CBI court discharges last three accused in Ishrat Jahan case

CBI court discharges last three accused in Ishrat Jahan case

Ishrat Jahan was a 19-year-old woman from Mumbai, who was killed in an encounter in 2004 in Gujarat.

A special CBI court in Ahmedabad on Wednesday discharged police officers in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case.

Special CBI judge V R Raval on Wednesday allowed the discharge applications of G L Singhal, Tarun Barot (now retired) and Anaju Chaudhary. The three, also the last accused facing prosecution in the case, had filed applications before the court on March 20, seeking "dropping of proceedings for want of requisite sanction".

Following their plea, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the court that the Gujarat government had declined prosecution sanction against the three accused in the encounter case. "The Gujarat government has declined sanction for the prosecution of the three accused. We submitted the letter to the court," RC Kodekar, the special prosecutor, had said.

The court had in its October 2020 order observed that they had “acted in their official duties,” so the probe agency was required to obtain prosecution sanction.

The CBI had named seven police officers -- Pandey, Vanzara, Amin, Singhal, Barot, Parmar, and Chaudhary - as accused in its first charge sheet filed in 2013.

CBI court discharges last three accused in Ishrat Jahan case
Ishrat Jahan threatened for wearing hijab to Hindu function; Asked to vacate house 

In 2019, the CBI court had dropped proceedings against former police officers D G Vanzara and N K Amin in the case after the state government similarly refused sanction. In 2018, former in-charge Director General of Police P P Pandey was discharged from the case. Parmar died during the course of hearing.

Who Was Ishrat Jahan?

Ishrat Jahan was a 19-year-old woman from Mumbai, who was killed in an encounter in 2004 in Gujarat. The other three killed in the encounter were Jishan Johar, Amjad Ali Akbar Ali Rana and Javed Shaikh.

CBI court discharges last three accused in Ishrat Jahan case
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The Gujarat police said she was on a terror mission to assassinate Narendra Modi, the then Gujarat chief minister. The police said it was a suicide (fidayeen) mission. Police identified Johar and Rana as Pakistani nationals. Shaikh was allegedly “arranging their local network”.

Ishrat Jahan was not initially identified by the police, when it registered the FIR on the day of the encounter. She went by “female terrorist” in the police record. Later, her identity came to as a college student from Mumbai’s suburb Mumbra.

In July 2004, a Pakistan-based news outlet published a report in which terror outfit, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) claimed that Ishrat Jahan was its operative by describing her as “woman activist of LeT”. Police mentioned this report in its investigation. The claim was later retracted by the terror group.

CBI court discharges last three accused in Ishrat Jahan case
Ishrat Jahan threatened for wearing hijab to Hindu function; Asked to vacate house 

The said encounter took place in June 2004. The FIR said a police officer received a tip-off from a personal source that three men were on their way from Mumbai to Ahmedabad in a blue Indica along with firearms and explosives.

The police intercepted the vehicle on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. A shootout ensued, the police said. Four people were killed in the shootout. Police said the terrorists fired more than 50 rounds from two revolvers and two Kalashnikovs. No policeperson was injured in the shootout.

The encounter became hugely controversial with human rights activists and BJP's rival parties alleging that it was a targeted killing. The Supreme Court later ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the killings, in which the role of several police officers of Gujarat came under probe.

DG Vanzara, the police officer who led the encounter and spent time in jail, was discharged from the case 17 years later, in 2019. The CBI had arrested six police personnel in connection with the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. All six have now been discharged by the CBI court in Ahmedabad.

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