Friday 18th Jan 2019
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IB Role in Encounters Exposed Union Home Ministry in a Dilemma, Wants to Play Dove

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SYYED MANSOOR AGHA analyses the news reports indicating the role of IB officials in fake encounters in the Narendra Modi-led Hindutva laboratory of Gujarat, and finds the Union Home Ministry in a terrible to-do-or-not-to-do dilemma.

It was 15 June, 2004 when a 19-year old student from Bombay, Ishrat Jahan was declared killed in encounter by Gujarat Police in Ahmedabad. On 9 Sept, 2009 Magistrate S.P. Tamang concluded in his 243-page enquiry report, “Ishrat was innocent and was killed only because she was a Muslim and fitted the Gujarat Police’s idea of a terrorist.”

Deducing the motive of killing, the report pointed out that the police carried out this fake encounter to get rewards and promotions. To curry favour with the Chief Minister they also floated a story that she and her associates had come to eliminate the C.M.

After huge hue and cry on the Magisterial report, the Gujarat High Court constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under IPS officer RR Verma of Bihar Cadre. Mohan Jha and Satish Verma, also IPS officers, were other two members of the team. After extensive investigation and twice recreating the scene of purported encounter, the SIT also reached the same conclusion. The SIT report, submitted in November 2011, said the encounter was fake and Ishrat Jahan and three others were killed elsewhere prior to the reported encounter and dumped there.

After these two reports, the Division Bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice Abhilasha Kumari ordered CBI enquiry and said, “The probe agency would need to find out who played the key role in the encounter, what was the motive and what was the actual time of the death of the four people.”

An investigation report published in the Times of India on 22 June 2010, revealed that the input from Intelligence Bureau (IB) that claimed to have triggered the Ishrat Jahan encounter was “concocted” and that the probe revealed: “First the Gujarat police would get hold of accused, like in the Ishrat Jahan case, then they would get together with IB officers stationed in the State to trigger a suitable “intelligence input” to justify their operation.”

The FIR filed after the “encounter” said, “Fifteen days ago, an intelligence input had been provided by intelligence sources that from Kashmir, two Pakistani fidayeen of LeT have separately left for Ahmedabad. Their names are Zeeshan Johar alias Janbaaz alias Abdulgani, r/o Narnanak Kalerbadi, district Gujranwala, Punjab, Pakistan; Amjad Ali Akbarali Rana alias Salim alias Chandu alias Rajkumar, r/o Haveli Diwan, Bhalwal District, Sargoda, Punjab, Pakistan. Apart from them, Javed — a Lashkar operative from Pune, Maharashtra — has been setting up the local network for these two Pakistani fidayeen. These Pakistani fidayeen and Javed aim to kill the Gujarat Chief Minister in a suicide attack. And for this, they have been doing surveys in Ahmedabad and Gandhi Nagar of the Chief Minister’s residence, office and the routes he travels.”

The two probes negated the inference of FIR. The CBI probe further demolished the Gujarat Police story when it found that an IB officer posted in Ahmedabad was hand in gloves with the Gujarat Police. The officer of the rank of Special Director not only triggered false input but was also in know of the conspiracy. He shared the questioning of Ishrat Jahan and others in Gujarat Police custody prior to their killing. When CBI approached him to co-operate in the investigation regarding his role, he ducked until was threatened to be arrested.

The firm stand of CBI caused tremors in the BJP camp and IB was also alarmed. IB Director Syed Asif Ibrahim immediately shot a letter to P.M.O. resulting in immediate action by Union Home Secretary R K Singh. He convened a meeting of CBI Director Ranjit Sinha and IB chief Asif Ibrahim. After Sinha showed the evidence against Mr. Kumar, the agency was given green signal to go ahead but not to arrest him. Kumar was directed to respond calls from CBI and co-operate with it. Mr. Ibrahim pleaded that if Rajinder Kumar is arrested, it is bound to demoralise the officers of IB who “monitor” terrorist activities and guide anti-terror activities. This is a lame argument. If Kumar violated his official mandate, he must face the heat in the court and be punished according to the law of the land.

However, if he was within the edifice of official mandate, the Union Government is answerable and must tell the nation the purposes for which the premier investigating agency was being used. We understand that arresting a senior officer of Special Director rank in a case in which IB sought to implicate a neighbouring country in a terror activity, may have unpleasant diplomatic complications like those of Samjhauta Express blast cases. The question is, should such cases be swept under the carpet without rectifying policies? Can such a covert action help the country to show good record and safeguard the human rights of people?

A DNA report suggests that Union Home Ministry is not in favour of arresting or prosecuting Mr. Kumar and maintains that evidence against him are not sufficient. This is worth supporting stand, provided not applied selectively. In scores of cases, it is found that young people are arrested, jailed and prosecuted without genuine evidence against them. Evidences are fabricated and fall apart in the courts. Such draconian clauses are slapped against them that even bail is not granted and they have to spend years together in jails before being pronounced innocent by the courts. Why the Home Ministry is not vigilant to stop the practice and why is it sleeping upon the pleas to expedite their prosecution and punish the officers who have made the lives innocent Muslim youth hell.  

It may be noted that at the time of Ishrat Jahan Encounter, Mr. L.K. Advani, was Union Home Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi Chief Minister and Mr. Amit Shah Home Minsiter of Gujarat. All three have been in long association with RSS, which has been targeting native Muslims as well as neighbouring Muslim dominated countries to buttress its agenda of Hindutva.

It is not the first time that the dubious role of IB in terror investigation and counter-terror cases is in open. Way back in 2008, Mr. S. M. Mushrif, a former IG Police Maharashtra, devoted a full chapter in his book, Who Killed Karkare? Chapter X, “The Charge Sheet against IB”, in which he summarised with 20 subheads the “acts of omissions and commissions” of the agency. Interestingly, all acts are aimed at maligning neighbouring countries and in particular the community which has religious proximity with those countries. This is apparently to satisfy the agenda of Tel Aviv and Nagpur in international and national perspectives. 

After sensational disclosure of an IB officer’s involvement in Ishrat Jahan case, the role of the premier intelligence agency of the country is under clouds in another dubious encounter case of Mohd Sadiq by the same Gujarat Police. Pranab Dhal Samanta in a chilling report in the Indian Express on 28 June, 2013, said, “After the Ishrat Jahan controversy, the 2003 Sadiq Jamal Mehtar fake encounter case has landed at the doorstep of the Intelligence Bureau, with the CBI recently questioning two IB officials for their alleged role in “handing over” Sadiq to the Gujarat police.”

IB picked Sadiq from Mumbai with the help of Maharashtra Police when he returned from the Gulf. IB allegedly kept him in illegal custody for several days and then handed him over to Gujarat Police. Here again the Gujarat Police claimed of IB intelligence input that Sadiq Jamal was plotting the assassination of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Here again the role of Mr. Rajender Kumar is in doubt. CBI is planning to press ahead with the investigations after a decision was taken not to interfere in the CBI probe and let the agency move unhindered as the main opposition is demanding to free the parrot of the cage.

The two cases are politically as well as administratively very sensitive. IB may be more worried of Sadiq’s case than of Ishrat’s encounter, as the role of only one officer, Kumar is not in doubt but other IB officials may also be questioned. The two are not merely the cases of Intelligence alert but more importantly of IB sleuths’ role in encounters.

Sadiq was in Dubai and was alleged to have joined the Dawood Ibrahim gang and that he was indoctrinated to become a terrorist and then sent “to kill Modi and Advani.”

The crucial issue is that if the IB, with the help of Maharashtra police, had picked up Sadiq, then why was he handed over to the Gujarat police without mandatory transit permission from the court? Sources indicate that Gujarat Police was pleased to receive the prized catch. Therefore, Sadiq’s illegal handing over raised suspicion on the role of IB officials.

Sadiq, a 25-year-old from Bhavnagar, was killed on 13 January 2003, in the Naroda area of Ahmedabad. The police claimed they were acting on a central agency tip-off and opened fire only in “self-defence”. Sadiq’s brother Shabbir later filed a petition in Gujarat High Court on which CBI probe was ordered. The agency filed its first charge sheet last December in which eight police officials were named for staging a fake encounter. In a recent hearing, CBI said it’s probing the role of other officials including those from the IB.

S.R. Darapuri, in his article, “Is IB a Holy Cow?” reminded, “IB also played a dirty trick by getting broadcast a so-called audio CD, without any authenticity thereof, in which Ishrat Jahan is alleged to be in conversation with LeT operatives. (A report said that she was made to make the call under duress in Gujarat Police custody.) They also put forth the plea that Headley had also told that Ishrat Jahan was a member of LeT. It is surprising that Central Government which filed an affidavit in Gujarat High Court has not mentioned anything about Ishrat Jahan being a LeT member. It clearly shows that all these are fake pleas to shield the wrong doings of Rajinder Kumar. His involvement in this murder conspiracy has been testified before the court by Mr. Singhal, a Gujarat police officer who was directly involved in this case. This evidence establishes beyond doubt the involvement of Kumar in the fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan and three others.”

A report on NDTV claims that go ahead for the encounter came from “kali darhi” and “ujli darhi”, purportedly indicating Amit Shah and Modi. CBI will submit its FIR on 4 July. It is being guessed that it may indicate Kumar’s role and may also implicate Shah and Modi. This case is bound to have its political implications. Union Home Ministry may not be in favour of irking IB which has grown stronger than the Government itself. If UPA Government at the Centre decides to oppose prosecution of Kumar, it is bound to expose its commitment to secularism as well as law and order. It will also show it in a bad light for not adhering to law without prejudice. It will also expose its already bad record of human rights.

[The writer, Gen Sec of Forum for Civil Rights, can be reached at]

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