A special Central Bureau of Investigation court on Wednesday, March 31 discharged police officers GL Singhal, Tarun Barot and Anaju Chaudhary in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case.
Special CBI judge VR Raval approved the discharge applications of the three police officers, reported NDTV.
The central agency on March 20 conveyed to the court that the state government had denied prosecution sanction against the three accused.
The court, in October 2020, observed that they had "acted in their official duties," so the probe agency was required to obtain prosecution sanction.
Who Was Ishrat Jahan?
Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old woman from Mumbra near Mumbai, was killed along with Javed Shaikh (alias Pranesh Pillai), Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar by Gujarat police in a fake encounter near Gujarat's Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.
The police had labelled the four as terrorists and said that they were planning to assassinate then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The police said they were planning a suicide mission.
Police identified Johar and Rana as Pakistani nationals and alleged that Shaikh was "arranging their local network".
Ishrat Jahan was initially not identified by the police and went by "female terrorist" in the police record on the day the FIR was registered. Later, she was identified as a college student from Mumbai's suburb Mumbra.
In July 2004, a Pakistan-based news outlet published a report in which terrorist organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) claimed that Ishrat Jahan was a "woman activist of LeT".
Police cited the report in its investigation, however, the claim was later withdrawn by the terrorist group, reported India Today.
The fake encounter took place in June 2004 when a police officer received a tip-off that three men were on their way from Mumbai to Ahmedabad in a blue vehicle armed with explosives.
The police stopped the vehicle on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. At least four people were killed in a shootout. Police claimed that the 'terrorists' fired more than 50 rounds from two revolvers and two Kalashnikovs.
A high court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) later concluded that the police encounter was fake, after which the CBI registered a case against various cops.
The encounter sparked a massive controversy with human rights activists and the opposition calling it a targeted killing.
The Supreme Court later ordered a CBI inquiry into the killings after which several Gujarat cops came under the scanner for their involvement.
The CBI had arrested six police officers in connection with the Ishrat Jahan encounter case and all six have now been discharged by the court in Ahmedabad.