A day after the CBI told a court that Mumbai college student Ishrat Jahan and three other persons had been murdered by Gujarat Police and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in a staged gunfight, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the guilty should be punished.
“Facts are facts. Guilty should be punished,” he commented on the CBI's submission to the court. Shinde's statement is significant as he has been maintaining there was not enough evidence against IB special director Rajendra Kumar and three others in the alleged fake encounter case.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had reacted sharply to the CBI indictment on Wednesday, as it believes the debate will shift from Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s governance abilities to the targeting of minorities.
On Thursday, the Congress stepped up the attack on the BJP and Modi. Union law minister Kapil Sibal said the BJP should be asked how its government in Gujarat was misusing the state police by taking “innocent lives”.
“He (Rajnath Singh) should be asking his own people and Modi how this happened in Gujarat. They should be worried about lawlessness in Gujarat and how the state officials were complicit in actually taking innocent lives through fake encounters,” he said.
His party colleague, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, accused the BJP of maintaining double standards on the CBI.
“When the CBI acts against a Congress leader, the BJP is happy. But when the agency acts in the Ishrat Jahan case, it starts talking of independent inquiries and politicisation of the CBI,” he said in Jabalpur.
Seeking to put the BJP in a spot over the killing of Ishrat Jahan, whose family has roots in Bihar, the JD(U) asked its former ally to clarify whether it considered the encounter killings an attack on the state's pride.
“The Bihar unit of BJP should clarify whether killing of the daughter of Bihar Ishrat Jahan is an attack on state's pride or not. If yes, then does BJP demand that those behind the conspiracy be exposed?” JD(U) spokesman Neeraj Kumar said in Patna.
On their part, the Left parties maintained that CBI appeared to be having some credible information in the Ishrat Jahan case and called for a probe into the killings.
“The CBI remains the premier investigative agency in the country despite the fact that it was misused at times. BJP leaders cannot sound like angels here. What happened in Gujarat is part of history and all fake encounters must be pursued and the guilty brought to justice,” CPI leader D Raja told HT.