STF receives applications from former DGP Sreekumar, Shabnam Hashmi

Ex-top cop alleges encounters took place due to Modi's 'policy of elimination'.

The Special Task Force (STF) formed to probe into 16 encounters that took place in the state after 2002 has received applications from eight people, including a retired DGP, who have claimed to know about these encounters. Justice (retd) H S Bedi, who heads the STF, is arriving here this week and will review these applications for a hearing.

The Supreme Court had order the state government to form a monitoring committee and STF on a petition by poet Javed Akhtar and senior journalist B G Verghese filed in 2007, requesting investigation of all the encounters reported in Gujarat after 2002.

Among those who have sent applications are retired DGP R B Sreekumar and activist Shabnam Hashmi, besides the family members of those killed in these police encounters.

"These applicants have maintained that these encounters were not genuine and the victims were killed by police officers for various reasons for benefits or reasons other than mentioned in their duty as policemen," a senior STF member told The Indian Express.

The families have responded to public notices issued by the STF a few months ago to furnish statements and present facts or allegations before the STF. They have stated that the victims were goons and "trusted" police informers who were shot dead after the police's needs were over.

According to the application of Sreekumar, a copy of which is with this paper, the encounters took place as per Chief Minister Narendra Modi's "policy of elimination".

Sreekumar has claimed that the then state chief secretary in 2002, Subba Rao, had told him several times that the "CM Modi believes in policy of elimination that is based on situational logic".

Sreekumar has claimed that at a meeting held by the CM in 2002, Subbarao told him that anyone found disturbing events like Rath Yatra should be eliminated.

"This is a policy and a well-considered decision of Chief Minister Narendra Modi," Sreekumar has quoted Rao as telling him at the meeting.

This is part of a register of verbal instructions that Sreekumar reportedly maintained in 2002 when he was ADGP (Intelligence).

One of the applicants has claimed that Sanjay alias Sanju Sharda Singh, who was killed in an encounter in south Gujarat, was one of the "informers" allegedly used by suspended IPS officer Abhay Chudasama. The other cases of this region include encounters of Himla Machchar and Mahesh Gadhwali.

Shabnam has alleged that the "investigations" by the STF are futile as Gujarat Police officers are its members, right from the chairman to field officers.

She has urged Justice Bedi to reconstitute the STF with police officers of "credibility and experience".

She has alleged that STF members are close to Modi and are posted in the Ahmedabad Crime Branch. This assumes significance as three of the encounters, including of Sameer Khan Pathan in 2003, involved Crime Branch officers.

"Justice Bedi will look into all these representations and allegations and then call the applicants at the monitoring authority's office in Gandhinagar to record their statements," said the STF member.

According to STF officials, most of the affected families did not reply to their summons, following which the police personally visited their houses and delivered the summons.

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