In a big relief to Amit Shah, the CBI on Wednesday gave a clean chit to Narendra Modi’s close aide and Gujarat’s former home minister Amit Shah in the alleged fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan and three others in 2004.
“There is no sufficient evidence against Amit Shah. Hence, the CBI has not chargesheeted him,” CBI inspector Vishwas Kumar Meena said in an affidavit filed before the special CBI court.
The CBI had filed two chargesheets in the case after recording the statements of over 170 witnesses. In February this year, the agency had charged former IB special director Rajinder Kumar along with three other Intelligence officers, but did not name Shah.
The premier investigating agency also sought dismissal of the plea by Gopinath Pillai, father of Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, who was among those killed with Ishrat, to arraign Shah in the case. “Some of the police officers’ statements in the case indicating the role of Amit Shah and Modi are merely ‘hearsay’ and there is no concrete evidence to back the claim,” the affidavit said.
Pillai had cited the resignation letter of suspended IPS officer D G Vanzara, an accused in the case, in support of his petition. Vanzara, once considered close to Modi, had in September last year announced his resignation from the IPS, accusing the state government of not protecting police officers jailed in connection with alleged staged encounter cases.
“The material can be revived if there is fresh evidence in the case. However, it will be court’s call whether or not to arraign Amit Shah as an accused based on the collected material by the agency.
“The agency has placed the evidence collected in the case before the court. Now it is for the honourable court to decide,” a CBI spokesperson said.
Suspected Lashkar terrorists Ishrat Jahan, Amjad Ali Khan, Javed Sheikh and Zeeshan Johar were killed by the Gujarat police in a fake encounter on June 15, 2004. The police had claimed all four were members of the banned Pakistan-based LeT and were plotting to eliminate top BJP leaders, including Chief Minister Modi.
However, in its first chargesheet filed on July 3, 2013, the agency had said that the encounter was not genuine and it was a joint operation of the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau, Ahmadabadm, and the Gujarat Police.
The CBI’s latest move provided ammunition to the BJP, which trained its gun on the Congress for scripting a “political conspiracy”.
“The CBI clean chit to Amit Shah will be seen as satyamev jayate (truth prevails). The Congress scripted a political conspiracy,” BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
Several allegedly fake encounters of claimed terrorists, including those of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his associate Tulsiram Prajapati, had taken place when Shah was MoS for Home. Shah, an accused in both cases, is presently out on bail.
In his resignation letter, Vanzara had targeted Shah, whom he described as an “evil” influence on Modi.
The CBI, in its affidavit on Wednesday, said, “The said resignation letter contains general allegations and not providing any concrete information about the role of Shah in this offence. After receiving the letter, CBI examined Vanzara in jail. However, he has not disclosed any further details during his examinations.” The state BJP unit said “anti-Gujarat elements” have failed.
“The conspiracy of ‘anti-Gujarat’ elements has failed with this reply,” Gujarat BJP spokesperson Harshad Patel said.
“After the investigation was handed over from the SIT to CBI, the Congress leaders and some of Union Ministers have tried to
drag Amit Shah’s name in the encounter case,” Patel said. “Attempts were made to defame and to implicate the Gujarat government, its functionaries and the legal experts of the state in the fake encounter case. They also tried to make former Commissioner of Police K R Kaushik an accused,” the state BJP spokesperson said.