New Delhi, Nov. 3: A credibility question mark hangs over the Delhi police allegation that senior police officer R.K. Sharma leaked “classified” documents to murdered journalist Shivani Bhatnagar.
The Delhi police’s crime branch has maintained all along in the October 25 chargesheet that Shivani had threatened to “expose his involvement in pilferage and passing on of secret/classified documents to her”. This was allegedly one of the two motives behind her murder, the other being that she was threatening to “spoil” Sharma’s social status and married life.
The police also charged that after murdering Shivani in January 1999, Pradeep Sharma — the only killer — ran away with a camera of Kodak make, a gold chain and certain documents from her Nav Kunj apartment in east Delhi.
The confessional statements of Pradeep and prime accused Sharma, submitted to the trial court along with the chargesheet, however, tell a different story. But these are not admissible evidence in court.
Pradeep’s five-page report in Hindi does not contain even a word on his running away with any document or a gold chain. He says that after the murder, he ransacked an almirah and threw everything inside on to the floor.
The only item Pradeep says he picked up was a small camera. “I picked up the small camera kept on the fridge and kept it with me,” his report says. “After coming out of the apartment, I showed that camera to Satya Prakash (another accused), which he kept in his pocket.”
Pradeep concludes by saying he could help police recover the camera he picked up from Shivani’s house. He does not mention the gold chain, which police recovered in the later stages of the investigation. The camera, too, was seized from one of the accused.
Sharma says the same story in his confessional statement. The 1976-batch Haryana cadre IPS officer says he does “not recollect to have given her any classified document”. But he concedes that Shivani had “some documents, which she said could cast adverse impact on my service career”.
This raises doubts over the police theory that Pradeep escaped with secret documents from Shivani’s house which were leaked by Sharma while he was an OSD in the Prime Minister’s Office in 1997-98.
In the list of documents submitted before the trial court, the crime branch mentions three documents, handed over to the police on January 25 by Shivani’s husband and senior journalist, Rakesh Bhatnagar. The documents were procured by Shivani and included a sealed envelope containing classified documents. The crime branch has not been able to establish in the chargesheet that Shivani used the documents to file reports.
Moreover, can two of the documents — one on “Jammu and Kashmir: Main Trends in 1997” and the other on “Rising Dalit Consciousness and Caste Violence: Remedial Measures” — be treated as secret and sensitive' The Delhi police will have to grapple with these vital questions in court.