Ishrat Jahan Encounter Case: Ex-Gujarat DGP PP Pandey Discharged
A special CBI court on Wednesday, 21 February, discharged former Gujarat DGP PP Pandey in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case.
Pandey was heading the state crime branch when Ishrat, a 19-year-old girl based in Mumbra near Mumbai, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, were killed in an alleged encounter with the police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on 15 June 2004.
The Gujarat police had claimed that Ishrat and the others had links with Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and had plotted to kill then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
In the first week of February this year, a special CBI court concluded the hearing on a discharge application filed by Pandey, who had contended that the statements of two witnesses against him were contradictory and that none of the other 105 witnesses examined by the court had named him.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had named him as an accused in its chargesheet, without obtaining the mandatory sanction from the Centre, Pandey’s lawyer told the court. The CBI had opposed his discharge plea, saying it had enough evidence to prove that he was part of the conspiracy to carry out the alleged fake encounter.
Ishrat Jahan’s mother Shamima Kauser and Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai’s father Gopinath Pillai were made respondents by the court in the matter on their request. Both opposed Pandey’s application, saying if he was discharged, it would obstruct the investigation.
After being released on bail, Pandey was taken back into service in February 2015 and appointed the Director of the state’s Anti Corruption Bureau. On 16 April last year, Pandey was appointed the in-charge DGP of Gujarat. He resigned later that month after his appointment was challenged in the Supreme Court.(Agencies)