On 3 July last year, when the CBI filed the first chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan case, it took the permission of the Ahmedabad (Rural) Judicial Magistrate to file a supplementary chargesheet later. Six months have passed, but the CBI is yet to file it. Instead, in the past four weeks or so, there have been several leaked stories in the major national dailies asserting that the CBI has given a clean chit to Amit Shah, who was the Gujarat MoS (Home) at the time of the killing, and BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi. The CBI has now leaked yet another story that Shah had claimed that the several calls he made in June 2004 to former IPS officer DG Vanzara, the main accused in the case, were official phone calls regarding a rath yatra. The investigation agency has apparently accepted Shah’s words as the truth.
The regularity with which stories have been leaked in the name of “highly placed sources in the CBI”, without any denial coming from the agency, makes it clear that the CBI is hand-in-glove with Modi and Shah to let them off the hook in the Ishrat case. Even before filing a supplementary chargesheet, the CBI has announced its findings in the public domain, perhaps to please the BJP and its PM candidate. The “caged parrot” seems to have changed its cage!
The evidence provided by the CBI in the first chargesheet, however, tells a different story. And the most clinching evidence is the statement under Section 161 of the CrPC by GL Singhal, a top police officer who was working under Vanzara, which pins down both the Gujarat CM and Amit Shah in no uncertain terms: “Later, on 14th afternoon at around 1500 hrs, when I was in my office at Gaikwad Haveli, I had received a call from Shri Vanzara. He had instructed me to meet him at Shahibaug office. Accordingly, I met him at Bungalow No. 15, Duffnala, Shahibaug with my Reader. He had showed me a complaint written in his own handwriting wherein some contents (names, number of rounds etc) were not written. It was pertaining to this case and the story of encounter… I had voiced my disagreement to Shri Vanzara on reading this draft complaint. My differences were basically on two points. One, the motive in the draft FIR mentioned a plan to kill the Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi; but this was wrong. Since I had interrogated Amjadali, I knew the motive was different. Two, I had serious objections to killing the girl, Ishrat. I had said we let her go, and had promised to ensure that she would not spill the beans about this operation to anyone. Despite my strong objections, Shri Vanzara insisted on keeping the motive involving the Chief Minister and on killing the girl and branding her later as a woman terrorist. He had told me that this was already discussed with kali dadhi and safed dadhi, and that they wanted it that way… I was not convinced and felt very uneasy about it, and had left the office.”
In the same statement, Singhal also stated that on the previous day, 13 June, he had gone to Vanzara’s chamber and heard the IB Joint Director Rajinder Kumar asking Vanzara to get instructions from the CM for the encounter. Singhal also heard Vanzara saying that he will speak to the safed and kali dadhis, referring to Modi and Shah, respectively. The relevant extract is indeed revealing: “At around 7 pm on 13.06.2004, I along with my Reader Shri DH Goswami had reached Bungalow No. 15 to meet Shri Vanzara in my official vehicle. When I and my Reader entered his chamber, Shri DG Vanzara was discussing with Shri Rajinder Kumar and Shri PP Pandey further plan in respect of the persons in custody: Jishan Johar, Amjadali, Javed and Ishrat. I state that the further plan of operation was about their elimination and lodging an FIR about an encounter… During this conversation, Shri Rajinder Kumar had specifically told Shri Vanzara to get instructions from the Chief Minister about the encounter story being planned, and Shri Vanzara had said he would do the needful by speaking to both safed and kali dadhis, the code names respectively that Shri Vanzara had for the Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the MoS (Home) Shri Amit Shah — and these codes were well known in the Crime Branch.”
Subsequently, Vanzara resigned last year while in jail, apparently miffed by the political leaders’ efforts to shift the blame for the fake encounters on the policemen. He wrote in his resignation letter that “I, therefore, would like to categorically state in the most unequivocal words that the officers and men of Crime Branch, ATS and Border Range, during the period of years between 2002 to 2007, simply acted and performed their duties in compliance of the conscious policy of this government.”
The evidence given by retired police officer DH Goswami under Section 164 of the CrPC exactly corroborates Singhal’s statement. Goswami stated that “I found that Shri Rajinder Kumar, Shri PP Pandey and Shri DG Vanzara were present there. These three seniors were discussing the details of the FIR of some encounter that they were planning and I remember Shri Rajinder Kumar telling Shri Vanzara to speak to the Chief Minister about it and Shri Vanzara saying he would talk to the ‘safed dadhi’ and the ‘kali dadhi’… Shri Singhal had disagreed on reading this draft complaint and I vaguely remember it had something to do with the motive in the draft and about the girl Ishrat. But Shri Vanzara was adamant and even said that he had approval of the Chief Minister and the MoS (Home).”
These three pieces of evidence are admissible in court, especially now that Singhal’s statement is a direct evidence. Besides these reliable oral evidence, the phone calls between Shah and Vanzara clinches the issue. The call records establish that Shah was in regular contact with Vanzara. The last four calls are very significant. Vanzara made a call to Shah at 10.57 pm on 14 June 2004, a few hours before the encounter was carried out in the early morning of 15 June. Shah called Vanzara at 6.10 am on 15 June and Vanzara called back at 7.09 am. This call had lasted 258 seconds. These calls were made from or received at Vanzara’s house in Gandhinagar. At 11.09 am, Vanzara received another call at his office.
Shah and now reportedly the CBI as well want people to believe that these calls were about a rath yatra that was scheduled for 19 June. Are the people so naïve that they would accept Shah’s lie that when four dangerous Lashkar-e- Toiba terrorists had been shot dead around 5 am on 15 June by Vanzara and his team, the then MoS (Home) would be talking about a rath yatra scheduled for four days later?
Shah should have checked his phone records for the next three days before making this statement. Vanzara’s call records placed in the chargesheet reveal that there was not a single call on 16, 17 and 18 June between him and Shah. If Shah was indeed speaking to Vanzara about the rath yatra, he would certainly have made several calls as the scheduled day approached. And Shah would have called the Ahmedabad police commissioner rather than an officer of the Crime Branch that was busy conducting the fake encounter, but he didn’t do that even once during this period. To believe Shah’s lie would make it seem as if he and Vanzara had completed the ‘bandobast’ of the rath yatra with the successful execution of the encounter on 15 June 2004!