ALAPPUZHA: Gopinatha Pillai, 77, a petitioner in the Gujarat fake encounter case that killed his son Pranesh Kumar alias Javed Sheikh, Ishrat Jahan and two others in 2004, died in a road accident at Vayalar near Cherthala on National Highway 66, near here, on Friday.
Pattanakkad police said the accident occurred on Wednesday when a lorry rammed into the rear end of the car in which Gopinathan and others were travelling at Vayalar junction near Cherthala here. He was admitted to a private hospital in Kochi where he breathed his last on Friday, police said.
"The Maruthi car in which Pillai was travelling applied sudden break and a lorry hit the car from behind. He suffered injuries and was shifted to a hospital in Kochi. He died on Friday morning," said Sub Inspector B Shajimon.
Though there are speculations on the nature of the accident, SI Shajimon ruled out the possibilities of "targetted killing" of Pillai through the accident. However, the police have registered a case and investigation is going on, said the SI.
The Ishrat Jahan encounter case was registered in Gujarat initially accused officers of the Ahmedabad Police Crime Branch and members of the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB) jointly having carried out a staged encounter killing by shooting four people on 15 June 2004. The persons killed in the incident were Ishrat Jahan Raza, a 19-year-old woman from Mumbra in Maharashtra and three men – Javed Ghulam Sheikh (born Pranesh Kumar Pillai), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar.
The police claimed that Ishrat Jahan and her associates were Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives were involved in a terroristic plot to assassinate the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The Special Investigation Team found that it a fake one and charged with many officers in the force for encounter murder. The CBI which later investigated on the case were also charged with many police officers of Gujarat and some political leaders.
A special CBI court discharged former Gujarat Police officer P P Pandey in the case in last February. Gopinatha Pillai filed cases regarding the murder in Gujarat court to prove his son’s innocence. He had visited Gujarat for giving evidence many times.
Kerala native Pranesh Kumar married a Muslim women Sajida from Mumbai in 1991 after converting to Islam. He also has two children and they often visited Gopinath Pillai at Thamarakulam, Alappuzha.