NEW DELHI: CBI has questioned the deputy National Security Adviser and former IB chief N Sandhu in connection with its probe into an alleged fake encounter of Sadiq Jamaal Mehtar in 2003 by the Gujarat Police.
CBI sources told TOI that Sandhu was questioned here last week about an IB input which said Jamal, a terrorist, was on a mission to kill Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and other BJP and VHP leaders.
Deputy NSA did not respond to calls and text messages from TOI.
Sandhu was joint Director of Operations in the IB: a crucial position for counter-terror operations at the time of the encounter. The CBI has questioned the authenticity of the encounter. It is probing the case at the instance of Gujarat high court.
In its first chargesheet, the CBI accused the regional IB office in Mumbai (Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau) and the Mumbai crime branch of \"stage-managing\" the arrest of Jamal, leading to his death in the subsequent \"encounter\" with 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.
\"We asked Nehchal Sandhu what he thought about the authenticity of the input generated by the SIB on Jamal, as well as why did the IB facilitate Jamal\'s transfer to Gujarat from the custody of the Mumbai Crime Branch,\" said a senior CBI officer familiar with the details of the investigation.
The question posed by the officer is significant in view of the report prepared by the SIB based on Jamal\'s interrogation. Sources said that while Jamal, a Bhavnagar resident, with links with D-Company, had claimed that he planned to kill Modi and other Sangh Parivar leaders, IB officials in Mumbai had concluded that he lacked the capability to carry out the terror strike.
That being the case, CBI wants to find out why Jamal was handed over to Gujarat, as well as the persons were behind, what the CBI sources called, an \"inexplicable\" decision.
To support its contention that Jamal, who worked as domestic help of Tariq Parveen, a Dawood associate, didn\'t have the wherewithal to implement his purported plan to kill Sangh leaders, the CBI has pointed out that SIB had discovered that Jamal had been involved only in small crimes like gambling.
According to CBI, Jamal was picked up by IB on December 19, 2002, kept in the custody of Mumbai Police at the Andheri Office of the Crime Intelligence Unit, and then handed over to the Gujarat Police on January 3, 2003.
CBI sources said that their session with Sandhu did not leave them any wiser about why IB \"facilitated\" Jamal\'s transfer to Gujarat when he posed no immediate threat to leaders in the state. They quoted Sandhu telling the CBI team that his role was limited to passing on the inputs he had received from SIB in Mumbai.
Sources said that a former top-ranking officer of IB, Sudhir Kumar, who headed the SIB in Mumbai at the time, had told the investigators that \"sensitive\" operations like the one involving Jamal were handled directly by Delhi. \"A blame game seems to be on with nobody ready to own up the responsibility,\" said a top CBI officer.
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