No evidence to book Shah in Ishrat case: CBI
AHMEDABAD The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday gave a clean chit to Amit Shah, former Gujarat home minister and BJP leader Narendra Modi’s close aide, in the alleged fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan and three others, saying it did not have sufficient evidence to indict him.
The Ishrat Jahan encounter case, an ongoing criminal case in Gujarat, took place on June 15 2004, and involved encounter killings of Ishrat Jahan Raza, 19, from Mumbai, and three men: Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar who were alleged links to terrorists, by officers of the Ahmedabad Police Crime Branch.
The encounter was carried out allegedly by a team led by police officer DG Vanjara, who was later jailed for his alleged involvement in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter.
The police alleged that Ishrat and her associates were Lashkare Toiba (LeT) operatives involved in a plot to assassinate Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi.
“There is no sufficient evidence against Amit Shah. Hence CBI has not indicted him,” CBI officer Vishwas Kumar Meena said in an affidavit filed before the special CBI court on Wednesday.
“It is most respectfully submitted that Shah was not named in the first information report of the case. The CBI has also not named him in the indictment as an accused,” CBI affidavit said.
Gopinath Pillai, father of Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai who was killed in the encounter, had approached the court of special CBI Judge Geeta Gopi to arraign Shah and former commissioner of police of the city KR Kaushik as accused in the encounter case.
Pillai had cited the resignation letter of suspended IPS officer and one of the accused in the Ishrat Jahan case DG Vanzara in his petition.
Regarding the resignation letter, CBI has said in its affidavit: “The said resignation letter contains general allegations and not providing any concrete information about the role of Shah in this offence. After receiving the letter, CBI examined Vanzara in the jail. However, he has not disclosed any further details during his examinations.”
Vanzara had in his letter said that police “was following conscious policy of state government”, while conducting the encounter. CBI has also given clean chit to Kaushik, the then city police commissioner and has made him a witness in the case.
“During further investigation and evidence collected so far, it appears that Kaushik was not involved in the conspiracy of killing the deceased,” it said, adding that they have shown him as a prosecution witness in their supplementary indictment filed in the case. CBI has also demanded to dismiss the application filed by Pillai.
The federal agency has named IPS officer Vanzara PP Pandey, GL Singhal and other police officers as accused in the fake encounter case indictment, saying that it was a joint operation by Gujarat Police and Intelligence Bureau.
The Congress sought to downplay a clean chit given by the CBI to Amit Shah and said it reflects “functional freedom” of the investigating agency.
“If CBI has decided not to include Shah’s name in the indictment, it is CBI’s professional decision,” Congress spokesperson Shashi Tharoor said.
He went on to add that it is another proof that the CBI, which has been derided by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shah as ‘Congress Bureau of Investigation’, has “functional freedom” and enjoys independence. At the same time, he said the case of 2004 has “not been decided yet” and so there is “no exoneration” by the court.