The Ishrat Jahan chargesheet: CBI makes a case for cold blooded murder

Editors note: Firstpost had put out the CBI chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan case. The full chargesheet is available here. The law students from NALSAR University, Hyderabad have analysed the chargesheet with some arguing for the document, and others against. This article is by the students who supported the CBI chargesheet and argued that there was a compelling case made by the investigative agency.

Read the other argument here

by Manasi Gandhi and Paras Pandey

 The Ishrat Jahan chargesheet: CBI makes a case for cold blooded murder

Image from IBNlive

There's just no doubt about it: the CBI's chargesheet, which lists as many as 179 witnesses, makes it clear that Ishrat Jahan Raza, Javed Sheikh, Amjadali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were kidnapped and then killed.

Not only was the entire operation guided by absolute malafide intent, it was also badly planned and executed. The defence can nitpick, and allege that the four people murdered had links with terrorist groups. Perhaps they did-but that's completely irrelevant: this was cold-blooded murder.

Evidence for abduction:

The CBI evidence shows that Ishrat and her companions simply couldn't have engaged in an encounter with the police. The statements made by guards and officials of a certain toll booth show that occupants of the same blue Indica involved in the incident were apprehended by the police on 11 June, 2004, long before the so-called 'encounter'.

This fact is perhaps one of the most crucial clues in connecting all the pieces of this mystery together. If the police’s actions were indeed driven by good faith, the apprehended people should have, along with the car, been produced before a magistrate within 24 hours. The police’s inability to contest this factual allegation indicates a gross violation of the Fundamental Right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The statements made by witnesses on pages 145, 148, 155 and 175 of the charge-sheet are proof that the abduction- what would have appeared to be an ‘arrest’ to bystanders and workers of the toll booth -  was in fact an illegal act driven by sinister motive.

The four people were then kept in captivity for a few days before the false encounter. At page 167, one of the gardeners at Khodiyar farm narrates how he was prevented from entering the main building at the farm, and confirms having seen Ishrat at the said location.

The accounts of the people who rent out the farm tie in with this account. Ishrat’s mother clearly stressed about her concern upon Ishrat’s phone going out of service - cross-checking with statements from others also questioned indicates that her phone became unreachable around the very time that the abduction took place.

The official police account does not mentions the arrest and detention of Ishrat and her companions anywhere. Clearly, Ishrat was arrested along with Javed when they were travelling in the blue Indica and had stopped to pay the toll.

Subsequent to this, they were kept in captivity while the details of executing the heinous crime worked out - deputy Superintendent of Police Goswami has deposed before the SIT shedding light on DIG Vanzara’s detailed planning before the actual execution. There is be no doubt that these acts of the police and intelligence officers were not in the nature of acts guided by good faith but were in fact aimed at furthering their criminal intention to commit cold blooded murder.

Evidence of Extra-judicial Killing:

A waiting blue Indica- the very car he had been ordered to intercept, a blindfolded and captive person, and glaring contradictions between what he had been told by his superiors and what he actually found, led Police Inspector Chauhan to conclude that he was present at the site of an extrajudicial execution or a fake encounter.

A white Qualis had brought Amjad Ali to the place of the 'encounter' after the police arrived.  Ali was blindfolded and made to stand near the divider, and once he was in position, the officers all opened fire on him. They proceeded to fire at the blue Indica next, thereby killing all the 4 persons who had been abducted by the different officers from different locations.

The various testimonies of Inspector Chauhan, DSP Goswami, and the others indicate that of all the police personnel present, only Mohan Nanji and Inspector Chauhan did not fire at the victims. Their weapons were forcibly taken from them and used on the dead bodies of the victims by officers since they wished to strengthen their claims of having engaged in a fake encounter.

In furtherance fabricating and planting evidence in support of their story, an AK-56 was used to spray bullets on a police vehicle and this weapon was placed on Amjad Ali’s body, which was now lying flat across the divider. The dead were named in the FIR (which had been prepared in advance, according to DSP Goswami’s testimony) as being members of the dreaded Lashkar-e-Taiba.

This done, the police proceeded to gather witnesses from the crowd that had gathered around the ‘encounter site’. According to the forensics expert who went to the site, the police collected the shells that had fallen as a result of the shooting in derogation from what the actual procedure ought to have been- no markings were made on the ground where these had dropped.

Signatures taken during the medical proceedings too were inconsistent with the prescribed legal rules. People who had no idea about the contents of certain medical reports were made to attest the same, while one person was even made to sign on a blank sheet of paper. This signature later appeared on a document which certified the presence of nitrates discovered on the hands of the deceased. The chemical procedure, called ‘hand wash’, detects presence of chemicals used in modern-day gunpowder and explosives.

Even if these may be ignored as mere procedural lapses, the recovery of certain bullets from the bodies of Ishrat and another victim, indicate a deviance from the official account of events. Any weapon from which a bullet is fired leaves its signature on the bullet. This signature, in the form of grooves, is used by ballistics experts to trace the weapon of origin of bullets.

In the present case, two recovered bullets were fired from a weapon of a calibre the sort of which can be found in the legal possession of only service personnel, that is, the military and paramilitary forces. However, the particular weapon from which these were fired has not been placed on record by the police for unknown reasons. In the present circumstances, and adverse inference can be easily drawn about the reason for such concealment.

The presence of these unexplained bullets is of great significance. Clearly, the events did not unfold as has been claimed. As for the AK-56 alleged to have been found on the person of the deceased- how difficult it would be for high ranking intelligence and police officials to procure a weapon ordinarily found with terrorists (and in stray cases, with Bollywood actors) is anyone’s guess.

Evidence as to involvement of Senior Police and Intelligence officials:

While the rumours of the involvement of the higher-ups of the Gujarat state Government in the extra-judicial killing of Ishrat Jahan and her fellow victims have been doing the rounds for a while now, only recently has the proof to substantiate such claims emerged in the public eye. The prime accused in the present case, Superintendent of Police, GL Singhal, has provided the CBI with recordings of his telephonic conversations with  then Home Minister Amit Shah, confirming the role of the top brass of the State government in the extra judicial killings.

In the chargesheet filed by the CBI and the various testimonies collected in the course of its investigation, cogent evidence to the effect that the encounter was not only pre-planned but also had explicit approval of some of the top political leadership, has surfaced.

Amongst many claims, there is sufficient evidence to tie the prime accused to the fake encounter since more than one policeman, as witness, has testified before the special investigation team of the CBI that the four met at Khodiyar Farms to interrogate Javed and Ishrat, both of whom were being held there.

Strengthening the case of the CBI, sufficient proof has emerged from the statement given by the of then Dy SP Goswami at pg. 177 of the charge sheet, to establish a conspiracy with additional proof that the encounter was well planned - so much so that the complaint that was to be filed after the encounter was prepared by DIG Vanzara in advance with only minute details like the number of bullets fired, etc left blank.

There is evidence that the Intelligence Bureau acted in consonance with the State Police in carrying out the encounter since their staff were identified as present along with members of the State Police at the Vasad toll booth where Javed and Ishrat were apprehended. There is further evidence at. pg. 200 of the charge sheet, from the statement of Police Inspector IK Chauhan, as to the complicity of the IB with the State Police since two officers of the IB identified as Sinha and Wankhede, were present with Barot when Amjad Ali was picked up and taken into custody in late May 2004 from near Ahemdabad.

The CBI now has evidence that the various senior officers and their accompanying gunmen and constables had arrived in 3 vehicles at Akshardham Tri Junction on the night of the encounter. From that point, two of the three vehicles had gone further to turning near Kotarpur Water Works. At pg. 182 of the chargesheet, unarmed Police Constable Nizamuddin Saiyed identified the senior officers charged in the present case, Singhal, Amin, Parmar and Barot as present at the scene of the crime on that fated night.

The authors are students of BA LLB (Hons) at the NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.  

Updated Date: Aug 04, 2013 17:00:21 IST