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No Fear No Favour

Meet Satish Verma, the cop who unearthed the Kiren Rijiju scam

Ishrat Jahan case has been one of the most controversial cases in the history of our country. All those who have even a slight knowledge about the case must definitely be aware of the cop who played one of the most prominent roles in the case by assisting CBI in the probe. Satish Verma is now in the news for all the different reasons and this one can’t go unnoticed for sure.

Mr. Satish Verma, the Gujarat-cadre IPS officer who assisted the CBI in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, has said in a petition before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that his services as the Central Vigilance Officer (CVO) of a power corporation were curtailed as he had flagged a transportation scam worth Rs. 450 crore involving a relative of Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and also for investigating a fraudulent land deal in Gujarat.

Satish Verma’s tenure as CVO of North Eastern Electrical Power Corporation (NEEPCO) was curtailed by a year in July, and he was simultaneously served notice for alleged “misconduct” and “unauthorised absence” from duty by the Home Ministry. In the affidavit, Mr. Verma said that all his outstation visits were accounted for and were done to investigate the fraudulent activities.

Verma said alleged Goboi Rijiju, one of the affected transporters and a ‘distant cousin’ of Mr. Rijiju, came to his office in Shillong on December 29, 2015, and offered to help him with his promotion if the officer cleared his payments that had been stuck for months. To support this, Mr. Verma submitted an audiotape to the tribunal.
The petition also contains a letter dated November 9, 2015, written by Mr. Rijiju to Power Minister Piyush Goyal seeking his intervention on the plea of people who transported boulders that their payment had been “stopped at the behest of CVO, NEEPCO”.

Satish Verma’s role in Ishrat Jahan case:

Satish Verma assisted CBI in the Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter in Gujarat, 2004. Satish Verma, after a long row of assertions and probes came up with conclusion in fromt of the media that the her killing was a “premeditated murder”.

In a statement given to the media Verma said that, “Our investigation has found that Ishrat along with three others had been picked by IB (Intelligence Bureau) days before the encounter. In fact, there was no intelligence input with the IB that a woman would be accompanying the alleged terrorists. There was no input on Ishrat. These people were kept in illegal custody and then shot dead”

“What is happening here is that this bogey of nationalism and security is being raised to discredit a poor and innocent girl so that an environment can be created for a favourable outcome for those involved in this crime. The Home Ministry has refused sanctions to prosecute IB officers even though courts have held that in fake encounters, there is no requirement for sanction.”

What was Ishrat Jahan case all about?

According to the Gujarat Police, Ishrat Jahan, 19, and three others had been shot dead on 15 June 2004 in an encounter. However, using forensic and other material evidence, both Tamang and the SIT have found that they had been shot in cold blood at an earlier date. Twenty-one police officers are implicated in the case. Of these, suspended DIG DG Vanzara and ACP NK Amin are also the prime accused in the notorious Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case and the murder of his wife Kauser Bi. Both officers are currently in jail for this.

Apart from nailing the complicity of these cops, however, in a significant gesture, the court has suggested the Ishrat case now be handed over to another investigating agency — either the CBI or the NIA (National Investigation Agency). “The probe agency would need to find out that who played the key role in the encounter, what the motive was, and what was the actual time of the death of the four people,” the court said.

Later this year in March 2016, Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley Saturday claimed that LeT commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi had told him about Ishrat Jahan ‘operation’ though he had also learnt about the case through the media. Headley, who testified before an anti-terror court here in the 26/11 case during his cross-examination on the fourth day, claimed that he had told NIA that “a female member who had died in an encounter in India was Ishrat Jahan” and other things but could not say why they were not recorded by the agency. However, he went back on a part of his statement to the NIA, saying that he did not tell the probe agency about Lakhvi informing him that “Ishrat Jahan module” was a “botched-up operation” and added that “these were my thoughts”.

Rijiju’s Reply to Allegations

Stung by news reports about his cousin being involved in a corruption scandal, a petulant Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs, ‘threatened ‘ to welcome question-asking, pesky journalists with shoes if they ever visited his home state of Arunachal Pradesh to unearth more details. Rijiju himself if also ‘involved’ in the scandal, if a report in today’s edition of the Indian Express is anything to go by, though the degree of his involvement is yet to be proven till now.

Express had reported upon a 129-page report Satish Verma, the Chief Vigilance Officer of North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO), who has alleged that its Chairman and Managing Director had committed massive fraud in the construction of a hydel power plant in collusion with some unscrupulous contractors. Verma’s report alleges that Rijiju’s cousin Goboi Rijiju was one of the contractors involved in the swindling, and the former himself had signed cheques clearing the payments for constructions which have remained only a distant dream in reality till now. Besides, the fraud, estimated to be worth 450 crores, also involves inflated bills and non-existent transport challans. Verma, who was recently transferred to the CRPF without any reasons being assigned, has alleged vindictiveness by NEEPCO for his enthusiastic investigation. He does not rule out Rijiju’s hand, though he hasn’t made any direct attribution till now.

By: Swapnil Mishra

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