Former Gujarat Intelligence Bureau chief Rajinder Kumar has been charged with murder and three serving officers have been accused of conspiracy in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. Ishrat, a 19-year-old college student, was killed by policemen in an alleged fake encounter 10 years ago.
In its supplementary chargesheet filed, the Central Bureau of Investigation has also accused Rajinder Kumar and the three serving IB officers – P Mittal, MK Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede – of conspiracy and illegal confinement.
Mr. Kumar has been charged under the Arms Act too; the CBI has alleged that he provided the weapons used by the Gujarat cops to kill Ishrat and three others and an AK-56 that, the agency alleges, was planted at the scene of the shooting to portray the victims as terrorists.
But nowhere does the 200-odd page charge-sheet mention a motive for the alleged involvement of these officers, a fact that is expected to exacerbate friction between the IB and the CBI. The Intelligence Bureau has said that though its officers had alerted the Gujarat police to the possibility that Ishrat and the others could be affiliated to terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, its officers did not authorize or participate in the killing.
The IB had vehemently objected to Mr. Kumar’s interrogation by the CBI in the case last year, arguing that it would affect the morale down the ranks of the IB and also that it would set a dangerous precedent because its members often work undercover and have sources that would dry up if its officers were entangled in police cases. The home ministry had backed the IB.
Ishrat Jahan was killed along with three men on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on 15 June, 2004, by Gujarat crime branch officers who claimed they had been told by the IB that the four were terrorists who planned to assassinate Narendra Modi, the state’s chief minister who is now running for Prime Minister.
In its first charge-sheet in July last year, the CBI accused seven senior policemen of murdering Ishrat and the others “in cold blood”. Amid the tension with the IB, it did not name Mr. Kumar, who was then serving. He retired about a month later.
Today’s chargesheet does not mention former Gujarat Home Minister and Narendra Modi aide Amit Shah, who the CBI had interrogated.