[Exposé] Ishrat Jahan Encounter: CBI Probe Nails IB Officer’s Role


Shocking testimonies and a sting implicate IB Special Director Rajendra Kumar and Modi’s top guns. Rana Ayyub scoops the file

Rana Ayyub

2013-06-29 , Issue 26 Volume 10

In cold blood In 2011, the SIT told the court that Ishrat was killed in a fake encounter

In cold blood In 2011, the SIT told the court
that Ishrat was killed in a 
 Photo: Trupti Patel

The is set to drop a bombshell in a case of extrajudicial killing of four alleged terrorists by the Gujarat Police nine years ago. TEHELKA has learnt that the CBI will testify before a trial judge in Ahmedabad that one of the accused officers has, in a sworn testimony, identified , now a Special Director with the Intelligence Bureau (IB), as a mastermind of the encounter killing of a woman and three men, all Muslims, on 15 June 2004. The agency, on the directions of the Gujarat High Court, is expected to file its chargesheet before the trial court on 4 July.

Explosively, a testimony by another officer claims that Kumar met the 19-year-old woman, , while she was in illegal police custody before being killed. Another testimony by a cop claims that an AK-47 assault rifle, which the police said belonged to those killed, had actually been sourced from the Gujarat unit of the IB, to which Kumar belonged then, and planted on the four dead bodies.

The allegations, if found true, would not only fix Kumar’s lead role in the murder of the four people. It would also unequivocally demolish the state government’s long-held claim that the four were terrorists on their way to assassinate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and were killed by the police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in a predawn exchange of gunfire. The testimonies are especially stunning as this is the first occasion in India’s history that the IB, an opaque Central agency that functions virtually with no public oversight, has been dragged into the middle of a sordid crime.

Rana

It is the CBI’s case that Kumar knowingly provided false intelligence to the state police, claiming Jahan and the three men with her were terrorists. On 18 June, the CBI questioned Kumar at length in Gandhinagar, the state capital. An intra- agency war has broken out with IB Director Asif IBrahim accusing the CBI of targeting Kumar. But the evidentiary material with the CBI could make it difficult for the IB to continue backing Kumar.

Shockingly, one of the testimonies with the CBI also implicates Amit Shah — a Modi confidant who was Gujarat’s junior home minister at that time — as the one who ordered the cold-blooded killings. The CBI’s upcoming submission in the court on 4 July is bound to kick up a massive political storm as Modi has been tasked to lead his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in next year’s General Election, making him a contender for the job of the prime minister. Shah has been put in charge of the party in Uttar Pradesh, India’s politically most influential state that the BJP must win to rule New Delhi.

TEHELKA has exclusive information that the CBI  also possesses a secret audio recording made by a key accused, , who was one of the police officers who shot the four that fateful night. That recording of November 2011 is a conversation among Gujarat’s then junior home minister, Praful Patel, who had succeeded Shah in the job a year earlier; Additional Principal Secretary Girish Chandra Murmu, an IAS  officer who has served in Modi’s office since 2008 and considered to be one of his closest advisers; the state government’s most senior law officer, Advocate General Kamal Trivedi; his deputy, Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta; an unnamed lawyer; and Singhal. (Patel, not to be confused with a namesake who is a Union minister, lost in the Assembly elections in December and did not find a place in Modi’s new cabinet.)

In the conversation the participants allegedly discuss ways to cover-up the crime by sabotaging a probe by a Special Investigative Team (SIT) of police officers appointed by the Gujarat High Court in 2009. The conversation shows the participants aimed to prevent the SIT from fingering the officers for the shootout. On 21 November 2011, the morning after the conversation, the SIT told the high court that there had been no shootout and Jahan and her companions had been killed in cold blood. The CBI will submit the audio recording, which has already been sent for a forensic examination, to the judge on 4 July.

According to a CBI officer who spoke to TEHELKA, Singhal has admitted he recorded the conversation as he feared he might be arrested and wanted to save the proof of the wider conspiracy. Indeed, Singhal is emerging as a crucial talking head in the case — as the one who has identified both Kumar and Shah as the masterminds. TEHELKA is aware of the identity of the other police officers who have given sworn testimonies to the CBI implicating IB officer Kumar and the others. However, we are withholding the names in order to protect their identities before 4 July, when the CBI would submit their signed testimonies to the court.

Additionally, a curious occurrence has come to light. Two days before the encounter, someone made two separate phone calls from a public telephone booth an hour apart from each other. One of them was made to the Ahmedabad office of the IB’s state wing. And the other was made to the mobile phone of Javed Gulam Shaikh (formerly a Hindu named Pranesh Pillai), who is the central figure among the four alleged terrorists and who was bringing them to Gujarat in his car. Who was making those phone calls and who did the caller speak with at the IB office? What did he speak of with Shaikh? The answers to these questions would further implicate Kumar, according to the CBI officer.

An Indian Police Services (IPS) officer since 1979, Kumar has been tying himself in knots since the CBI zeroed in on him. He reportedly told the CBI this week that he could not remember details of the events leading up to the shootout. In any case, he told the CBI, he merely provided the intelligence input and did not ask the police to kill Jahan, Shaikh and the two others. But CBI officers have sourced videos that news channels shot at the scene of the encounter where Kumar is prominent among the swarming police officers. CBI officials say Kumar, an intelligence officer, had no business being there.

In fact, two other testimonies the CBI has recorded afresh, directly implicate Kumar in another case: the extrajudicial killing of a Muslim youth, Sadiq Jamal, in January 2003. An officer with the Manipur- Tripura cadre stationed by the IB in Gujarat as joint director during 2000-05, Kumar had provided an intelligence input that said Pakistani terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) had tasked the 23-year-old Jamal to assassinate Modi. (A year later, Kumar forwarded an identical input that LeT had despatched Jahan, Shaikh and the two other men, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, both allegedly Pakistanis.)

The CBI is probing Jamal’s killing, too. Police had arrested him in 2002 for gambling and presented him before a judge in Bhavnagar, 175 km south of Ahmedabad, 10 days before Kumar sent out the intelligence input about Jamal being a terrorist on the prowl. He followed it up with a second missive to the state’s then Director General of Police K Chakravarty, giving out the various locations in Bhavnagar where Jamal could be found.

Subterfuge GL Singhal’s (circled) tape of the cover-up talk implicates many others in the case

Subterfuge GL Singhal’s (circled) tape of the cover-up talk implicates many others in the case
Photo: Mayur Bhatt

One of the new testimonies with the CBI is by an intelligence officer named Ambady Gopinathan who was serving with the IB’s state wing in Maharashtra when the intelligence input about Jamal cropped up first in October 2002. He says a colleague of his in Mumbai submitted a “source report” that Jamal, “a dreaded terrorist had arrived from Dubai to kill certain right wing leaders”. It further said Jamal was in Ahmedabad and was “busy surveying the targets for his nefarious designs”. Gopinathan, who subsequently retired as assistant director with the IB’s Maharashtra unit, forwarded the report to two other state IB officers who in turn forwarded it to the IB in New Delhi.

Gopinathan’s testimony blows to smithereens the story that Jamal was a terrorist who the Ahmedabad crime branch killed in an encounter. He says that on 19 December 2002 Jamal was arrested from a hotel in Andheri East, a Mumbai suburb. “For about a week different SIB (State Intelligence Bureau) officers used to… interrogate Sadiq,” Gopinathan says. “We came to the conclusion that there was no substance to the input that Sadiq had any intention to cause harm to any VVIPs. The interrogation report containing the details and conclusion was sent to the central intelligence unit of the IB.” On 3 January 2003, Jamal’s custody was handed over to the crime branch in Gujarat. Ten days later, “I came to know from the media that Sadiq was killed in a police encounter”.

Surprisingly, even after being given a report of Sadiq’s innocence, Kumar claimed he was an absconder, in a third input generated soon after.

A CBI source told TEHELKA that two intelligence officers from Mumbai are also on its radar. One of them, Gururaj Savadatti, is a “suspect” as he was the one who had submitted the original “source report” about Jamal being a terrorist. The other officer is Sudhir Kumar, who was then IB central director, western zone, and who Gopinathan had sent the source report. The CBI believes the two Kumars, Rajendra and Sudhir, conspired to label Jamal a terrorist, which led to his encounter killing in Gujarat.

The other fresh testimony with the CBI is by a senior IPS officer in Gujarat, Anupam Singh Gehlot, a deputy inspector general in charge of coastal intelligence posted at the state police headquarters in Gandhinagar. Gehlot had been a deputy superintendent of police during 2002-04 at Bhavnagar. Jamal was a resident of Bhavnagar and the intelligence about him was sent to the city police for verification. Gehlot has now told the CBI that J Mahapatra, an IPS officer who was then director general of police in charge of statewide police intelligence, telephoned him and told him to expect a call from Rajendra Kumar. When Kumar called, he sent Gehlot on a wild goose chase by telling him to go look for a man named Ayyub Islam in the city.

“Later I got another phone call(s) from Rajendra Kumar and Mahapatra giving me name of a person called Sadiq Jamal who lived in Bhavnagar, a trained LeT militant (who) was out to kill BJP leader Narendra Modi,” Gehlot says. “I could make out that Kumar was keen on detailing Sadiq Jamal irrespective whereas Mr Mahapatra was keen on me verifying facts.” On 30 November 2002, Gehlot’s men went to Jamal’s house and found only his mother. The local police station told them they had booked Jamal for gambling. “We found no evidence against him and this was reported to the central intelligence unit. It was election time and I was busy with election supervision. On 15 January 2003 I received a phone call from the Ahmedabad crime branch asking me to inform the family of his (Jamal’s) death and to collect the dead body.”

The CBI says Mahapatra has been questioned and he is cooperating. Expect fireworks on 4 July.

rana@tehelka.com

(Published in Tehelka Magazine, Volume 10 Issue 26, Dated 29 June 2013)

 

Narendra Modi- Can’t get away with murder #ishratjahan


June 18, 2013

Manoj Joshi, The Hindu

MISSING LINKS:Officers of forensic and intelligence agencies reconstructing the Ishrat Jahan encounter case on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. —PHOTO: PTI

MISSING LINKS:Officers of forensic and intelligence agencies reconstructing the Ishrat Jahan encounter case on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. —PHOTO: PTI

The Ishrat Jahan encounter case is like the proverbial can of worms whose contents have already spilled out. Not only has it shone the spotlight on the ruthless and, possibly, illegal manner in which the police and intelligence agencies fight terrorism, it has also exposed the Narendra Modi government’s poor record of managing the Gujarat police. And now, it has created schisms within the State police force, and between the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

At the outset, some plain facts: first, fake “encounter killings” — the term used for extrajudicial execution of criminals and alleged terrorists by the police — are not unique to Gujarat. Hundreds of them take place across the country and the policemen involved are often feted as “encounter specialists” whereas, in fact, what they specialise in is the cold-blooded and completely illegal executions of unarmed persons.

Second, there is no exemption for anyone in India’s security set-up to carry out extra-judicial executions. In other words, there is no Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) which indemnifies the State police, politicians or Central intelligence officials from killing alleged terrorists without judicial due process.

To harm Modi

Writing on his website earlier this month, the BJP leader, Arun Jaitley, reiterated the Gujarat police account that the Ishrat group was out to assassinate Mr. Modi and, based on information provided by the IB, it was intercepted and its four members killed in the encounter; after backing the State police version, the Union government changed tack and was now trying to use the case to attack the BJP.

A few “disgruntled police officials” formed the core of the CBI’s case and an effort was being made to target BJP ministers like Amit Shah and Gulab Chand Kataria of Rajasthan with the eventual aim of hitting at Mr. Modi. Now, the Union government had taken it a step further by undermining the IB in its pernicious campaign to harm Mr. Modi and the BJP.

Mr. Jaitley, also the former Union Law Minister during National Democratic Alliance rule, has not said much about the other extra-judicial killings in Gujarat. A Supreme Court mandated Special Task Force headed by a retired Justice H.S. Bedi is investigating 16 encounters that took place between 2003-2006 in Gujarat. In most of the encounters, those killed were alleged to be targeting Mr. Modi and other top BJP ministers in the State. This was the accusation against Sameer Khan Pathan, Sadiq Jamal, Mahendra Jadav, Ganesh Khunte, Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Tulsi Prajapati, Ishrat Jahan, Javed Sheikh (aka Pranesh Pillai), Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana. It is another story that most were petty criminals and there is no real evidence that they were out to kill Mr. Modi.

As for Ishrat and her companions, there is considerable mystery about their antecedents and how they came together. As Mr. Jaitley points out, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) journal, Ghazwa Times , acknowledged her as a cadre, and later withdrew its claim. News leaks claim that the LeT operative, David Coleman Headley (Daood Gilani), had told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that Ishrat had been recruited by the LeT and that this fact had been communicated to the Indian intelligence, or the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). But there is no reference to Ishrat in the NIA’s report of Headley which was made available to the media and which did have some references to other LeT plots that Headley was aware of. There is something to the issue though since G.K. Pillai, the Union Home Secretary in 2009, acknowledged an affidavit of his ministry to the Gujarat High Court that said there was intelligence information that Ishrat and her companions were terror suspects. More recently, in 2011, Mr. Pillai had reiterated that he stood by the IB tip that linked Ishrat Jahan to an LeT module.

But whether or not Ishrat and her group were terrorists is not the issue. What the Gujarat police officials are being charged with is extra-judicial killing. There are no exemptions in the law for carrying out fake encounters even if the targets are terrorists. The IB is not exempt from the operation of the law of the land either. Mr. Jaitley, of all people, should know that only the judiciary has the right to order an execution, and, after due process.

The ugly truth is that the Gujarat government cynically used the instrument of extra-judicial executions to burnish their own anti-Muslim credentials. In the process, their police officials and, possibly, their ministers, have broken the law. The behaviour of Gujarat police officers such as D.G. Vanzara among others was perhaps most brazen because of the protection they felt that they had from the then Home minister Amit Shah, and, possibly, Mr. Modi. Murder is a very grave charge, and it is far more serious when those accused of it are officials or ministers of the government sworn to uphold the law of the land. Whether or not the police officials who have given the CBI evidence of the wrongdoings of the Gujarat police officers are disgruntled doesn’t really matter. What matters is the truth, and the legal consequences thereafter.

Then there is the issue of the IB. Whether or not Rajendra Kumar, the IB Joint Director in Gujarat, crossed a legal threshold can only be determined through further investigation, and may eventually have to be dealt with by the courts. But there has been something deeply disturbing about the manner in which India’s internal intelligence agency has worked on some terrorism cases in the past. There are several incidents — the Ansal Plaza “encounter” of 2002, or the 2006 attack on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters, to name just two — which appear to have been staged for domestic political effect, rather than any other purpose. Incidentally, one of the incidents was during the rule of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the other, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Independent body

There are no independent means of verifying whether the IB stays within the red lines of the law when it gathers intelligence information or processes and forwards it to State police forces because there is no oversight mechanism to ensure that. Alone among the democracies, India keeps its intelligence agencies away from parliamentary oversight and, indeed, there is little or no internal oversight either. Likewise, short of recourse to the courts, there are no means available to the citizen to take up the issue of police excesses. The result is the persistence of a culture of impunity among the police and intelligence authorities.

Hopefully, on the issue of the Gujarat extra-judicial killings, the courts will weigh the evidence that the SIT and CBI have gathered. Those accused will have the opportunity to respond, and the courts will weigh the evidence and pronounce their verdict. But given the gravity of the charges, there must be some greater takeaway for our security set-up. First, there is the need for a mechanism to ensure that charges of police excesses are quickly investigated and dealt with. Second, terrorism or no terrorism, the intelligence agencies of the country need to function within the law, and this is not something that can be done on the basis of self-certification, but a fact established through an independent, internal inspectorate, as well as a larger parliamentary oversight system.

(Manoj Joshi is Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research Foundation and a member of the National Security Task Force 2011-2012, whose recommendations are before the Cabinet Committee on Security.)

The new twists in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case highlight the need for parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies

 

#India – ‘Who Killed my daughter Ishrat Jehan ? #Vaw


Statement by Shamima Kauser mother of deceased Ishrat

June 18, 2013

Image

18th June, 2013

My daughter Ishrat Jehan was abducted, illegally confined and killed in cold blood by officers and men of the Gujarat police, in June 2004. She was killed as part of a larger conspiracy which had a political agenda. Ishrat’s murder was projected as an ‘encounter’ and justified by branding her a terrorist who had come with 3 other men to attack the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. This was not the first fake encounter in Gujarat, other Muslims too had been executed in similar staged encounters, committed in the name of protecting the Chief Minster of Gujarat. Some of these other fake encounters, which are nothing but pre meditated extra judicial killings, are already under investigation and prosecution.

My young college going daughter, Ishrat, was studying and working to earn and support her brothers and sisters, after the death of her father. Since the day of her murder, I have been stating hat my daughter was innocent and had no links whatsoever with any terrorist or criminal activity. The same was categorically asserted by me in the Writ Petition field by me in August 2004, before the Gujarat High Court, seeking a CBI enquiry to establish the innocence of my daughter and justice through punishment of her killers.

For 9 long years the Gujarat state, has abused its power, to obstruct, delay and derail the investigation, so that the hands and masterminds behind this heinous crime are shielded from legal accountability. The State of Gujarat and its senior IPS officers have filed frivolous and vexatious petitions in the Supreme Court, coerced witnesses, and deployed many other unlawful tactics. My lawyers have resolutely met each challenge and worked to uncover the truth.

The report of the judicial enquiry by the Magistrate Shri S.P. Tamang, in September 2009, concluded that my daughter was innocent and had been murdered by Gujarat police officers and men. The SIT appointed by the Gujarat High Court, under the Chairmanship of Shri R.R. Verma, too concluded in 2011, that the encounter was fake and not genuine and that Ishrat Jehan had been killed in prior custody. Under directions of the Gujarat High Court the investigation was transferred to the CBI and a FIR for murder and other grave crimes lodged in 2011.

The CBI is investigating the murder of my daughter and 3 others. This investigation is being monitored by the Gujarat High Court and a status report of the investigation is regularly filed before the High Court. I have always placed my faith in the Court and pray that the Hon’ble High Court will ensure that my struggle for justice is not in vain. The CBI investigation has already led to the arrest of many senior Gujarat police officers and men. The CBI investigation has revealed that complicit in the staged fake encounter of Ishrat and 3 others in 2004, were not only police officers of Gujarat, but others as well.

The evidence collected by the CBI, as expressed to the High Court on the last date of hearing i.e. 14th June 2013, points to a larger conspiracy. The conspiracy appears to include Mr. Rajendra Kumar a senior officer of the Intelligence Bureau. The CBI counsel stated before the High Court on 14thJune, 2013, that their investigation shows that IB Officer Mr. Rajendra Kumar not only knew about the illegal detention of my daughter Ishrat but was directing the operations.  I am astonished and distressed to hear that attempts are being made to protect Mr. Rajendra Kumar from arrest and custodial interrogation by the CBI.

I am also surprised that the media is projecting the CBI investigation as an attack on the institution of IB. To my mind, what is worrying, if not dangerous, for the security of India, is if high ranking officers in institutions such as the IB, abuse their position and fabricate information, to advance a communal and politically motivated agenda. It is in the interest of the country if such people are weeded out of the IB and the security of all the people of India protected.

Clearly, the investigation of the CBI is moving in the right direction and to thwart it a very crude and motivated move was orchestrated, by planting some audio-tapes with a private media channel viz. Headlines Today. There is not a whisper of allegation against my daughter Ishrat Jehan in these socalled IB audio recordings. Significantly the timing of the broadcast of these tapes, on 13th June 2013, by a compliant private TV channel, the night before the hearing by the High Court, not only makes them highly suspect, but in fact betrays that they are desperate to shield the guilty. I would like to state here that my lawyers will be sending a legal notice and will initiate appropriate legal action against Headlines Today TV channel for the false, scandalous and defamatory statements made against my deceased daughter Ishrat Jehan.

When the next day the Additional Advocate General of Gujarat, brandished these planted and concocted CDs before the High Court, on 14th June, 2013 and made specious arguments for them to be taken on record, the nefarious design and purpose was clear to all. The Gujarat High Court not only rejected this fallacious plea of the State of Gujarat, but also sternly reminded it of its constitutional duty to protect its citizens and admonished it for continually obstructing the investigation into the staged encounter.

I strongly reject and denounce each and every allegation and statement that refers to my deceased daughter Ishrat Jehan as being a terrorist or having any links with any terrorist activity or group. In the past too attempts have been made to taint the name of deceased Ishrat by planting false, concocted and baseless news reports. What is significant is that the judicial enquiry and impartial and professional investigation have always upheld the innocence of Ishrat.

The State of Gujarat has on each hearing before the High Court argued strenuously to disrupt and disturb the CBI team that is investigating the killing of Ishrat and others. As I observe the progress of this investigation, I ask the following questions. Why is the State of Gujarat so keen, almost desperate to remove Mr. Satish Verma, IPS, from this investigation? What does the State of Gujarat fear this diligent and honest investigation will reveal? Who are the persons the State of Gujarat is trying to protect?

I have a right to know the complete truth – who killed my daughter Ishrat Jehan, who masterminded her murder, who stood to gain from the cold blooded killing of a young Muslim girl. I have a right to complete justice, and for that it is necessary that the entire conspiracy is unearthed and all those responsible for eliminating my innocent daughter are indicted, charged prosecuted and punished.

Ishrat Jahan case: HC raps CBI, tells it to focus on encounter angle


The court also came down heavily on the state government for trying to put the CD on record (of alleged conservations between those killed in the encounter and their Pakistani handlers) and told them to submit the evidence before CBI

Ahmedabad, Jun 14 (PTI):  High Court today rapped the  for delay in filing its charge sheet in the alleged fake encounter case, asking it to ascertain the genuineness of the encounter instead of focusing on  inputs and trying to figure out whether those killed were terrorists or not.

“Prime facie, we find that instead of investigating the genuineness of the encounter, the CBI has focused more on the genuineness of the inputs provided by the IB,” a division bench of Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari observed.

“It seems that in past one month you were more interested in figuring out whether the killed persons were terrorists or not but the court is not concerned whether they were terrorists or normal human beings. In any case they should not have been liquidated,” the court observed.

“You have been assigned responsibility to ascertain whether they were killed in a genuine encounter or a fake one and whether they were in prior custody of Gujarat police or not,” the court said.

Court asked CBI to explain why it failed to file the charge sheet within 90 days of the arrest of accused, to which CBI responded that it is very large case of conspiracy and investigation has led us from one point to another which has caused the delay.

The delay in filing the charge sheet has resulted in five accused police officers including IPS G L Singhal securing bail.

The CBI told the court that it will file the charge sheet in the case by first week of July.

But that could not satisfy the court which said that they have doubts that the probe agency would file the charge sheet even by second week of July.

The CBI, on the instruction of the High Court, had taken over the probe of the alleged fake encounter in which 19-year-old Ishrat, Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed on the outskirts of the city on June 15, 2004 allegedly by a Crime Branch team led by DIG D G Vanzara.

The court also came down heavily on the state government for trying to put the CD on record (of alleged conservations between those killed in the encounter and their Pakistani handlers) and told them to submit the evidence before CBI.

On behalf of Gujarat Government, Additional Advocate (AAG) General Tushar Mehta, while requesting the court to take the CD on record, claimed that it was a ‘clinching’ evidence showing the persons who were killed were terrorists and that the encounter was genuine.

“This CD, duly endorsed by the highest officer of IB, contains clinching evidence which shows that those who were killed were terrorists and they were killed in genuine encounter,” Mehta claimed.

However, the bench flatly refused to take the request from the state government and observed that, “this is not the right stage and right court to produce any kind of evidence in this case. If you consider it as important piece of evidence submit it to CBI or you can later produce it before the trial court. We are not entertaining it.”

Meanwhile, taking note of some media reports that CBI director has decided to discontinue the services of Gujarat IPS officer Satish Verma who is assisting it in the case investigation on court orders, the bench asked CBI to clarify whether they need further services of Verma or not.

On this, CBI lawyer Ejaz Khan made it clear that agency needs the services of Verma till the investigation concludes.

After getting instructions from CBI he re-submitted that, “at least till the filing of charge sheet we will need his full time services and then his services may be availed whenever its needed.”

This was supported by counsels representing Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kausar and Javed’s father Gopinath Pillai.

They urged the court to continue Verma’s services on the grounds that investigation was at a crucial stage and Verma should be permitted to perform the responsibility he has been assigned to.

Next hearing of the case is scheduled on June 18.

During past one month, CBI arrested suspended IPS officer D G Vanzara, (prime accused in Sohrabuddin fake encounter case) who is now lodged in Sabarmati jail under judicial custody, following his five days custodial interrogation by the central agency.

CBI had also summoned and grilled Special Director of Intelligence Bureau Rajendra Kumar in the Ishrat case with regard to the inputs generated about four ‘terrorists’ entering Gujarat to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Since the last hearing in High Court, five Gujarat policemen, accused in this case, were granted bail as the central agency failed to file its charge sheet against them within 90 days of their arrest.

Suspended IPS officer G L Singhal, Tarun Barot, J G Parmar, Bharat Patel and Anaju Chaudhary got the benefit of bail because of delay on the part of CBI in filing the charge sheet in the case.

Apart from grilling Rajendra Kumar, the agency had also summoned and examined former DGP of the state K R Kaushik, who was Police Commissioner of the city when the 2004 encounter took place.

As per the FIR registered by Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) in 2004, on receiving intelligence inputs from Kaushik, which were passed on to then Joint Commissioner of Police (DCB), Ahmedabad P P Pandey, they had cordoned off the city and upon arrival of the four, had intercepted them at the outskirts of the city where the encounter took place.

CBI had also examined Special Public Prosecutor at City civil and sessions court Sudhir Brahmabhatt, who was then a public prosecutor.

 

Ishrat Encounter case: CBI court orders arrest warrant against Gujarat top cop


Business Standard
Ahmedabad May 2, 2013 Last Updated at 20:14 IST

Special CBI Judge asked for the issuance of an arrest warrant for Pande, who has gone underground and is allegedly being protected by the state government

A special CBI court in Ahmedabad on Thursday ordered that an arrest warrant be issued against Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) P P Pande, who according to the central agency was involved in 2004 alleged fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan and three others.

Special CBI Judge Gita Gopi agreeing with the demand of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), directed the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate to issue an arrest warrant for Pande, who as per the central agency had gone underground and was being protected by the state government.

Last week CBI DySP and investigating officer of the encounter case G Kalaimani had filed a revision application challenging the order, dated April 25, of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) of the CBI court which had rejected CBI’s demand for the issuance of arrest warrant for Additional DGP (Crime) Pande.

CBI, in its revision application had sought issuance of arrest warrant for Pande under section 73 of the CrPC (criminal Procedure Code), and claimed that the senior IPS officer was evading CBI and it has become necessary for the agency to seek court’s help.

Counsel for the CBI had told the court during arguments on the application that they had issued two summons, on April 22 and 24 respectively to Pande, but he had not responded to it.

When CBI went to his residence at Ahmedabad, his son refused to give information about Pande’s whereabouts and his official mobile phone was also not reachable, he had added.

CBI wants to interrogate Pande in connection with the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, but was not able to do so because the officer was not traceable. Therefore, it had approached the court seeking issuance of arrest warrant for Pande.

Pande, a 1980 batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre, was Joint Police Commissioner of Ahmedabad crime branch, when on June 15, 2004, Ishrat Jahan along with Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in a police encounter on the outskirts of the city. After the encounter the crime branch officials had claimed that the four were terrorists and had come to Gujarat with a plan to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

In December 2011 the Gujarat High Court handed over the investigation in the encounter to CBI after a special investigation team appointed by it concluded that the killing of Ishrat and three others was stage managed by Gujarat police. As many as five cops have been arrested so far in the case by the CBI.

 

Gujarat- Voice of Victims #Narendramodi


Frontline- May17,2013

GUJARAT CHIEF MINISTER NARENDRA MODI’S SPIN doctors have been portraying him as the new messiah of the country. In their enthusiasm to project him as the next Prime Minister, they even claim that he has appeased the minorities (read Muslims), and that they have apparently begun to accept him as a leader worth reckoning.

But the ground reality is something else. “If he becomes the Prime Minister, he will turn the country into another Gujarat. He is the country’s biggest enemy. He does not believe in democracy, peace, communal harmony or anything that India stands for. He has brought so much suspicion and distrust in Gujarat that he will ruin the country,” says Yusuf Pathan, a survivor of the 2002 communal riots in Mehsana district. “Modi is no messiah. Whatever development is seen in Gujarat has come from the Central government. He is fooling everyone by making them believe it is he who is taking Gujarat forward.”

The majority of Muslims across Gujarat will concur with Pathan’s views. Frontlinetravelled to several parts of the State to understand the condition of the minority communities, particularly Muslims, who are perhaps the most persecuted community in Gujarat, and check the veracity of the development claims.

Whether it is access to housing, employment and education or the exercise of fundamental rights, Muslims, who constitute about 9 per cent of the population, are marginalised or treated as second-class citizens. The injustices done to them are so blatant that it is hard to believe that Modi has any desire to appease these sections.

There are plenty of indicators to prove that Gujarat under Modi has no place for minorities. Several recent reports and analyses show that the Muslims of Gujarat are among the poorest and most discriminated against community in the country. Additionally, the employment of tactics such as amending laws to suppress the community establishes Modi’s agenda.

 

 

The Chief Minister sought to curb the freedom of choice of religion by passing the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Law, 2003. This law stipulates that anyone wanting to convert to another religion must take the state’s permission. In 2009, he introduced an amendment to the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provisions for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991, purportedly to check illegal transfer of property in the communally sensitive areas of Ahmedabad and Vadodara.

The law essentially requires people from one religion to take permission from the state to sell their property if the buyer is from another religion. Modi has ensured that Muslims and other minorities do not benefit from the various Central government schemes. He sought to prevent the implementation of the Centre’s pre-matriculation scholarship scheme for students from minority communities. The scholarships were not disbursed in Gujarat because Modi felt it would be discriminatory against other religions. Gujarat has been allotted 55,000 scholarships of which 53,000 are for deserving Muslim students. On February 15, the Gujarat High Court, hearing a bunch of public interest petitions, ruled in favour of the scheme.

The danger of having Modi at the helm is that he will divide and rule, because that is the only language he knows, people belonging to the minority community say.

Pathan lost 11 of his family members in the post-Godhra riots at Dipda Darwaza in Mehsana district. This was one of the nine cases into which a further probe was conducted by the Special Investigation Team (SIT). In July 2012, a special court convicted 21 people for rioting and attempt to murder in the Dipda Darwaza case. Pathan earns a living by running a paan shop in Visnagar in Mehsana district. Several riot-affected families have been provided some manner of housing by the relief committees. But, relief and employment and education opportunities are still not available for the victims.

“Though they have been given houses, there are no amenities. There are open sewers and water stagnates in them. One tap has been provided for running water, but it is defunct,” Pathan says. The majority of Muslims in this area are poor. They work as farmhands or as manual labourers at construction sites. Some of them take up odd jobs in small industrial units.

“Whoever wants Modi to become the Prime Minister wants the country to be ruined,” says Abid Khan, who works in a timber yard and also drives an autorickshaw. “Modi does not listen to the poor. He only listens to the rich Muslims who only have their business interests in mind.”

“What has Modi done in the name of development? The human development index of Gujarat is declining,” says Iqbal Sheikh, who is also a complainant in the Dipda Darwaza case.

 

 

An hour’s drive from Visagar is Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha district where families of victims in the Sardarpura massacre have been provided protected housing. This small colony, tucked away from the main highway, has 22 families. Here again there is no sanitation or regular electricity or water supply. About 10 people live in each 10×10 feet room. This small lane of houses borders the Dalit colony on the fringes of the village, and those familiar with the caste system will realise that this is nothing but social exclusion.

“You have visited us before. Nothing has changed since then,” says Basheera Bibi, who lost her husband in the riots. “There is still no public health clinic in the vicinity. The only school, which has up to class VIII, is located far away. We work in the fields. But this year, the agriculture season has been very bad.”

Abdul Khan, a 40-year-old labourer from Himmatnagar, says, since the area is affected by drought there is no work throughout the year. Our rozi roti [daily bread] depends on daily wage employment. For this we have to travel quite far. If I am lucky I earn Rs.50 a day.”

Discriminated by the state

A report by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), authored by Abusaleh Shariff in 2011, sums up the discrimination best. The report explores “the relative development of Gujarat, followed by the socio-religious differentials in the standard of living in the State”. Shariff, who has drawn data from the National Sample Survey Organisation, the Sachar Committee report and the Reserve Bank of India, provides some crucial and telling statistics that testify to the fact that Muslims in Gujarat are marginalised largely because of state policies.

Says the report: “Poverty amongst the urban Muslims is eight times (800 per cent) higher than high-caste Hindus, about 50 per cent more than the Hindu-Other Backward Classes and the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes [S.Cs/S.Ts]. Note that over 60 per cent of all Gujarati Muslims live in urban areas and they are the most deprived social group in Gujarat. On the other hand, rural poverty amongst the Muslims is two times (200 per cent) more than high-caste Hindus.”

He observes that educationally, Muslims are the most deprived community in Gujarat. A mere 26 per cent reach the level of matriculation, whereas the proportion for others, except the S.Cs/S.Ts, is 41 per cent. A large number of Muslim pupils drop out around class V. A disturbing trend was noticed in respect of higher education. Muslims who had the same level of education as other categories in the past are left behind compared with even S.Cs/S.Ts. A startling fact revealed by the study is that upper-caste Hindus have benefited the most from the public provisioning of higher education in recent years.

 

 

On the employment front, it found that a larger number of Muslims in Gujarat are self-employed or do petty trade. Self-employment and petty trade have shown only a marginal income growth in the past two decades in comparison with other sectors of the economy. In Gujarat, foreign direct investments and public investments are channelled into the organised sector where Muslims do not find employment.

Shariff says it must be noted that Muslims generally have better employment opportunities in State public sector enterprises across India, whereas in Gujarat they do not have access to organised and public sector employment.

“There exists deep-rooted poverty and income inequality in Gujarat. Putting the Muslim situation in this larger framework, the empirical evidence suggests that relative to other States and relative to other communities, Muslims in Gujarat are facing high levels of discrimination and deprivation,” he says.

Sophia Khan, a women’s rights activist in Ahmedabad, says, “All the challenges remain the same. Just because there is no visible violence on the streets does not mean that we are not targeted.” She says the issue is about internally displaced people. Severe polarisation has happened during Modi’s tenure and this will continue because he has ensured distrust between communities.

There are few options by way of leadership for Gujarat’s Muslims. Sophia Khan says it is unfortunate that the community cannot mobilise itself, find a voice and provide some able leaders. She says it is inaccurate to say that Muslims are voting the BJP. Where they are a minority, they have no option, mostly because there is no alternative. However, she says, Juhapura, which has three lakh Muslims, is a case in point. The area, which was a ghetto providing refuge to riot-affected people, has become a suburb of Ahmedabad and looks after the needs of the city’s Muslims, who, over a period of time, have literally been hounded out of “Hindu areas”.

She says the BJP fielded a retired Muslim Indian Police Service officer from Juhapura in the Assembly elections, but he lost. “This shows that we will not vote the BJP even if they put up a Muslim candidate. Modi will soon realise the country does not consist of only Gujarati middle class. He does not understand or follow the Constitution. How can he become the Prime Minister?”

In fact, in Modi’s Gujarat, even Christians, Dalits and S.Ts are not spared. For instance, Gujarat’s Christian population is 0.53 per cent. Even that is a threat to the Chief Minister.

The human rights activist Father Cedric Prakash told Frontline: “Christians in Gujarat [especially those who are from the tribal communities or belong to the backward classes] are subject to intimidation and harassment. Recently, the police visited one of our spiritual centres demanding to see the baptism register. This does not happen anywhere else in the country.”

On Easter Sunday, a huge right-wing Hindu rally demanding that Gujarat be declared a Hindu state by 2015 was held in Maninagar, Modi’s constituency, he said.

The plight of the minorities in the State never seems to improve.

 

 

 

Gujarat HC notices to Tata Motors, Essar, L&T, GIFT city over land allotment


English: Wordmark of Essar. Trademarked by Essar.

 

English: Wordmark of Tata Motors

English: Wordmark of Tata Motors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

S Reporter  |  Mumbai/ Ahmedabad  April 26, 2013 Last Updated at 20:30 IST

Alleges that the companies received favours from state govt; asks them to file replies on affidavit

 

Gujarat High Court on Friday issued notices to Tata Motors Ltd, Essar Steel Ltd, Larsen & Tubro (L&T) and Gujarat International Finance Tech (GIFT) City Company Limited while hearing separate public interest litigations (PILs) alleging that the companies received favours from state government.

A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala while issuing notices have asked them to file replies on affidavit and have scheduled further hearing in June after the court vacation.

The PIL against Tata Motor Ltd (TML) alleges state government had violated policy by giving tax and financial reliefs against the VAT payable by the company. It has further claimed that government had wrongly disbursed over Rs 300 crore loan at 0.1 per cent payable after 20 years of TML’s Nano car plant operations. It said that state government’s move “is a deliberate action against the interest of public at large which is also beyond the purview of state government and also dehors the law.”

PIL has demanded cancellation of the loan given by state government to TML. It has further alleged that the company was “misusing and abusing the condition of the tax relief granted” to get soft loans from the state government. “Total sales of the NANO car are shown to have been made to a wholly owned subsidiary company of TML in state of Gujarat and later on cars are indirectly sold all over the country and other states of India by that wholly owned subsidiary company,” the PIL said, adding that the company manipulated sales figures to get more loan from government.

Meanwhile other PILs against L&T, Essar Steel Ltd and Gift City have claimed that the land allotment to the entities was done without following proper procedures, resulting in private companies getting undue benefits from the state government.

They have further claimed that government land was allotted to the companies at throw away prices without competitive bidding process, causing a loss crores of rupees to the state exchequer. The PILs have cited the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India where these issues have been raised.

 

 

 

 

HC stays trial against Sanjiv Bhatt in custodial torture case


Ahmedabad. April  23, 2013

The Gujarat High Court today temporarily stayed the trial against suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in a 16-year-old case of custodial torture in Porbandar.

Justice S R Brahmabhatt ordered stay till further orders and fixed the hearing in the first week of May.

Bhatt, who was posted as SP in Porbandar in 1997, and constable Vajubhai Chau, are facing a trial for alleged custodial torture of a history-sheeter called Naran Sudha Jadav.

Jadav was arrested by Inspector M J Parmar while investigating a case of smuggling of weapons and RDX from Pakistan, and taken to Porbandar from Sabarmati Central jail in Ahmedabad in July 1997.

Jadav later filed a complaint before the judicial magistrate in Porbandar, accusing Bhatt and Chau of custodial torture.

Last year, Bhatt had filed an application before the magistrate, seeking case diaries of the investigation officer.

The magistrate, in September, rejected Bhatt’s application, against which he went to the high court.

Bhatt has been in news in the recent past for making allegations against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi regarding handling of the 2002 riots.

 

Gujarat HC pulls up state govt on swine flu: why not declare it an epidemic


Ahmedabad, Wed Mar 27 2013, ,IE

The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the state government over the prevalence of swine flu in the state and asked why it did not declare the disease “an epidemic”.The court also termed the state government’s report on steps being taken to handle the disease as “an eyewash”.After lashing out at the state government, the court directed the Commissioner of Health to file a detailed affidavit on a variety of issues related to the disease and medical emergency situation in the state by April 9, when further hearing is scheduled.

The court presided over by Justice Anant Dave had, in the last hearing, asked the state government to submit a detailed report related to the disease while acting on certain bail petitions by some undertrial prisoners who had sought bail to attend to their relatives suffering from diseases like swine flu, malaria and dengue.On Tuesday, the state government counsel presented the report before the court and apprised it about the instructions being given to the government hospitals and health centres.

The court, however, was unimpressed. “Instructions do not work. There are no qualified doctors in your CHCs (Community Health Centres). Even for X-ray, patients have to go outside,” the court said.The court said there were norms of cleanliness and hygiene in government hospitals but expressed doubts about how many hospitals were following the same.

Apprising the court about various provisions at government hospitals, the state government’s counsel said they were having rain-basera facilities in major centres for accommodation of relatives of the patients.To this, the court said, “Even for patients there are no beds in hospitals, what rain basera for their relatives? This is an eye-wash. They (relatives of the patients) are sleeping outside the Civil Hospital. And health and hygiene are worst in government hospitals.”

Referring to private hospitals, the court asked the state government if there was any specific requirement for opening multi-specialty and super-specialty hospitals or it was “part of industrial policy (of the state government)”.The court asked the state government counsel why it did not declare swine flu as an epidemic. When the government counsel said it would require a notification to be issues, the court wanted to know about the criteria set to declare a particular disease an epidemic.

On the role of private hospitals in medical emergency situation, the court asked the state government to provide details of provisions under which services of private hospitals could be summoned.It also sought details on what special treatment was being given to pregnant females as they faced increased threat from H1N1 infection.

The HC also referred to an earlier court order under which a committee of lawyers had visited the Civil Hospital after some junior doctors had died of dengue at the hostel and a public interest litigation was filed seeking cleanliness and hygienic conditions at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.Govt gives figures on swine flu

In its report submitted before the High Court, the state government has given figures of swine flu cases in Gujarat since 2009 while comparing the same with states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. According to these figures, in 2013, Gujarat has so far recorded 689 swine flu cases. The report also gives history of the H1N1 virus in detail. It also contains details of the awareness campaign the state government has launched and various steps taken by the Health Department to mitigate the situation. The report also records that additional ventilators are required to attend critically-ill patients having H1N1 infection.

 

Mod lies EXPOSED #fakencounter-Ishrat Jahan case: Gujarat HC satisfied with CBI probe #goodnews


PTI

Gujarat High Court on Friday expressed satisfaction about the progress made by CBI in the investigation of Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, and ordered it to submit the next progress report by May 9.

CBI, ordered by the HC to take over the probe in December 2011, on Thursday submitted a progress report in a sealed cover.

On Friday, the division bench of Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari said the pace and direction of the probe were satisfactory. “It looks like in past two months CBI has made a substantial progress,” the judges said.

At the last hearing in January, when CBI submitted its first report, the court wasn’t much happy and decided to monitor the probe.

Subsequently, CBI arrested four Gujarat police officers: IPS officer Girish Singhal, deputy superintendent of police Tarun Barot, inspector Bharat Patel and retired deputy superintendent of police J.G. Parmar.

Ishrat Jahan, who hailed from Mumbra near Mumbai, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Zeeshan Johar and Amjadali Rana were killed by the Gujarat police in an encounter on June 15, 2004 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

During the hearing, the state government’s lawyer raised the issue of sending back Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Satish Verma, who had been asked by the HC to join the CBI probe despite the state government’s objection.

Mr. Verma was a part of the Special Investigation Team constituted by the HC in this case; he was the first to say in his report that Ishrat and others were killed in a fake encounter.

“We need him urgently as he is one of the senior and experienced officer of the state police,” Government Pleader Prakash Jani said. Mr. Verma could be sent back to state service as CBI had now made a substantial progress in probe, he said.

“As per this court’s order dated January 11, 2013, Mr. Verma’s services for this case were allowed only for three months,” he said.

But the bench, while rejecting CBI’s request for continuing Mr. Verma’s deputation for four months, said he can continue to assist CBI till April-end, and by then CBI should get done whatever it wanted him to do for the probe.

“From May 1, 2013 Satish Verma should return to the state government,” the HC said, fixing the next hearing on May 10.

 

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