Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case: Gujarat's ex-DGP PP Pandey discharged
Special CBI judge JK Pandya discharged former Gujarat DGP PP Pandey in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. He was charged along with other former police officers with conspiracy, illegal confinement and murder by the CBI. The 1980-batch IPS Pandey is the first accused to be discharged from the trial. What was the fake encounter? Here's more about the case.
What was the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case?
In 2004, crime branch officials gunned down the 19-year-old Ishrat along with her friend Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, and two Pakistan nationals Jishan Johar and Amjad Rana. The Ahmedabad city Crime Branch claimed that they had received intelligence that the four were linked to Pakistan terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and were apparently planning a suicide attack on the then-Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.
Who all were named in the CBI charge-sheet?
In the first CBI charge-sheet in 2013, seven Gujarat police officers, including IPS officers Pandey, DG Vanzara and GL Singhal were named. They were charged with kidnapping, murder and conspiracy. Subsequently, Pandey was arrested and he remained in prison for 16 months before getting out on bail. However, despite being charge-sheeted, in 2016, he returned to the state's police force as DGP.
Now, why has the court discharged Pandey?
Now, court claimed that there is no evidence against Pandey related to kidnapping and murder and none of the witnesses also accused him of that. Further, witnesses' evidences were contradictory as they gave different accounts to different investigating agencies. CBI opposed the discharge. It said there were eye-witnesses corroborating Pandey's role and how he met Jahan and Sheikh, who were in custody.
So, is the Ishrat-case going the Sohrabuddin Sheikh way?
In another high-profile case in Gujarat, Sohrabuddin Sheikh's fake-encounter, 15 accused have been discharged so far. This was after a number of witnesses turned hostile. Those discharged include BJP president Amit Shah and Vanzara. So, does Pandey's discharge signal a similar fate for this case?