Ishrat case: Gujarat senior cop on the run

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PANDEYAhmedabad, August 10;He evaded arrest for three months, then appeared on a stretcher in a CBI court, subsequently came somewhat erect on a wheelchair seeking protection from arrest and when his anticipatory bail plea was rejected, quickly stood up and ran away in his car. And now he is on the run again — after being on the crutches of legal reprieve for some days — as all his options have failed.

This is not about a hardened criminal, but of 1982 batch IPS official Additional Director- General of Gujarat Police, CID (Crime and Railways), P.P. Pandey, who has been named a prime accused and proclaimed offender in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. The CBI has chargesheeted him and six other policemen for the encounter.

Ironically, the job of Mr. Pandey’s police wing is also to look out for absconding criminals.

And now, none other than Mr. Pandey’s boss, Director-General of Police Amitabh Pathak has issued instructions to all district police superintendents and commissioners to get the ADGP. He has issued official letters asking them to step up vigilance at railway stations, airports and all highway checkposts for Mr. Pandey. The DGP’s orders follow a CBI request for assistance in nabbing the police official.

Not only this, the CBI has also requested the Delhi and Uttar Pradesh police to keep a vigil for the official, who claims his lineage to freedom fighter Mangal Pandey from Uttar Pradesh.

Mr. Pandey appeared before a CBI court on July 29 on a stretcher after being on the run for three months during which he was declared a proclaimed absconder.

Later on Tuesday last, when he presented himself before the same court on a wheelchair, he called in two Muslims to push his wheelchair and tried to establish his secular credentials before the local media. When his bail plea was rejected by the trial court and within hours of his failed attempt to get relief from the Gujarat High Court, he disappeared yet again. On Thursday, even the Supreme Court rejected his interim plea for protection from arrest though it agreed to hear him again on August 12.

“Key conspirator”

Mr. Pandey was Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Ahmedabad, when Ishrat, her friend Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, and their associates Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were shot dead in cold blood in a staged encounter by Gujarat Crime Branch sleuths on June 15, 2004 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

On July 3, the CBI filed its first charge sheet in which it called the encounter fake and Pandey named a key conspirator. The police officials had claimed that Ishrat and the others had connections with Lashkar-e-Taiba and they were on a mission to assassinate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

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