A top police official, who was also part of a court-appointed special investigation team to investigate the encounter death of a young woman in Gujarat in 2004, has revealed some startling facts about the case that has come under public scrutiny once again after Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist David Headley told a Mumbai court that she was indeed a terror operative.
The alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan has put the spotlight on former Home Minister P Chidamabram who has been accused by ex-Home Secretary G K Pillai of changing an affidavit which originally described Jahan and her slain aides as LeT operatives.
IPS officer and SIT member Satish Verma told the Indian Express that his investigation "found that Ishrat along with three others had been picked by IB (Intelligence Bureau) days before the encounter. In fact, there was no intelligence input with the IB that a woman would be accompanying the alleged terrorists. There was no input on Ishrat. These people were kept in illegal custody and then shot dead.”
One needs to show evidences proving that Ishrat's movements were like a terrorist's.There was no such fact presented in investigation-SVerma— ANI (@ANI_news) March 3, 2016
National security cannot become a defence for the pre-meditated murder of a 19-year-old girl and be branded it as collateral damage.
He also denied an allegation by RVS Mani, who had filed affidavits in the Gujarat High Court in the case on behalf of the Union Home Ministry, that he had tortured him by burning him with cigarette butts.
"National security cannot become a defence for the pre-meditated murder of a 19-year-old girl and be branded it as collateral damage," Verma told India Today TV.
Things in the first affidavit were written as if he(RVS) was the investigating officer-Former SIT Chief Satish Verma pic.twitter.com/ebnQTGnMKO— ANI (@ANI_news) March 3, 2016
"It is very unfortunate that national security was being used as a phrase to condone the extreme illegalities of the most serious crime in the book. It cannot happen. These raise concerns...," said Verma, who is now Chief Vigilance Officer at Shillong-based NEEPCO.
He also disputed the description of Jahan as an LeT terrorist and a suicide bomber saying she was away from her home and family for only about 10 days after she came into contact with a Pakistani terrorist Javed Sheikh.
"You would know how much time you take to train a LeT terrorist and a suicide bomber...This time (that she was away from home) was not enough," he said.
During CBI investigation, such a thing never takes place-Former SIT Chief Satish Verma on RVS Mani's 'cigarette butts' allegation— ANI (@ANI_news) March 3, 2016
Satish Verma kept on telling me that you say Rajendra Kumar brought the affidavit and you signed it, he kept harping on that-RVS Mani— ANI (@ANI_news) March 2, 2016
The 1986-batch Gujarat cadre IPS officer also contradicted Pillai's claim of knowing the exact details of the case saying he was "no intelligence officer." He said Mani's affidavit filings were "curious" as they did not look like the Home Ministry's version but that of the Gujarat police investigation.
"Mr Mani had no direct knowledge of the case...," he said adding that the allegations made by Mani against him were "old" and have been made by him earlier too.
Pillai claimed that as Home Minister during UPA government, Chidambaram had recalled the file a month after the original affidavit, which described Jahan and her slain aides as LeT operatives, was filed in Supreme Court. "Only after the affidavit was revised, as directed by the minister, did the file come to me," PTI quoted Pillai as saying.
You would know how much time you take to train a LeT terrorist and a suicide bomber...This time (that she was away from home) was not enough.
The then UPA government had submitted two affidavits - one that the four, who were killed in an alleged fake encounter, were terrorists and the second saying there was no conclusive evidence - within two months in 2009.
Chidambaram has said the second affidavit in the Jahan encounter case was "absolutely correct" and as minister then "I accept the responsibility". He also expressed disappointment over Pillai distancing himself from the affidavit issue despite being "equally responsible".
Ishrat, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an encounter with Gujarat Police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. The city crime branch had then said that those killed in the encounters were LeT terrorists and had landed in Gujarat to kill the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
(With inputs from PTI)