Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former home secretary R.K. Singh on Thursday said his earlier assertion that Ishrat Jahan was a terrorist stands vindicated with 26/11 conspirator David Coleman Headley’s revealing before a Special Mumbai Court that she was a LeT operative.
“This has been my stand all along. I got into this because some IB officers were being prosecuted and as home secretary, I felt that they were wrongly prosecuted because these people were all terrorists,” Singh told ANI.
“Two of these people had come from across the border. She was with them and there was another man, an Indian origin terrorist, with whom she was living. We had no doubt at all that all these people were terrorists. That’s why I stood for my officers and said this was not a fake encounter and all these people were terrorists,” he added.
He also said some people were playing politics at that time and portrayed Ishrat Jahan as an innocent lady.
The incident had occurred in 2004 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah was the state Home Minister.
Shah's name had cropped up in the Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case. The CBI, however, in 2014 gave a clean chit to the BJP president citing insufficient evidence. The CBI had submitted that Shah was not named in the FIR.
It was on June 15, 2004, that Ishrat Jahan Raza and three others Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an encounter by the Ahmedabad Police.
The Gujarat Police stated that Ishrat, along with three other people, had been gunned down near Ahmedabad by a police team belonging to the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) of the Ahmedabad City Police.
The police claimed that the four were connected with the Lashkar-e-Taiba and had come to Gujarat to assassinate the then chief minister Narendra Modi in order to avenge the communal riots of 2002 which had led to the deaths of numerous Muslims.
A report was submitted by Metropolitan Magistrate S.P. Tamang in the Ahmedabad metropolitan court on September 7, 2009, which said that the four persons were killed in police custody.
The Ahmedabad metropolitan court ruled that Ishrat's killing was a fake encounter. Tamang's report said the Crime Branch police kidnapped Ishrat and the others from Mumbai on June 12, 2004, and brought them to Ahmedabad. Tamang said there was no evidence to link the victims with the LeT. There was also nothing to indicate that they had come to Gujarat to kill Modi.
The Gujarat Government challenged the report of the metropolitan magistrate, saying the policemen accused of fake encounter were not given an opportunity to present their side of the arguments. The Gujarat Government's petition in the High Court against Tamang's report said that it should be scrapped as it was 'illegal and doubtful'.
Gujarat High Court stated that Ishrat Jahan's encounter case was of national importance and ordered the police witnesses to be posted where they would not be working as subordinates to officials accused in the case.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by Karnail Singh, was set up to probe the case further. The SIT sent four teams to Srinagar, Delhi, Lucknow and Nashik to probe Ishrat's alleged terrorist links.
On November 21, 2011, the 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.