Politics

Police Withdraws Free Protection to Ishrat Jahan’s Mother, Despite Claim of Continued Threat

The Thane police told Shamima Kausar that she will have to pay Rs 1,723 per day if she wants to continue receiving protection for her and her family.

Ishrat Jahan's mother Shamima Kausar (L) and sister Nusrat at a press conference. Credit: PTI/Files

Ishrat Jahan’s mother Shamima Kausar (L) and sister Nusrat at a press conference. Credit: PTI/Files

New Delhi: Shamima Kausar, Ishrat Jahan’s mother, was told in a letter on January 3 that she will no longer receive free police protection from the Maharashtra (Mumbra) police. If she continues to require police protection, she was told, she will have to pay the state Rs 1,723 per day.

Kauser had filed a writ petition in the Gujarat high court in 2004 asking for an independent investigation into the alleged fake encounter of her daughter and three others by the Gujarat police. She is also a witness in the case against police officers for the alleged murder of Ishrat. A CBI chargesheet has been filed against senior police officers in Gujarat and officers of the Intelligence Bureau for the encounter.

Kauser’s lawyer, Vrinda Grover, requested security for Kauser in 2013, when she and two others she was travelling with were attacked. The family had also reported that they were being followed. In response to Grover’s request, Kausar was granted free police protection from July 10, 2013 by the Thane police.

Kausar has written to the police asking that free protection not be withdrawn, as she continues to face threats to her security. She also expressed her “shock” at the decision to withdraw police protection, saying that she had no knowledge that a committee had been formed to asses her situation. Given that many of the accused are out on bail and have also been reinstated, she writes, it cannot be said that the threat to her and her family is reduced in any way. In her letter, she said:

“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that today myself, my family and those who stood by me, including Rauf Lala and Mohinuddin Ismail Sayed, are at an even greater risk than before. You must be aware that in the last two two years all the police officers who are accused and named in the CBI chargesheet for having conspired to murder my daughter, have been released on bail. You must also be aware that many of the accused have been reinstated in senior positions in the Gujarat Police. Accused No.2 -P.P.Pandey who secured bail in February 2015 was reinstated, and since April 2016 is holding the post of In-Charge DGP of Gujarat. Accused No.3- D.G.Vanzara, former Deputy Inspector General of Police DIG secured bail in February 2015, though retired from police service, he continues to be extremely influential and enjoys the support of several powerful figures. Accused No. 3- G.L.Singhal has been reinstated as Superintendent of Police, State Reserve Police, Gandhinagar under the Armed Units in May 2014. Accused No.5-N.K.Amin has been reinstated as Superintendent of Police of Mahisagar District, Gujarat. Accused No.1- J.G.Parmar, Accused No.6- Tarun Barot and Accused No.7 – Anaju Chaudhury are all on bail.

I have also recently learnt from media reports that Accused No.2 – P.P.Pandey, has moved an application in Gujarat trial court to be discharged as an accused in the case of murder of my daughter Ishrat Jahan.”

Kauser has now moved an application in the court, seeking to join the proceedings to oppose Pandey’s plea.

The timing of the removal of free police protection has been question by Kauser’s counsel. “It is really very shocking that the police have said that they wish to withdraw security,” Grover told The Wire. “This would render her extremely vulnerable, particularly at the time when the [fake encounter] trial is about to commence. She is an important witness in this case. The Supreme Court has repeatedly stressed and emphasised that witnesses need to be giving protection in order to ensure that there is a fair trial. This, to my mind, is an indirect way of intimidating Shamima Kausar from pursuing her struggle for justice for Ishrat Jahan.”

Note: This piece was edited to correct an erroneous statement that protection was previously provided by the Gujarat police.