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Guj encounters: Justice Bedi panel recommends prosecution of 9 policemen in 3 out of 17 cases

Guj encounters: Justice Bedi panel recommends prosecution of 9 policemen in 3 out of 17 cases

New Delhi: The Justice H S Bedi committee, which investigated several cases of alleged fake encounter in Gujarat from 2002 to 2006, has recommended prosecution of police officials in three out of the 17 cases probed by it.

In its final report filed in the apex court, Justice Bedi has said three persons -- Sameer Khan, Kasam Jafar and Haji Haji Ismail -- were prime facie killed in fake encounters by the Gujarat Police officials.

The committee has indicted a total of nine police officials, including three inspector rank officer. It has however not recommended prosecution of any IPS officer in these cases.

The court had appointed Justice Bedi, ex-Supreme Court judge, as chairman of the monitoring committee probing 17 encounter cases from 2002 to 2006 in Gujarat and the panel had submitted its report to the top court in a sealed cover in February last year.

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 and ordered that it be given to petitioners, including poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar.

Dealing with the case of Sameer Khan, the committee has recommended prosecution of two inspectors K M Vaghela and T A Barot for the offence of murder and other relevant offences.

According to the police, Sameer along with his cousin had stabbed a police constable, who had died on the spot in May 1996. While his cousin was arrested, he had fled from spot.The police had alleged that later he went to Pakistan and took training from terror organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and re-entered India via Nepal.

The report noted that as per police, after the 2002 Akshardham Mandir attack, Sameer was directed by a Pakistan-based JeM operative to go to Ahmedabad and kill the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

It noted that Sameer 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 (since dead) -- 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 has passed away, no proceeding against him was possible. Besides, the panel has also granted Rs 10 lakh compensation to Sameer's family.

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

According to police, Jafar was being taken to a police station and during the transit, he escaped from custody and 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.

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