Gujarat fake encounters: 3 out of 20 ‘encounters’ fake, Justice HS Bedi committee report

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The Hush Post| 10:27 am |one-minute-read

The Justice HS Bedi committee, which investigated many alleged fake encounters in Gujarat from 2002 to 2006, has recommended prosecution of police officials in three out of the 17 cases investigated.

In its final report filed in the Supreme Court, Justice Bedi has said three persons — Sameer Khan, Kasam Jafar and Haji Haji Ismail — were prime facie killed in fake encounters.

Therefore the HS Bedi committee has indicted nine police officials. Among those indicted include three inspector rank officials. However, it has not recommended prosecution of any IPS officer.

The court had appointed Justice Bedi, the former Supreme Court judge, as chairman of the monitoring committee which had to probe 17 encounter cases.

Earlier, on January 9, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had rejected the Gujarat government’s plea to maintain confidentiality of the final report of committee. On the contrary, it ordered that it should also be handed over to petitioners, including Bollywood lyricist Javed Akhtar.

Regarding the case of Sameer Khan, the committee has recommended prosecution of KM Vaghela and TA Barot for the offence of murder and other offences.

According to the police, Sameer Khan along with his cousin had allegedly stabbed a cop, who had died on the spot in May 1996. While his cousin was arrested, he had made a vanishing.

The police had alleged that later he went to Pakistan and had himself trained with terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). Later, he entered India via Nepal. The report noted that as per police, after the 2002 Akshardham Mandir attack, Sameer Khan was directed by a Pakistan-based JeM operative to go to Ahmedabad and kill the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

It noted that Sameer Khan was arrested by the Crime Branch in a case related to waging war against the country and when he was taken at the spot where the constable was stabbed in 1996, he snatched the loaded revolver of inspector Vaghela and fired at him and ran away.

As per police, the other two inspectors — Tarun Barot and A A Chauhan not any more now — fired at him and he was later taken to a hospital but was declared dead.

However, the panel has found that he was killed in a fake encounter by the police.

Referring to the medical and other reports, the committee has said, “It is, therefore, obvious that the police officers were close and towering over the deceased and he was probably sitting on the ground and perhaps cringing for his life.”

“I am, therefore, of the opinion that inspector K M Vaghela and inspector T A Barot at the first instance be prosecuted for murder and other relevant offences and if it is found during the trial that there is evidence against others as well, they too should be brought in as per law,” the panel has said.

It said since inspector Chauhan was no more, no proceeding against him was possible.

Besides, the panel has also granted Rs. 10 lakh compensation to Sameer Khan’s family.

In Kasam Jafar’s case, the police had alleged that he was picked along with 17 other persons from a hotel in Ahmedabad on April 13, 2006.

As per the police’s account, he was being taken to a police station and during the transit, he made his escape. A day later, his body was recovered underneath a bridge.

“The effort of the police officers to dub the deceased and his companions as criminals has also not been successful as no evidence whatsover has been produced to show that they had been involved in any crime. The very detention on the April 13, 2006, from Royal Hotel was thus not justified,” Justice Bedi said in his report.

He concluded that sub-inspector J M Bharwad and constable Ganeshbhai were prima facie involved in the killing and they were needed to be prosecuted for the offence of murder.

The committee, by its order on November 21, 2013, had also awarded Rs. 14 lakhs as compensation to the widow and children of the deceased.

Similarly, the committee noted in its report that as per police, on October 9, 2005, they received a tip-off that notorious smuggler Haji Haji Ismail would be going to a place in his Maruti Zen car.

Ismail came out of his car, fired at the police party which retaliated in defence and fired 20 shots at him. This led to his death.

The panel made a note of his autopsy report. It said that out of the six wounds of entry, five had blackening round them and it meant that these shots were fired from a very close range.

The panel contradicted the claim made that the fire exchanges between Ismail and police party had taken place from a close distance. “It is, therefore, crystal clear that firing on the deceased was from a distance of two feet or less completely falsifying the police version and being suggestive of a custodial killing,” the panel concluded.

The panel has recommended prosecution of five policemen in this case. These cases are inspector K G Erda and sub-inspectors L B Monpara, J M Yadav, S K Shah and Prag P Vyas.

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