MHA Additional Secretary trashes Indian Express report on Ishrat Jahan case probe

New Delhi, June 16 : Additional Secretary (Foreigners) Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) B.K. Prasad on Thursday rubbished the allegations of “tutoring” a witness while probing into “missing papers” relating to the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, contesting that he had conducted a fair inquiry and all officers inquired by him are fully capable of answering questions relating to the probe on their own.

Prasad, who headed the probe into the missing documents in the Ishrat Jahan case, said he had conducted a free and fair inquiry which his Inquiry Report will reveal.

“All officers enquired by me are or have been senior officers in the Government and are fully capable of answering questions relating to the probe on their own and there is no question of the alleged ‘tutoring’, “Prasad said in a statement issued here.

He further said, “No evidence has been produced establishing that Mr. Ashok Kumar testified being ‘tutored’ during my alleged conversation.”

Reacting sharply to a news report published by The Indian Express, Prasad said, “First of all, it is unethical to record my conversation that also with another officer without my permission and knowledge. More importantly, the conversation had nothing to do with the point of query the journalist had.

“Secondly, what is he saying is only one side of the conversation, without being aware of what the other side, i.e., Mr Ashok Kumar was asking or clarifying with me.

“Thirdly, the officer with whom my conversation has been quoted was enquired by me on 26th April, 2016 and the questions which have been quoted from my alleged conversation were never asked from Mr. Ashok Kumar and the answer which is quoted by the newspaper was never given by him.”

He also enclosed with the statement a verbatim of the statement and questions put by him and answers given by Ashok Kumar to put the record straight.

It reads: “I, Ashok Kumar, CSS cadre officer of 1988, during the period from 3/1/2011 to 23/12/2011, was working as Director, IS Division-II in the Ministry of Home Affairs. On 26/4/2016, I have been called by Shri B.K. Prasad, IAS, Additional Secretary (Foreigners) & the Enquiry Officer, and was enquired about the following missing papers from the file, File No.11011/75/04-1S-IV, relating to filing of Affidavit in the Isharat lahan Case, (SCA No.822 of 2004 filed by Mrs. Shamina Kausar in the lion’ble Gujarat High Court) – i) Office copy of the letter and enclosure sent by the then HS (Home Secretary) to the Ld.AG on 18.9.2009; ii) Office copy of the letter sent by the then HS to the Ld.AG on 23/9/2009; iii) Draft further affidavit as vetted by the Ld.AG; iv) Draft further affidavit amended by the then HM on 24/9/2009; v) Office copy of the further affidavit filed in the Gujarat High Court on 29.9.2009.”

“On my request, Shri B. K. Prasad, IAS, AS(F) & the Enquiry Officer has permitted me to peruse the note portions of the above file. The note sheets of the above file reveals that I have not dealt with this file during my entire period in MEM,” it further reads.

Prasad then puts questions asked by him and answers given by Ashok Kumar.

Question by AS(F) & Enquiry officer: “On 13/4/2011, the then JS (IS) Shri Dharmendra Sharma has made endorsement on the file and marked it to Dir (NE), who was link officer of Dir (IS-II) (By hand). Whether you had received this file from the then IS Shri Dharmendra Sharma, as marked by him?”

Answer by Ashok Kumar: “As indicated in the note, I was on tour and even after return from my tour, Dir (NE) did not show me or handover this file to me. I have during my entire tenure, neither dealt with this case nor kept this file in my custody.”

Question by AS(F) & Enquiry officer: “Can you please tell me in whose custody the above missing papers could be now?”

Answer by Ashok Kumar: “It would be very difficult for me to say anything regarding the above missing papers.”

The Indian Express reported on June 16: B K Prasad, the Union Home Ministry official who headed the probe into the “missing documents” in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, not only told a witness the questions he would ask but also suggested to him what answers he should give – that he had not seen any of the documents.

This coaching of a witness by the man heading the investigation puts a question mark on the integrity of the probe announced in Lok Sabha by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on March 10.