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Central & South Asia

Former Gujarat spy chief charged with murder

Ex-spy chief accused of helping police to stage fake encounter in which 19-year-old college student was killed.

Last updated: 07 Feb 2014 09:58
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Ishrat Jahan's mother Shamima Kauser (L-front) and sister Nusrat (2-L) have always insisted she was innocent [EPA]

Former Gujarat Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Rajinder Kumar has been charged with the murder of a young college student and three serving officers accused of conspiracy in staging the police encounter in which she was killed.

Ishrat Jahan, 19, was killed by the police in an alleged fake encounter about 10 years ago.

Media reports said India's premier investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), had also accused Kumar and the three serving IB officers - P Mittal, MK Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede - of conspiracy and illegal confinement.

The CBI has alleged that Kumar provided the weapons used by the Gujarat cops to kill Ishrat and three others and an AK-56 that, the agency alleges, was planted at the scene of the shooting to portray the victims as terrorists.

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Ishrat Jahan was killed along with three men on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on 15 June, 2004, by Gujarat crime branch officers who claimed they had been told by the IB that the four were terrorists who planned to assassinate Narendra Modi, the state's chief minister who is now running for prime minister.

But nowhere does the 200-odd page charge-sheet mention a motive for the alleged involvement of these officers, a fact that is expected to exacerbate friction between the IB and the CBI.

The Intelligence Bureau has said that though its officers had alerted the Gujarat police to the possibility that Ishrat and the others could be affiliated to the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, its officers did not authorise or participate in the killing.

The IB had vehemently objected to Kumar's interrogation by the CBI in the case last year, arguing that it would affect the morale down the ranks of the IB and also that it would set a dangerous precedent because its members often work undercover and have sources that would dry up if its officers were entangled in police cases. The home ministry had backed the IB.

In its first charge-sheet in July last year, the CBI accused seven senior policemen of murdering Ishrat and the others "in cold blood". Amid the tension with the IB, it did not name Kumar, who was then serving. He retired about a month later.

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