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There was illustrative evidence to ‘suspect beyond reasonable doubt’ that the killing of Mumbai college girl Ishrat Jahan and three of her companions in 2004 was done in a staged shootout, a member of the Gujarat High Court-appointed SIT member told the court Friday.

‘There are scientific and circumstantial evidence against the version provided in the First Information Report of the staged shootout case and there was some evidence, though not conclusive and final, but good enough to suspect beyond reasonable doubt that it could be a fake encounter,’ Deputy Inspector General Police Satish Verma said in his affidavit.

Verma said that the statements of a head constable, Moti Desai, read together with Raju Jirawala, owner of Arham Farm house and his watchman Raman, show that one of the two alleged Pakistani nationals killed in this case were kept in captivity at Arham Farm for about five days prior to the staged shootout. He further stated that the weekly diaries of police Inspector J.G. Parmar and other officers also appeared to be in conformity with the disclosures made by Desai.

Ishrat Jahan and three of her companions were killed by a Gujarat Police team in a shootout June 15, 2004, who termed them as members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist outfit on a mission to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Verma stated that the post-mortem examination shows that the paths of many bullets inside the bodies of the deceased persons are not consistent with the FIR version. He claimed that one bullet of 9 mm caliber recovered from the body of the deceased, Amjad Ali Rana, does not match with any police weapon allegedly used during the incident. He further claimed that twisted parts of bullets recovered from Ishrat Jahan’s body also do not match with any of the police weapons allegedly used then. He further claimed that the FIR itself suffered from lacunae.

The affidavit pointed out that though the FIR mentioned an intelligence input received by the commissioner of police of the city, there was no record of any intelligence received by him. ‘None of the nakabandi officers (manning the checkpoint) as per the FIR attempted to stop the car of the deceased persons. Not even a signal to stop them was given, …’ he stated in the affidavit.

Verma further claimed that no alert was given to adjoining Gandhinagar district or to the concerned police stations of Ahmedabad. ‘No message on wireless was given, which is extraordinary. Even though the alleged terrorists could have entered the city from Narol crossing, no nakabandi points were deployed inside the city. And it was almost assumed that the vehicle would either turn left or right,’ he said while showing the lacunae in the version of FIR against the evidence gathered.

Describing the legal issues the SIT was facing, Verma raised a question whether restrictions can be imposed on investigative power and duty of an officer of the SIT by other officers? He said that the difference of opinions would not arise if the members believed in idea of ‘union’ and not ‘intersection’ of experiences, abilities, knowledge, skills and resources of them.

He further raised an issue of lodging a fresh FIR in the case for investigating the case better. He also questioned whether a member of SIT can seek appointment of amicus curiae. He said the SIT was a party to the proceedings and amicus curiae cannot advise the SIT on legal matters for the said reason.

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