Gujarat Police used the Muslim identity of Mumbai college student Ishrat Jahan and three others to falsely brand them as Lashkar-e-Tayyeba terrorists and kill them in “cold blood”, says the controversial magisterial probe report, which declared the June 2004 encounter to be fake.
The report that indicted 25 top state police officials has already been rejected by the state and stayed by Gujarat High Court. The Centre has decided to challenge the stay order in the Supreme Court and back the magistrate’s findings.
“Top 25 police officials hatched a systematic conspiracy, and since deceased Ishrat Jahan Raza and others being Muslims, were illegally detained. It was convenient to show that she was a fidayeen terrorist of the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba,” Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate S.P. Tamang has said in his 270-page report.
“Even though Ishrat was innocent and a brilliant student and a good citizen of India and not a terrorist, she was illegally detained for three days and taken to some other place to be killed,” the report said.
“Being an important member of the family to earn livelihood for her family and to take care of education of her two brothers and four sisters, she even had to work hard while studying herself,” the magistrate has noted.
“Ishrat was murdered in a systemic manner, coldbloodedly, mercilessly and cruelly by the police officers and personnel with their service revolver and unlicensed and illegally held AK-56 rifle and with other weapons.”
Trashing the police version, the report said, “No encounter took place among the police and the deceased nor police fired any bullet in their self-defence.”
To show that Ishrat was a terrorist, the police planted three loaded magazines containing 30 cartridges each...of AK-56 rifles, but the Forensic Science Laboratory report shows their heads were rusted and not fit for use,” said the report.
Gujarat government spokesman Jay Narayan Vyas termed the report as discredited. “We have already rejected the report and the Gujarat High Court has stayed it and asked for action against the magistrate for making his findings public...”
The issue seems set to snowball into a confrontation between the state and Centre, with the Union Law and Home Ministries making it clear they do not accept the state’s version.