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Rana Ayyub’s new book validates, ” CBI’s Evidence” in Gujarat Fake Encounters

Independent journalist Rana Ayyub’s new book on Gujarat fake encounters once again validates the CBI’s evidence against cops linked to the shootings, including the operation in which Mumbra’s Ishrat Jahan was killed, noted lawyer Indira Jaisingh said on Friday. 

Jaisingh, who was the CBI’s counsel in the cases from 2009 to 2014, said the agency had gathered strong evidence, including phone records, against many Gujarat police officers involved in the encounters of Jahan, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsi Prajapati. Some of the cops were let off, while others are currently out on bail.

Jaisingh made the comments at the launch of Ayyub’s book, Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up, in a small but packed basement hall of Delhi’s India Habitat Centre on Friday. Five publications had reportedly rejected the book, which also touches on the events of the 2002 Gujarat riots, prompting Ayyub to self-publish it four days ago.

There was considerable excitement at the launch on Friday; every available space in the basement hall was occupied by audience members. The crowd included prominent political and media figures such as former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan; TV journalist Rajdeep Sarsesai; and Caravan magazine’s political editor Hartosh Singh Bal.

Ayyub’s book is based on an undercover sting operation she had conducted when she worked with Tehelka magazine and when Narendra Modi was the Gujarat chief minister. It contains transcripts of conversations between Ayyub, who posed as Indian-American filmmaker Maithali Tyagi, and several senior officials in Gujarat.

The book talks about actions of former Gujarat minister Amit Shah at the time of the fake encounters. A CBI court in Mumbai had cleared Shah, now the national BJP president, of all charges linked to the shootings in December 2014.

Ayyub said apart from publications, she had also approached television channels to the air sting tapes. But none of the networks agreed, she claimed. The book is still not widely available in stores.

“I hope that investigation agencies will take note of the evidence I have. I am open to presenting the tapes to the Special Investigation Team,” she said at the launch in Delhi’s cultural nerve centre.

Ayyub did not play any tapes at the event, but indicated she might put them in the public domain.

Overwhelmed by emotions, she choked at times as she read out passages from the book. She recalled how she became close to many of the officials whose conversations were secretly recorded as part of the sting operation. “Maya Kodnani [former Gujarat minister] used to oil my hair, PP Pandey [senior IPS officer] would serve dinner to me. Someone’s wife tried to look for a suitable boy for me,” Ayyub said. “I operated incognito while carrying out the sting, with minimal contact with my family.”

The investigative journalist claimed she had Modi on tape. Jaising said the book independently confirms the CBI’s findings in the fake encounter cases. “I was given strong evidence, including phone records, address of the person who sold wood that was used to cremate Kausar Bi [Sohrabuddin’s wife], and address of the farmhouses where she and Sohrabuddin were kept,” Jaising said.

Kausar Bi was also allegedly killed as part of the fake encounter conspiracy.

Jaising also raised questions over Shah’s discharge in the case. “The first judge on the case was transferred, the second judge died mysteriously and his wife has also filed a complaint alleging foul play. The third judge, a Marathi-speaking man who generally didn’t write very good English, surprisingly wrote the discharge order in chaste English,” Jaising said at the launch.

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