NEW DELHI: Gopinath Pillai, who was one of the petitioners in 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, died after his car met with an accident on Wednesday. He was rushed to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries on Friday morning.
Petitioner Gopinath Pillai is the father of Pranesh Kumar alias Javed Sheikh who along with Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old college student from Mumbra, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar gunned down in a fake shootout on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.
Not many know that Pillai was the first to allege that the Ishrat Jahan encounter was fake and stage-managed to get sympathy for the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
He then challenged in court and demanded a CBI investigation. “My son could never be a terrorist,” Gopinath had said earlier.
The Gujarat Police had claimed they had terror links but pillai believed that his son was innocent and hence fought lengthy legal battles to bring justice to the victims of the alleged fake encounter case.
For more than a decade, a father continuously fought legal battle in various courts to prove his son’s innocence despite knowing the fact that his son adopted a Muslim religion.
Pranesh converted to Islam and had changed his name to Javed Sheikh after he fell in love with a Muslim girl.
“Pranesh converted not out of love for Islam but because he thought there was no option if he wanted to marry the girl of his choice.”
Talking to TOI, Gopinath had earlier claimed that his son wasn’t a terrorist, instead he worked for the intelligence department. He said, “My son told me that he helped the police, and in return, the police helped him. I did not know who that senior cop was. But my son said that he had very good relations with that officer. He said the officer was a desh bhakt.”
Fighting for justice for his son, the 78-year-old widower who hailed from Charummodu in the district of Kerala was forced to sell his two-acre rubber plantation to meet the court expenses.
The retired teacher had heaved a sigh of relief when on November 21, 2011, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) told the Gujarat High Court that the Ishrat Jahan encounter was not genuine. After the SIT filed its report, the High Court ordered that a complaint under Indian Penal Code Section 302 (murder) has to be filed against those involved in the fake encounter, in which over 20 policemen, including senior IPS officers, were involved.
With the death of Gopinatha Pillai, Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kauser remains the only petitioner in the case.