CBI grilling NSA deputy chief over Gujarat 'encounter'

The Central Bureau of Investigation is interrogating India's deputy national security adviser Nehchal Sandhu, who was earlier a director in the Intelligence Bureau, in connection with an allegedly fake encounter case that occurred in Gujarat over 10 years ago.

Sandhu was the joint director operations in the IB when one Sadiq Jamaal Mehtar was killed by the Gujarat Police in January 2003.

The IB had apparently suggested to the state police that Sadiq was planning to target senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Gujarat chief minister, who is now the BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

The Mumbai branch of the IB had handed over Sadiq to the Gujarat police's crime branch.

The CBI, which is probing the case on directions of the Gujarat High Court, has said in its charge-sheet that after spending 10 days in the custody of the Gujarat Police, Sadiq was taken to a secluded spot on the outskirts of Ahmedabad and shot dead in what was claimed to be an "encounter", the Indian euphemism for security forces shooting down suspects without benefit of trial.

The encounter involved several high-profile officers from the Gujarat Police including suspended Indian Police Service officer D G Vanzara, who is also one of the prime accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Ishrat Jahan 'encounter' cases and is currently in jail.

The CBI had earlier questioned former special directors of the IB Sudhir Kumar and Rajinder Kumar in connection with the encounter.

Sadiq's brother Shabir has sought further investigation into the alleged role played by former Gujarat minister of state for home Rajinder Kumar, one Amit Shah, and chief minister Narendra Modi.

The Gujarat Police has claimed that Sadiq was a terrorist who entered Ahmedabad to kill Modi and Hindu nationalism advocate Pravin Togadia.

It had made a claim similar in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case.

In its first charge-sheet, the CBI accused the regional IB office in Mumbai and the Mumbai police crime branch of "stage-managing" the arrest of Jamal, leading to his death at the hands of the Gujarat police.

According to the CBI chargesheet, Jamal had spent 10 days in the custody of the Gujarat Police before being taken to a secluded spot in Ahmedabad and killed in what was claimed to be "encounter" on January 13, 2003.