The Central Bureau of Investigation filed its first chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan encounter and the salient point that the agency made was the encounter was staged or fake.
The CBI says that it would file an additional chargesheet in a month’s time bringing out more names of persons involved in the encounter, but it may remain silent on a key factor and that is whether Ishrat and her three other accomplices were Lashkar-e-Tayiba operatives or not. Although the CBI does state that it would go into this aspect as well, it appears unlikely that it would do so, since it does not have that brief from the Gujarat High Court. The court has directed it only to deal with the encounter part of the case and had even stated that whether they were terrorists or not is not the issue in this case. The case should focus on whether the encounter was fake or not.
The other crucial aspect to the chargesheet that is missing is the motive behind such an encounter which the CBI today says is fake. Although this also may not be a point that would come up, sources tell rediff.com that it had become a case of over enthusiasm by the Gujarat police. Several years back, the Gujarat police had started to play a very pro active role in dealing with the issue of terrorism. Very often the administration of the state had accused the Congress ruled states of not acting against terror and also soft peddling on the issue. The Gujarat police were seen in literally every part of the country probing or helping probe cases pertaining to terrorism. The classic case was in Andhra Pradesh where it assisted the police of that state crack down on some local elements. The Haren Pandya murder investigation and also the Sohrabbudin encounter were cases with a Gujarat angle to it. These sort of incidents even led to several locals in Hyderabad saying, “ Gujarat police is the Andhra Pradesh police.”
The Gujarat state administration was very clear that it would not tolerate any incident of terror or any such activities. There was a lot of support that was given to the police in dealing with such incidents. Some officers were a bit too enthusiastic in pleasing the administration and getting more hits and this led to operations which were not carried out as they ought to have been done. This is what could have happened in the Ishrat Jahan case as well, CBI sources point out.
Former Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, C D Sahay explains that the CBI would not go into the Lashkar angle to the case. This is only because they have no such directive from the High Court. Sahay however while explaining the manner in which encounters ought to be carried out says that we follow the British system and in many cases, it appears as though police officials have gone the FBI way which is clear- shoot and then talk.
There is a procedure involved. First a trap needs to be laid and then the target neutralised. Officers need to identify the accused first, give an opportunity to speak¸ seek an identification and in case guns are drawn then they have the permission to shoot. It is a different matter in Jammu and Kashmir where the army or police deals with Pakistan nationals. That is more of a war zone and there such a procedure cannot be followed as those persons are sent into kill.
Moreover in cases which are sought to be operationalised based on an Intel alert, Sahay says that there needs to be a lot of consultation with the intelligence generating agencies and they need to work in coordination.