Sunday, June 12, 2011

Maha govt refuses to spare Satyapal Singh for Ishrat SIT

AHMEDABAD: Hurdles in Ishrat Jahan encounter probe do not seem to end, as the Maharashtra government has told the Centre that it could not spare ADGP Dr Satyapal Singh to head the special investigation team (SIT) to follow the Gujarat high court's order.

Maharashtra's chief of law and order was suggested by the Centre to the high court on May 12 after the first chairman of the investigation team Karnail Singh sought withdrawal on the ground that Mizoram, where he was transferred lately, was not ready to spare him for the probe.

In refusing to spare Satyapal Singh, additional chief secretary of Maharashtra, UC Sarangi sent a letter on June 6 to Centre's home secretary, G K Pillai, informing that the cop has a "critical role to play" in the state because there are elections in various local bodies scheduled this year. Moreover, there are highly sensitive ongoing issues of farmers' agitation against various power plants.

The Maharashtra government has cited intelligence inputs regarding terror attacks and vulnerable coastline of 720 kilometres, for which Singh is responsible for security.

"The services of Dr Singh cannot be spared at this juncture without jeopardizing law and order and public welfare in the state," the letter to the Centre reads.

Most importantly, the Maharashtra government has also maintained that the Centre did not even inform the state government before suggesting Singh's name as SIT's chairman before the high court.

The Centre has been requested to allow the Maharashtra government to move the high court to appoint some other officer in Singh's place.

The bench of justice Jayant Patel and justice Abhilasha Kumari is scheduled to hear the case further on June 24.

Four persons, including the Mumbai woman, were killed in a shoot-out near Kotarpur on June 15, 2004.

After the encounter, the city crime branch claimed that the deceased were Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives out to kill chief minister Narendra Modi to avenge the 2002 riots.

However, the crime branch's claims have been negated by an inquiry by judicial magistrate S P Tamang in 2009 and the member of recent SIT, Satish Verma, who too is facing departmental action in the RDX landing case probe allegedly for his aggressive investigation in this case.

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