Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ishrat case: Rajiv Ranjan Verma takes charge of SIT

The investigation into the Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case is expected to come back on course under the Special Investigation Team's new chairman Rajiv Ranjan Verma, who took charge on Thursday.

Mr. Verma, a Bihar cadre IPS officer, presently the Additional Director of the Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF), arrived here on Thursday and took over the investigation with two Gujarat cadre IPS officers, Satish Verma and Mohan Jha, assisting him.

After three IPS officers, earlier appointed as the SIT chairmen by the High Court at the recommendations of the Central government, had refused to take charge, excusing themselves on various grounds, the investigation had faced various bottlenecks. But with Mr. Verma, who was appointed the chairman last week, finally taking over the charge, the SIT is now expected to resume the investigation from where the first chairman, Karnail Singh, a Delhi cadre IPS officer, left off upon being transferred to Mizoram earlier this year.

In a brief chat with media persons, Mr. Verma said the investigation would now begin in full swing. He, however, said the “direction” of the investigation would be decided only after he thoroughly studied the case and went deep into the investigations progressed so far.

The Mumbai-based college girl, Ishrat Jahan, and three others, including Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, were killed in an “encounter” by the Gujarat Crime Branch police on the outskirts of the city in June, 2004. The SIT was constituted by the High Court on petitions filed by Ishrat's mother Shamima Banu, and Pranesh's father Gopinath Pillai.

While the Gujarat police had claimed that Ishrat and her companions were Lashkar-e-Taiba activists on a mission to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Satish Verma, after preliminary investigations into the case, had told the High Court that the “encounter seemed to be a fake one.”

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