CBI arrests Gujarat IPS officer in Ishrat

In its first arrest in the Ishrat Jahan case, the CBI on Thursday took into custody IPS officer Girish Singhal, who was ACP, Crime Branch, at the time of the encounter in 2004. Singhal, who is now SP, State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB), was arrested from his office.

Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old from Mumbai, her friend Javed Sheikh, and two others were gunned down by a Crime Branch team outside Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

The CBI, which took over the probe in December 2011, lodged its FIR on the basis of the final report submitted by the SIT appointed by the Gujarat high court, headed by IPS officer Rajiv Ranjan Verma, which charged the accused — all policemen — with murder, abduction and criminal conspiracy.

"In view of the foregoing facts, it reasonably transpires that the purported encounter, as stated in the FIR of Ahmedabad City DCB PS 1 Cr No 8/2004, is not genuine. It implies that the right of private defence for causing death of four persons does not legally accrue to the concerned police officers," Verma had said in his 21-page report, a copy of which is with The Indian Express.

The CBI, in its FIR, had named 20 police officers, including Singhal, his aide Tarun Barot, accused in the Sohrabuddin case D G Vazara and N K Amin, former police commissioner K R Kaushik and other Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors.

Naming Singhal and Barot as the main accused, Verma, in his report, had said that the duo had confessed to opening fire on the four victims. Barot has since been arrested in the Sadiq Jamal encounter case.

After reaching the SCRB office at around 12 noon today, the CBI questioned Singhal for about two hours inside his office. He was later taken to the CBI office.

"Singhal was arrested from his office... He was taken to the Civil Hospital for a medical check-up, and then brought to the CBI office for questioning," confirmed a CBI officer associated with the probe.

"The CBI has taken forensic loopholes under consideration... Barot and Singhal, who had shot at Ishrat's Tata Indica car from one angle, gave two different versions," said CBI sources. Singhal is expected to be produced before the special CBI court on Friday.

The CBI had earlier questioned Singhal in the Sadiq Jamal encounter case also.

The CBI is also reported to have rounded up two commandos, Anaju Chaudhary and Mohan Nanjibhai, who were working with the Crime Branch in 2004. The commandos reportedly assisted N K Amin in stopping Ishrat's vehicle.

Meanwhile, welcoming today's arrest, Javed Sheikh's father, Gopinathan Pillai, said in Thiruvananthapuram that he has "full faith in the court which has entrusted the probe to the CBI". He said "the arrest shows that we are not far from justice''.

— with ENS, Thiruvananthapuram

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