'Ishrat encounter faked by cops, IB'

FP

Ending weeks of suspense over its probe into the June 2004 killing of 19-year-old Mumbai student Ishrat Jahan and three men, the CBI Wednesday filed a chargesheet against seven Gujarat Police officers saying the four were abducted and eliminated in a "fake" encounter in collusion with the Intellligence Bureau.

The CBI claimed that the FIR about the encounter — which said the four were Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists out to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi — was drafted before it took place. It alleged that the killing was a "joint operation" of the Gujarat Police and the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB), which works under the Centre.

The agency has listed 179 witnesses in the case and said it is still probing the conspiracy and motive behind the killings and will soon file a supplementary chargesheet.

In the chargesheet filed in a special CBI court, the CBI claimed that sophisticated weapons were planted on Ishrat and the three men after they were procured from the SIB by one set of police officers.

These officers allegedly passed it on to their colleagues who participated in the shooting and planted the weapons on the four victims.

The CBI and the IB have been locked in a tussle over what the CBI says is the role of IB special director Rajinder Kumar, posted in Gujarat at the time of the incident.

The agency, which has been facing flak from the BJP for investigating the IB, said the charges were filed only after examining evidence. "The CBI's investigations is based strictly on evidence, call records and examination of witnesses and there is no interference or involvement of any extraneous factor," CBI spokeswoman Dharini Mishra said.

Despite the Ministry of Home Affairs claiming that it is not convinced about the evidence against Kumar, the CBI chargesheet has claimed that Kumar, along with disgraced DIG D G Vanzara and Gujarat ADGP P P Pandey, held meetings at Vanzara's office.

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