FIR over missing files in Ishrat Jahan case could reopen political can of worms
Police lodged an FIR on missing documents from the Union home ministry’s files related to the alleged extra-judicial killing of Ishrat Jahan, a Mumbai college girl suspected to be a terrorist and shot dead in 2004.india Updated: Sep 26, 2016 00:57 IST
Police lodged an FIR on missing documents from the Union home ministry’s files related to the alleged extra-judicial killing of Ishrat Jahan, a Mumbai college girl suspected to be a terrorist and shot dead in 2004.
The investigation may trigger a fresh round of Congress-BJP slugfest since the probe may focus on former home minister P Chidambaram.
Gujarat police killed the 19-year-old girl in Ahmedabad along with Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai and two Pakistanis, saying they were Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists on a mission to assassinate Narendra Modi, the chief minister then.
The allegation was contested after Pillai’s father and Ishrat’s mother approached the Gujarat high court, leading to suspicion of a staged police shooting, or “fake encounter”, and triggering a long political battle between the Congress and BJP.
The case has seen many twists and turns, one of them being the missing papers — five crucial documents related to preparation of a second affidavit in the Ishrat case. The home ministry wants police to find out under what circumstances these went missing.
The Centre filed two affidavits in 2009, when Congress leader Chidambaram was home minister, following a petition seeking a probe into the shooting. The first had details about Ishrat’s alleged terrorist links, but those were omitted in the second, filed more than a month later.
The BJP accused its predecessor, the Congress-led UPA, of dropping Ishrat’s name from the second affidavit to bolster its stand that an innocent girl was killed by Gujarat police, and to defame the state government under Modi.
Chidambaram defended the decision to file a second affidavit, saying it was necessary since a magisterial inquiry in Gujarat called the incident a fake encounter.
The political wrangling took a turn when the BJP-led NDA came to power at the Centre and, on March 10 this year, home minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament two letters from then home secretary GK Pillai to the attorney general in 2009 have disappeared.
Pillai too alleged that the second affidavit was framed at the political level, hinting at Chidambaram’s role. The missing documents included a draft of the second affidavit that Chidambaram had corrected.
Singh then appointed additional secretary in his ministry, BK Prasad, to head a one-man committee to investigate the case of missing documents, crucial in the Ishrat trial.
The Prasad panel submitted a 52-page report to home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, saying five missing documents on preparation of second affidavit were removed knowingly, unknowingly or misplaced between September 18 and 28, 2009, when the UPA was in power.
But the panel’s fairness came under question as Prasad has been accused of tutoring a witness. Chidambaram called its report doctored.
The Delhi police FIR, registered last Thursday, is likely to raise the political heat again between the two rival parties.
The CBI had charged more than half-a-dozen Gujarat policemen and four Intelligence Bureau officers of extra-judicial murder. But the trial is in limbo as the home ministry did not give the CBI sanction to prosecute the IB men.