Sunday, Jun 26, 2022

Pointers To A Fake Encounter

Unanswered questions, tell-tale signs and details that do not add up

Pointers To A Fake Encounter

1. The report on the post-mortem, which was conducted between 3.40 pm and 5 pm on June 15, 2004, indicated a fully developed rigor mortis and death between 12 to 24 hours before the examination. The encounter had allegedly taken place around 5 am that day.

2. The exit wounds on all the bodies were larger than the entry holes, indicating they were shot from close range and not from a distance of 66 feet. This was borne out by ballistic reports that indicated the victims were sitting when they were shot by people standing close to them.

3. The duty roster of two commandos, who participated in the encounter, showed that they were personal security guards of IPS officers, P.P. Pandey and Vanzara, and were with them when the encounter took place. Both Pandey and Vanzara had claimed they were not present on the spot.

4. G.L. Singhal, IPS, who led one of the six police teams set up to intercept the terrorists, apparently did not have any firearm and did not fire a single shot. " Unusual for the commander of such an operation", observed one of the inquiry reports.

5. One of the alleged terrorists was said to have come out of the car, when challenged, and fired at the police around 50 rounds from an AK-56 rifle. The police claimed to have retaliated by firing 70 rounds from an AK-47, sten guns and service revolvers. But while the magazines of the AK-56 were recovered from the spot, magazines of the rounds allegedly fired by the police were not.

6. The terrorist said to have used the AK-56 was killed by bullets fired from the same rifle, says the post-mortem report. His hand-wash report indicated no gunpowder, indicating he had not used the weapon. According to photographs, his arm was clutching the magazine, which was not possible if he was using it.

7. Police records claimed that the Joint Police Commissioner P.P. Pandey had received specific intelligence input from his "personal" and "private" sources around 11 pm on June 14. Pandey reiterated to a PUCL team that his sources need not be 'official'.

8. While the police claimed to have formed six teams and set up road blockades at six points in the city after receiving the input, nothing on record shows the deployment of such teams.

9. Intensive checking of both incoming vehicles and vehicles moving within the city was being done in view of the impending Rath Yatra. There were several check posts but none of them either recorded or intercepted the car with terrorists carrying "firearms, live ammunition, 20 Kgs of sulphur and urea, two lakhs in cash in an unlocked briefcase in the luggage boot and 30 coconuts dipped in chemical".

10. The cash, coconuts, the powder and the live ammunition find no mention in the Panchnama recorded after the encounter. But they surfaced in another Panchnama conducted between 2 and 7 pm that day. The Mobile Unit of the Forensic Science Laboratory at Ahmedabad, which examined the site, also made no mention of these articles in its 'visitation report'.

11. Police records held that a Commando, Mohanbhai Nanjibhai, was sitting on the front seat of the Police Gypsy along with ACP, N.K. Amin. This was improbable because the place beside the driver was a single-seater and too cramped for two persons with firearms. Also it was found unlikely that an ACP and a constable would sit together.

12. The claim that the Commando, Nanjibhai, had fired at the tyre of a Tata Indica, was not found to be credible because the police Gypsy had a double wire mesh on the windscreen as well as windows.

13. As many as 24 exit holes were found on the right side of the Indica but there were only 6 entry holes on the left side. The police Gypsy was behind the Indica and on its left. The mystery of the extra 18 holes can be explained only if the doors on the right side were held open and shots fired from close range.

14. The bonnet of the Indica also had three bullet holes, two of them entry points. According to experts, they could have been made only by someone crouching in the front. Policemen claimed to have taken up position behind the car.

15. No policeman was injured in the encounter, allegedly because the policemen hid behind their Gypsy. Investigators wondered what prevented the terrorists from hiding behind their own car and why only one of them was said to have come out of the car. No explanation was forthcoming on why the road divider, from where one of the terrorists was firing at the police and where he was shot dead, no bullet mark was ever found.

Compiled from Inquiry reports of the Metropolitan Magistrate, police records, SIT and the