The Special Task Force (STF) headed by Justice H S Bedi (retired) was asked to monitor the investigation of 17 encounter cases in Gujarat between 2002 and 2006.
Among the earliest of these 17 encounters was that of Samir Khan Pathan, who was shot dead on October 22, 2002, by a police team led by Tarun Barot at Usmanpura, a suburb of Ahmedabad. Police claimed that Pathan was a Jaish-e-Muhammad operative who had intended to assassinate then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The Gujarat Police Crime Branch was at the time headed by retired IPS officer DG Vanzara, who has recently been acquitted in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case by a CBI court in Mumbai. Barot was subsequently involved in the encounter killings of Sadiq Jamal (2003) — who was branded as a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative out to kill Modi and other leaders — and Ishrat Jahan (2004).
Of the 17 cases whose investigations Justice Bedi monitored, four were settled with compensations being given to the survivors. Among the other encounters were those of:
* Ganesh Khunte and Mahendra Jadav in Ahmedabad in 2003,
* Suleman alias Salim Gagaji Miyana in Rajkot city in 2004,
* Rafiqksha alias Bapudi Mamadsha Fakir in Rajkot Rural in 2005,
* Haji Ismail in Umargam, Valsad, in 2005,
* Rajeshwar alias Mintu Pandey in Borsad, Anand, in 2005,
* Bhima Madabhai Mer in Junagadh in 2004,
* Anil B Misra in Pandesara, Surat,
* Mahesh D Gadhwadi in Umra, Surat,
* Mithu Umar Datel in Vasad, Anand, and
* Kashyap Harpalsinh Dhaka in Karelibaug, Vadodara city.
Misra, Gadhwadi, Datel and Dhaka were all killed in police encounters between 2003 and 2004. The STF officers were from Gujarat Police. A K Sharma, who is now the joint director in the CBI, was the coordinating officer, who reported to Justice Bedi.
The decision of the Supreme Court on Wednesday, directing that a copy of Justice Bedi’s report be given to the petitioners, holds significance because cases could now be lodged against the policemen involved, in case the report has concluded that these encounters were fake. Over the years, several Gujarat Police officers accused of carrying out fake encounters have been given clean chits at various levels.