A special CBI court in Ahmedabad on Wednesday discharged three policemen accused in the extrajudicial killing of Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh and two others in June 2004.
The policemen include Inspector General of Police G L Singhal, retired police officer Tarun Barot, and Anaju Chaudhari.
With this order, all six accused policemen, who were arrested and chargesheeted by CBI, have been let off by the special CBI court without trial.
Earlier, the CBI had not appealed against the discharge of three other officers. This was cited as a ground for the discharge of the last three accused in the case.
Ex-Director General of Police PP Pandey was the first accused to be discharged from the trial. The proceedings against ex IPS officer D G Vanzara and ex Superintendent of Police N K Amin were dropped for want of sanction under section 197 of code of criminal procedure (CrPC).
Special CBI judge VR Raval also held that accused policemen were “discharging their duty and there was enough evidence suggesting that Ishrat Jahan and three others, killed in the encounter, were “terrorists”.
“There is no question of fake encounter as accused policemen were acting on a sound and genuine intelligence input,” court said.
In 2013, CBI had filed a chargesheet said that 19-year-old Mumbai college girl Ishrat, her friend Javed Sheikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals-Zishan Johar and Amjadali Rana, were killed in a fake encounter in a joint operation conducted by Gujarat Police and IB officers. The chargesheet claimed that the accused policemen had apprehended the four days before the encounter, kept them in illegal confinement and later shot them dead in cold blood. After killing them, the cops branded them as “Lashkar-e-Taiba” operatives who wanted to kill the then chief minister Narendra Modi to avenge atrocities on Muslims in Gujarat.
The report by the Metropolitan Magistrate S. P. Tamang submitted in the metropolitan court Ahmedabad on 7 September 2009 said the four persons were killed in police custody. It implicated a number of top police officials for the deaths, which were allegedly staged in order to win promotions and rewards.
The Ahmedabad Metropolitan court also ruled that the killing of Ishrat Jehan was a fake encounter.
In June 2013, the Tehelka magazine published an exposé that revealed that the CBI has in its possession an audio recording of a conversation between Gujarat’s former Minister of State and senior BJP politician Praful Patel, senior IAS officer G C Murmu, and other top officials in a meeting called to chalk out a plan to safeguard the interests of the officers whose names could crop up in the investigation. The conversation was secretly recorded by a meeting attendee, Girish Laxman Singhal, one of the two accused police officers who have been arrested by the CBI in the case.