As controversy rages over the Ishrat Jehan case, a member of the CBI team that probed the encounter has finally broken his silence on the matter. Satish Verma, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, told NDTV that Ishrat, a 19-year-old college student, and the three men shot by Gujarat Police in Ahmedabad in June 2004 were killed in "cold blood". This comes at a time when former Home Secretary GK Pillai and a slew of former officials have, in recent weeks, claimed that the encounter was a successful operation by the Intelligence Bureau.
"The CBI chargesheet says exactly the same thing that this was a controlled operation of the IB. Some people came here, they were caught, they were clubbed with Javed and Ishrat and killed in cold blood. Now this may be a brilliant operation, but then this is also a fake encounter. So both are true," Mr Verma told NDTV.
A dispute has also broken out over the two affidavits filed by the Home Ministry on the encounter - the first says that Ishrat was a member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), while the second reverses that conclusion. The Home Ministry official who drafted the affidavits, RVS Mani, has accused Satish Verma of torturing him in order to implicate members of the Intelligence Bureau.
Dismissing the allegations as "complete nonsense", Mr Verma said, "For one thing, there is nothing like that in the statement of Mr Mani (to the Home Ministry in 2013). He has said nothing material and he is alleging that we wanted him to implicate officers". He also alleged that Mr Mani had admitted to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that the first affidavit was drafted by the Intelligence Bureau. "That is what Mr Mani told us. He told us so, when we examined him that how did he write in the affidavit, as it is a long affidavit which goes into details that were only available to the investigating officer of the Gujarat Police subsequent to the incident."
The first affidavit says that Ishrat was a member of the LeT, based, amongst others, on newspaper reports which referred to her martyrdom being celebrated in the terror group's official mouthpiece. Last month, terrorist David Coleman Headley, in his testimony to a Mumbai court, said that she was an LeT operative. But Satish Verma said both sources were unreliable. "After very laborious investigations on the subject (by the CBI), there is no material to indicate that Ishrat could have been an LeT operative, much less a suicide bomber or a fidayeen."