Vanzara, Pandey get bail in Ishrat Jahan encounter case

Ahmedabad: In a breather to controversial Gujarat IPS officers D G Vanzara and P P Pandey, a special court today granted them conditional bail in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter killing case observing prosecuting agency CBI has not denied IB's version that Ishrat and others had terror links.

Ishrat Jahan
Ishrat Jahan
 
Special CBI judge K R Upadhyaya allowed the bail applications of Pandey, an officer of Additional Director General of Police rank who has since been suspended, and Vanzara, after placing stringent conditions for their release.

In two separate orders granting conditional bail to the officers, the court observed that "Intelligence Bureau (IB) had in its affidavit last year before the Supreme Court stated that the four persons (killed in the encounter) had nexus with terror groups, which was not denied by the CBI."

There were 14 persons involved in the encounter, but the charge sheet had named only seven persons, the court said finding faults with the charge sheet filed by CBI in the encounter case.

The court also considered that Vanzara has been in jail for almost eight years and the trial will go on for a long time. It observed that Vanzara had not tried to tamper with the evidence or influence witnesses in the case so far. CBI in its charge sheet had said the encounter was a joint operation between Gujarat Police and Intelligence Bureau.  

"Application (for bail) is allowed," the court said while rejecting the objections of the prosecution which contended that the release of Vanzara, whose stint as the chief of city crime branch and Gujarat ATS had seen a sudden spurt in extra-judicial killings, could be an "open challenge" to the civil society.

The officer, who retired under suspension while in jail in connection with the Sohrabuddin Shaikh, Tulsiram Prajapati and Ishrat Jahan fake encounter killing cases, has been barred from entering Gujarat but ordered to mark his presence before the court every working Saturday. He has also been prohibited from leaving the country.

While Pandey walked out of the Sabarmati jail in the afternoon after spending 18 months behind bars, Vanzara, who has been in jail for last eight years, will be able to so so only after completing a legal formality concerning a Mumbai CBI court, which may take a few days.  

Vanzara, arrested in connection with the Sohrabuddin case on April 24, 2007, is directed to present a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh while Pandey, arrested in June 2013, has been asked to surrender his passport and present a personal bond of Rs one lakh.

Pandey was a Joint Commissioner of Police and Vanzara the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in the city crime branch, when Ishrat, a 19-year-old college student from Mumbra near Mumbai, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an encounter with Gujarat police on the outskirts of the city on June 15, 2004.

Gujarat Police had then claimed the deceased were members of Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba and were on a mission to assassinate the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. According to the CBI charge sheet, the encounter was set up by the Gujarat Police and the Intelligence Bureau.

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