Maharashtra top cop takes over Gujarat encounter probe

AHMEDABAD — After much dilly-dallying, senior Maharashtra cadre IPS officer Satyapal Singh on Saturday took over the investigation of the Ishrat Jahan encounter case in which a 19-year-old Mumbai college girl and three others were gunned down in an alleged police encounter on the outskirts of the city on June 15, 2004.

By Mahesh Trivedi

Published: Sun 19 Jun 2011, 10:45 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 10:35 PM

Singh, a 1980 batch officer currently posted as Additional DGP (law and order) in Mumbai, arrived here in the morning and took charge of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) at its office in Gandhinagar, 30 km from here.

Singh will head the SIT as its chairman and investigate the sensational case along with Satish Verma and Mohan Jha, both of whom are Gujarat-cadre IPS officers.

Gujarat High Court’s division bench of Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari had appointed Singh as the head of SIT on May 12. But Singh had requested the court to relieve him of the responsibility of heading the team, citing many reasons.

In a letter to the High Court, Singh is believed to have said that the Maharashtra government was reluctant to relieve him and also that he had some personal reasons for not wanting to take up the job.

Again, Singh is not familiar with the local language and as one of the police officers associated with the encounter (ADGP P P Pande) was his batchmate, Singh was reluctant to head the probe..

The High Court appointed Singh after the earlier SIT chairman Karnail Singh expressed desire to be let off following his posting to Mizoram. After the encounter, the police had claimed that they four shot dead were Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists who had come to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

But last year, the High Court set up the SIT in response to a petition filed by Ishrat’s mother to probe the genuineness of the encounter.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for June 24.

The state government had pleaded for the probe to be handed over to a Special Task Force (STF) constituted by it but the court expressed displeasure over the plea and turned it down.

In another development, Raju Ramachandran, amicus curiae (friend of the court) of the Supreme Court for the 2002 riots, also arrived in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

The Senior Supreme Court advocate is in Gujarat for the first time after the apex court directed him to ‘independently’ consider whether there is evidence against Modi and others in the Gulberg Society massacre case during the 2002 communal riots. Sources said Ramachandran had a two-hour secret meeting with IPS officer Sanjiv

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