By Rana Ayyub
2013-07-06, Issue 27 Volume 10
The CBI is set to submit before a court next week a testimony that claims Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was in the know of a conspiracy by policemen to kill four people, including a woman, in 2004 and falsely pass them off as terrorists. The testimony is from a police officer who claims to have overheard a conversation between two other officers, one from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the other from the police, who were both said to be close to Modi at that time.
The CBI would submit this testimony with its chargesheet in the case on 4 July. The testifying officer is an accused in the pre-dawn killing of the four people, including Ishrat Jahan, 19. The killings were carried out on 15 June 2004 by men of the Crime Branch of Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city that adjoins state capital Gandhinagar. Police said the alleged terrorists were headed to assassinate Modi.
To be sure, the alleged conversation — between Rajendra Kumar of the IB, a Central agency, and Crime Branch officer DG Vanzara — did not mention Modi by name. The testifying officer, who belongs to the IPS and whose identity TEHELKA has decided to withhold to protect him from intimidation, claims Vanzara told Kumar in his presence that the conspiracy to kill the four people had been approved by both the “Safed Daadhi (grey beard)” and the “Kali Daadhi (black beard)”.
The CBI believes that the former is a reference to Modi and the latter to Amit Shah, Modi’s long-time confidant who was then the state’s junior home minister in charge of the state police. Modi, as chief minister, had kept the home portfolio with him then, as he still does. The CBI plans to tell the court that in view of this officer’s testimony, it wants to probe Modi’s role in the killing. The testimony was sworn before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code and is admissible as evidence. A CBI officer confirmed that Kumar would be named as an accused in the chargesheet. (The CBI has 21 sworn testimonies in the case, 14 of which are from IPS officers.)
The CBI chargesheet will also claim that the alleged leader of the four people killed, Javed Ahmed Shaikh, had, in fact, worked as an informer for Kumar, who at that time had headed the Gujarat unit of the IB. The CBI says evidence suggests Kumar had asked Shaikh to come to Ahmedabad on the pretext of carrying out an assignment for him and then organised Shaikh’s killing along with that of the three others, including Jahan. On 18 June, the CBI had questioned Kumar, currently a Special Director with the IB, at Gandhinagar. It is learnt that the CBI might arrest him in a few days. TEHELKA had last week reported that more than one police officer has in sworn testimonies made before a magistrate claimed that Kumar had masterminded the extrajudicial murders.
Also, TEHELKA reported that GL Singhal, one of the accused police officers, has given the CBI an audiotape he says he secretly recorded in November 2011. It reportedly contains a conversation between Singhal and several top guns of the Modi government. The CBI says the group discussed ways to sabotage the investigation into the killings to save the officers involved from prosecution. The tape is also part of the chargesheet.
TEHELKA has now learnt the identity of two others in that conversation who it had not named last week. They are Pradeep Singh Jadeja, the minister for legislative affairs, and Bhupinder Chudasama, the education minister. Others in that conversation are Praful Patel, the then junior home minister who left the government after losing in last December’s Assembly election; GC Murmu, an IAS officer who is a confidant of Modi’s; and the government’s topmost lawyer who appears in this case, Advocate General Kamal Trivedi.
The meeting was reportedly held the night before a Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up on the orders of the Gujarat High Court was to submit its findings. In the tape, Trivedi is heard telling the others: “If the SIT tomorrow declares the Ishrat Jahan encounter fake, all of us will have to collectively stand up and shout that the SIT is fake.” Murmu allegedly says no harm should come to the state or its officers. The SIT report submitted the next day said the police kidnapped the four people and killed them in cold blood.
Modi’s government maintains that Shaikh, Jahan, who was a college student from near Mumbai, and the other two men, both allegedly Pakistanis, were terrorists. It claims that the police challenged them outside Ahmedabad and killed them in an exchange of gunfire. The IB had provided the intelligence input that a Pakistani terrorist outfit, Lashkar -e- Toiba, had sent the four to avenge a massacre of about 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 by Hindu zealots linked to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The CBI chargesheet will now accuse Kumar of fabricating that intelligence input. TEHELKA had reported last week that the CBI also has testimonies from officers alleging that Kumar visited Jahan while she was in illegal police custody before she was killed and that an AK-47 gun found on those killed had been sourced from Kumar’s IB office and planted there.
The CBI chargesheet will also suggest that the other two men killed that night — Zeeshan Jauhar and Amjad Ali Rana — were not Pakistanis but possibly secessionist militants from Jammu & Kashmir with some connection with terror groups. It says Kumar had earlier introduced the duo to Shaikh, the informer, and “encouraged” him to stay in touch with them. Before the killings, it was Kumar who had asked Shaikh to get the duo to travel to Ahmedabad, which Shaikh had then organised, say CBI sources. The CBI will be seeking an extension from the trial court for further probe on precisely how the four were introduced to Kumar.
In fact, says the CBI, Kumar made the three men phone their alleged counterparts in Pakistan and recorded those conversations. It was these recordings that the English language television news channel, Headlines Today, broadcast earlier this month to suggest they were terrorists heading to kill Modi, say sources. These cell phones used to make the calls to Pakistan were planted next to their bodies.
The CBI says Kumar scripted Shaikh’s travels in the days preceding his arrival in Ahmedabad that led to his killing. It was Kumar who arranged for Shaikh to travel to Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow, to buy a locally-made pistol. It was at Kumar’s behest that Shaikh travelled to Aurangabad city in Maharashtra. In every hotel he stayed in, Shaikh used aliases as Kumar had told him to do so, say CBI sources.
Both Vanzara and Shah, the former junior home minister, are also accused in another alleged extrajudicial killing in 2005 of a married couple, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Kausar Bi, who, too, were branded as terrorists killed in a shootout. Vanzara has been arrested in both the 2004 and the 2005 killings. Shah was arrested in 2010 in the Sohrabuddin-Kausar Bi killings and bailed three months later. Two months ago, the BJP put Shah in charge of the party in UP, India’s politically most influential state where the BJP hopes to win big to return to power in New Delhi in next year’s General Election.
But Shah faces bad news next week. The CBI is planning to summon him for questioning in yet another case, that of the extrajudicial killing of Sadiq Jamal, a 22-year-old Muslim youth the police killed in Ahmedabad in 2003.
The CBI says Shah had connected with Kumar, who figures prominently in Jamal’s killing, on the day of the alleged encounter. Currently investigating four cases in which the police are accused of killing people in cold blood in Gujarat and labelling them terrorists, the CBI says Kumar’s culpability is starkest in the shooting of Jamal. Last week, TEHELKA reported that former and current IB officers from Maharashtra had given sworn testimonies against him.
The CBI has interrogated two senior IB officers in the neighbouring state, Datta Palsagikar and Gururaj Savagatti, who it believes falsified the intelligence inputs about Jamal being a terrorist and became part of the conspiracy to kill him. The CBI has also interrogated a suspended Mumbai Police officer, Pradeep Sharma, who had once gained notoriety as an “encounter specialist” for shooting dead over a hundred alleged criminals. Jamal had been in Sharma’s custody before he was handed to Gujarat Police. Sharma is serving a sentence in Mumbai for similarly faking an encounter killing there.
A police officer that the CBI has already arrested in Gujarat in Jamal’s killing is Tarun Barot, a DSP who allegedly took Jamal’s custody from Mumbai. Barot is also an accused in the 2004 encounter killing. The CBI, which has filed a first chargesheet in the Jamal killing, says it is investigating the role of the IB in fabricating the intelligence input about Jamal that the police cited in killing him.
The CBI’s interrogation of Kumar has been long in the waiting. For a year the IB stonewalled the CBI’s attempts to question Kumar. But when lately Kumar’s complicity became increasingly evident in both the killings of Jamal and of Jahan, IB chief Asif Ibrahim, CBI director Ranjit Sinha and Union Home Secretary RK Singh met over days to discuss ways to proceed. It is learnt that Kumar arrived in Gandhinagar this month to meet the CBI after his bosses told him they had been promised that he would not be arrested. Satish Verma, a CBI officer on the case who the Gujarat government has accused of being biased against it, refused to join the interrogation in protest.
Though the CBI is armed with a slew of testimonies, they are relying more than the others on Singhal, who promises to be a key witness. Once a star policeman but now disgraced, Singhal is said to have decided to speak the truth after his only child, his 17-year-old son, committed suicide this year. “This is divine justice, sir,” he told CBI officers during a conversation, breaking down. “I have been punished as I killed the innocent.”
Rajinder Kumar to Be Arrested For His Role in Ishrat Killing
Rajinder Kumar to Be Arrested For His Role in Ishrat Killing
By Rana Ayyub
June 29, 2013
Amidst rumours that Government Of India had given a clean chit to IB Special Director Rajinder Kumar for his role in the Ishrat Jahan encounter, highly placed sources in the CBI have confirmed to TEHELKA that there was enough evidence against Rajinder Kumar. “We are just going to brief the officials concerned, we have gathered enough evidence against the cops and IB officials which proves their complicity,” a source told this reporter.
While there were suggestions earlier that the CBI would name Rajinder Kumar only in the supplementary chargesheet, news has just come in that Kumar will be an accused in the chargesheet to be filed on the 2nd July. “If he’s an accused in the chargesheet, he will certainly face arrest,” the source said.
Earlier last week TEHELKA had given evidence of Rajinder Kumar and his complicity in not just the Ishrat Jahan but also the Sadiq Jamal fake encounter. CBI sources said they had evidence that Kumar visited Ishrat Jahan in illegal confinement. TEHELKA had also exposed this week that the encounters allegedly had consent from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and former Home Minister Amit Shah. Two weeks ago TEHELKA had published contents of a sting operation done by GL Singhal in which he recorded conversations of senior Gujarat officials talking of obfuscating the course of investigation.
Encounters of the Fake Kind
By Mukul Sinha
2013-07-06 , Issue 27 Volume 10
Photo: Trupti Patel
Javed Ahmed Shaikh took 14 bullets from assorted weapons, including AK-47s, while he sat helplessly behind the steering wheel of the blue Indica car. When he left his father’s house in Kerala on 5 June 2004, he did not have the slightest idea that he was driving towards his death that was awaiting him at Ahmedabad in Gujarat.
As he was driving through Karnataka towards his hometown Pune in Maharashtra, he received a phone call late in the night of 6 June. A mysterious call from Gandhinagar asking him to immediately come over to Gujarat. A call that he could not disobey. Javed did not stop at Pune and kept driving towards Ahmedabad. On the way, he first drove to Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar city, where he dropped his wife and children at his sister-in-law’s house on 9 June.
On the morning of 11 June, after a day’s rest at Ahmednagar, Javed started for Ahmedabad via Nasik. He reached Vasad in Gujarat around noon and to his utter shock, two police officers from Gujarat literally abducted him along with his car and drove him to a farm on the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar Highway in Ahmedabad.
Early in the morning of 15 November, around 3 am, he was driven in the same Indica car, along with another person he did not know and a girl named Ishrat Jahan, to a lonely spot near the Kotarpur Water Works in the Sardarnagar area of Ahmedabad. A large posse of policemen were waiting for the rendezvous. Ishrat was dragged out of the car and then the firing started. Javed and the other person sitting at the back of the car were mowed down. He didn’t live to see Ishrat being shot in her head and pushed next to him in the car, nor did he see the third man who was blindfolded and gunned down outside the car.
The nation was told that Javed, Ishrat and the other two men shot down that morning were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives who had come to Gujarat to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Coincidentally, the same story had been told a couple of times earlier: when Samir Khan Pathan was gunned down in 2002 and also when Sadiq Jamal was shot dead on 13 January 2003. The modus operandi in all three cases was the same.
In 2005, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were killed under the cover of similar allegations. Tulsi Prajapati met the same fate in 2006. Four young Kashmiris from a madrasa near Surat were gunned down in March 2006, and guess why? Because they wanted to kill Modi!
Now that almost all these so-called encounters have been established as fake by investigation agencies functioning under the orders of either the Supreme Court or the Gujarat High Court, the big question is: who was organising these killings to promote the myth that Jihadi terrorists were after Modi’s life? Who were the people in authority that could manufacture false intelligence inputs to justify the murder of innocent citizens, including teenagers like Ishrat.
One name that has repeatedly surfaced for allegedly not only creating many such false inputs but also actively participating in the murder conspiracies is Rajendra Kumar, the then Joint Director of the Intelligence Bureau posted at Ahmedabad during 2003-04. There is overwhelming evidence in the Sadiq Jamal case, with the Bhavnagar Superintendent of Police naming Kumar as the person who phoned him on 29 November 2002, asking him to detain Sadiq. In the Ishrat-Javed case, the CBI has even uncovered evidence establishing that Kumar participated in meetings with police officers conspiring to kill Javed and the others.
The BJP and its prominent leaders, however, are trying hard to tarnish the CBI’s image in order to scare them off from arresting Kumar. Perhaps they are worried that many top BJP leaders may be next in line in case Kumar is arrested. If the CBI fails to apprehend Kumar, it would be a failure of the rule of law. We have to wait and watch. Will our great democracy win or will a handful of killers write the future of this nation?