Monday, January 3, 2011

Ishrat case: Critical records missing

Ahmedabad: Critical records concerning the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case have gone missing from the city police commissionerate. No, this is no case of theft. The city police authorities just chose to destroy the records of the city police control room that date back to 2004, when the encounter took place.

On June 15, 2004, Ishrat along with her friend Javed Pillai and two others were gunned down in their car near the Kotarpur water works in the city’s outskirts. According to the FIR filed in this regard, the two remaining were terrorists from Pakistan while Ishrat and Javed were part of a Lashkar-e-Taiba plot to kill VVIPs and top politicians in Gujarat. Police officials had claimed that a central intelligence agency input had triggered the operation in which the terrorists were trapped and killed in an encounter.

Special investigation team (SIT) officials, who have been appointed by the Gujarat high court to probe the encounter, are trying to piece together the exact sequence of events. According to the police story — the four were chased from the Narol circle towards Kotarpur water works early in the morning where they were gunned down by two crime branch teams.

The SIT investigators recently asked the city police control room officials about when the operation was reported and how many times had the crime branch

teams interacted with the control room when the encounter took place.

“It is necessary to know the exact sequence of events. On the same night, both ACP and DCP of that zone were on night duty but they were not told about the incident by the control room. Both senior officers had filed ‘all okay’ report to the city police control room later in the morning. That means they knew nothing about the encounter,” said SIT officials.

Wilful destruction?

SIT officials believe that it is more than just routine clearance of old files. “It seems files concerning some important dates and incidents were systematically erased. Records for the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter which took place in November 2005, too have been destroyed in a similar manner. We asked the police control room officials to check and realised that there could be more to the story,” said SIT official. When SIT sought the city control room’s night message book for June 15, they returned empty handed. “We were told that all files concerning 2004 were destroyed.”

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