It is not just the BJP that, for obvious reasons, wants to soft-pedal investigations into the extra-judicial killings in the Ishrat Jahan case. Astonishingly, the New Delhi dispensation too, has been dawdling on the matter. Some of its actions are taking the edge off the ongoing CBI investigations.
In late April, additional DGP and senior Gujarat IPS officer P P Pandey, an accused in the case, was interrogated at his residence for two-and-a-half hours after which he broke down, fearing arrest.
“And there was no reason for us not to do so (arrest him),” said an officer associated with the investigation. But a message from the capital insisted that Pandey should not be arrested; that he should be interrogated some other day, and that the interrogation just done would be considered “off the record and not official.”
By the time the CBI sought out Pandey in the second week of May, the officer had disappeared. What the logic was being deferring Pandey’s arrest is puzzling, said a senior officer associated with the investigations.
Pandey was also reportedly spotted in New Delhi with a Congress minister at least twice, even after the CBI had issued an arrest warrant and pleaded that he be declared an absconder. The minister even requested another senior colleague to help out Pandey. Pandey was declared an absconder in the case by a special CBI court.
In the case of Intelligence Bureau super cop Rajinder Kumar, the CBI says it has adequate evidence to immediately arrest him. Kumar allegedly provided false intelligence inputs to Gujarat police and facilitated the killings. But RK, as he is known, is not being arrested; the CBI says the “green signal is yet to come.”
Kumar of course has someone to defend him within his own organisation. IB Director Asif Ibrahim has accused the CBI of gunning for Kumar.
A Tehelka expose says the CBI will testify before a trial judge in Ahmedabad that one of the accused officers has, in a sworn testimony, identified Rajendra Kumar as a mastermind of the encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others in June 2004.
The agency, on directions from the Gujarat High Court, is expected to file its chargesheet before the trial court on July 4.
The report also says another officer has testified that Kumar met the 19-year old Ishrat while she was in illegal police custody. And that yet another testimony with the CBI implicates Amit Shah, who was a junior home minister in Gujarat at the time of the killings.
It was the claim of the accused that they had intelligence inputs that the four who were killed were terrorists setting out to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Why is Kumar being sheltered, and why are officers who are pursuing the Ishrat case diligently being side-lined or described as over zealous? There are several unanswered questions in the dark Ishrat Jahan case.
Independent sources confirmed to Mirror that the CBI is deliberately going slow on Kumar. And this, it seems, is at the behest of a powerful Congress lobby whose intentions are unclear.
Sources claim that Kumar has been shooting veiled threats at Congressmen. He has warned “to expose over a dozen senior Congressmen and obligations he has discharged for the UPA government” if he is “touched” by the CBI.
No Congress leader was willing to come on record to discuss the issue. Those spoken to dismissed allegations that they were shielding Kumar as baseless and “planted by the BJP”.