Ishrat Jahan was not a terrorist, false story was created that she came to kill Modi: Former Gujarat ATS chief


(Following are excerpts from Rana Ayyub’s book, Gujarat Files, Anatomy Of A Cover Up)

That day when I met (Rajan) Priyadarshi (former Gujarat ATS chief), he had sifted through copies of the newspaper he had published.

‘You can take whatever you want from these. I think you have all the information about me now. When do you start shooting?’

He was anxious, his body language made that clear. He had divulged a bit too much for his own good. Details of the time when he was posted as the State ATS head, of his clandestine meetings with the then Home Minister Amit Shah late at night at his bungalow and who once asked him to kill an accused in custody. Every time I met Rajan Priyadarshi, I felt I came back with more.

Cover of Rana Ayyub’s book

Q) Your CM Narendra Modi is very popular here, in Gujarat?
A) Yes, he fools everybody and people get fooled.

Q) In that case, as additional DG, you would have had a tough time working under them?
A) They never had the guts to force me to do anything illegal.

Q) Lawlessness is rampant here no? Hardly any officers who are upright?
A) There are very few of them. This man Narendra Modi has been responsible for the killing of Muslims across [the state].

Q) Achcha, I hear that the cops also toed the line of the government?
A) All of them, like this P.C.Pande, it all happened in their presence.

Q) Most of the officers say that they have been implicated wrongly?
A) What wrongly, they have done it which is why they are now going behind bars. They killed a young girl in an encounter.

Q) Really?
A) Haan, they called her a Lashkar terrorist. She was from Mumbra. The story created was she was a terrorist, who had come to Gujarat to kill Modi.

Q) And it’s false?
A) Yes, it’s false.

Q) And ever since I got here, everybody is talking of the Sohrabuddin encounter?
A) The entire country is talking of that encounter. They bumped off that Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati at the behest of the minister.
This minister Amit Shah, he never used to believe in human rights. He used to tell us that I don’t believe in these human rights commissions. And now look at this, the courts have given him bail too.

Q) So, you never served under him?
A) I did, when I was the ATS chief. He transferred Vanzara and brought me [in]. And I am a person who believes in human rights. So this Shah calls me to his bungalow. Now I have never gone to anybody’s bungalow. Nor anybody’s residence or office. So I told him, Sir I haven’t seen your bungalow and he was baffled and asked, why haven’t you seen my bungalow. Then he said, Ok I will send you my private vehicle, come in that.

So I said, Ok, you send me your vehicle. So when I reach he says. ‘Achcha aapne ek bande ko arrest kiya hai na, jo abhi aaya hai ATS mein, usko maar daalne ka hai.’ I didn’t react. And then he said, ‘dekho maar daalo, aise aadmi ko jeene ka koi haq nahi hai.’
So I immediately came to my office and called a meeting of my juniors.

I feared that Amit Shah would give them direct orders and get him killed. So I told them, see I have been given orders to kill him, but nobody is going to touch him, just interrogate him. I have been told, I am not doing it so you also are not supposed to do it.

Q) That was some bravado!
A) This Narendra Modi called me the day I was retiring. And then he said, ‘So what are you planning to do now’ and all those kind of questions. So I told him how I was stifled. Then he said, ‘Achcha ye bataao, sarkaar ke khilaaf kaun kaun log hai, matlab kitne
afsar sarkaar ke khilaaf hai.’
Then I asked Modi, ‘Am I allowed to ask you something?’ So he said, ‘Ask.’

I asked, ‘In the last two decades I have served in various capacities, did you hear of anything against me?’ He replied saying I had been doing great work. Then I told him, ‘Sir, in that case for the last 4 years, my ACRs have been termed as Excellent and Outstanding by my immediate seniors and Home Secretaries, then why did you downgrade them? Why was my performance downgraded by you?’

I told him that I got all the information through RTI. He was stunned. He said, ‘I don’t call up my officers and HS?’ I said that, ‘Sir you don’t have to call up the HS, you knew everything as the file came to you’ So basically I could have become the DG but he did not allow me to.

Q) So why isn’t there any DG in your state?
A) Because Modi has to take revenge against an officer called Kuldeep Sharma.

Q) And I have been told that he has his own team of officers.
A) You know when I was IGP Rajkot, there were communal riots near Junagadh. I wrote FIRs against some people. The HM called me up and said, ‘Rajanji where are you?’ I said, ‘Sir I am at Junagadh.’ So he said, ‘achcha write down three names, and arrest all these three.’ I said, ‘Sir these three are sitting with me and let me tell you Sir that they are all Muslims and because of them normalcy has been restored. And these are the people who have brought the Hindus and Muslims together with their efforts and brought the riots to an end.’

So he said, ‘dekho CM sahib ne kaha hai’ and then this guy only was the CM, Narendra Modi, [and he told me] that it was the CM’s order. I said, ‘Sir I can’t do it even if it’s the CM’s order because these three are innocent.’

Q) Who was the one talking to you on the phone.
A) The Home Minister Gordhan Zadaphia.

Q) When was this?
A) Around July 2002, so Zadaphia said he will himself come.

Q) And so who were these people?
A) Arre, they were good people, Muslims, people who were actually helping bring an end to the riots. Anybody else in my place would have arrested them.

Q) And what about this Singhal? He was the one who asked me to speak to you ?
A) I was his boss, he’s now in the ATS. He was my probationer, Dy.Sp.

Q) So who all worked under him?
A) Of those in jail for instance, Vanzara was under him. So what they did was I was Border Range IG, so they got me transferred because they had to bring in Vanzara. So they downgraded the position to accommodate him.

Q) So is the police anti-Muslim here?
A) No, actually these politicians are. So if an officer does not listen to them they send them to a side posting so what are they supposed to do.

Q) The person who Amit Shah asked you to bump off, was he a Muslim?
A) No, he wanted him to go because there was some pressure from the business lobby.

Q) In fact I was told that some officers had been forced to do the Ishrat Jahan encounter?
A) See, between you and me, at one time these people Vanzara and gang had arrested five sardars, and one of them was a constable. So Vanzara said that their encounter should be done because they were terrorists. Luckily Pandian was the SP then and he refused so those five [innocents] were saved.

Q) But the officers are not really anti-Muslim?
A) No, they are not, the politicians make them do this. If you are upright they will never let you be in a posting. Look at what they have done to Rajnish Rai and Rahul Sharma.

A) This government is communal and corrupt. Like this Amit Shah would come and boast to me about what he did to instigate riots in 1985. He would call everybody to his place, like in one meeting he called the Home Secretary and Chief Secretary and one MP and I too was called; I was serving as the IG [then]. So the MP told Amit Shah that you could not even transfer one constable. So Amit Shah turned to me and said, ‘Why was this not done.’ I had to retort that the constable had done nothing wrong. He was only stopping the BJP MP’s son.

Q) But I am surprised he would tell you.
A) He would confide in me. In fact he was the one who told me about the Ishrat case. He said he had kept Ishrat in custody before they were killed and that all five of them were killed and there was no encounter. He would tell me, she was no terrorist.

Q) I am surprised he let you be in the ATS which was such a crucial position?
A) Haan, they thought I was their man and would do as told. So Shah told me, ‘See, we have two pivotal positions vacant, the ATS and that of the Commissioner of Police and we need our men in both these positions. So we are making Ashish Bhatia, the CP and you the ATS chief.’ He told me that see, we have trust in you that you will work as the state tells you. So I said if you really had the faith, why not make me the Commissioner of Police.

Look at P.C.Pande, he did not take any action against the rioters. He should be booked. He’s in the good books of the CM. He’s his blue eyed boy. He was responsible for the killing of Muslims. Hence you see, he has been given a position post retirement also. Although I have an excellent rapport with him, I know what he has done is wrong

Rana Ayyub will be in Hyderabad today (2 July) to promote her book. All India Students Association (AISA) in collaboration with Lamakaan is organising an introduction of the book “Gujarat Files: Anatomy Of A Cover Up” followed by a talk by the author.