David Coleman Headley’s claim that Ishrat Jahan, killed in an encounter in 2004, was a Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist renewed the political slugfest on the issue between the BJP and the Congress on Thursday.
The BJP demanded an apology from the Congress for targeting its government in Gujarat for many years over Jahan’s killing in an encounter with security forces. Latching on to Headley’s statement, the ruling party took potshots at Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar for allegedly having described Jahan as Bihar’s daughter.
“Appeasement of terror outfits and terrorists had been given the name of secularism by some political forces. A thorough inquiry should be done on what he (Headley) has said,” Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari told HT.
Jahan and three others, Javed Shaikh, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, were killed in a June 15, 2004 operation in Gujarat led by deputy inspector general of the state police DG Vanzara who was later jailed in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case.
“The Congress president and vice-president should apologise to the heroes who killed LeT terrorist Ishrat Jahan and her accomplices,” BJP leader Shrikant Sharma said.
The Congress refused to go on the back foot. Party leader Sandeep Dikshit alleged that Lashkar accomplice Headley had named Jahan as a terrorist as part of “a deal”.
“Four or five days before the statement, I heard from a number of people that this is one of the deals that has been done and Headley will take Ishrat Jahan’s name as a terrorist. How is it that many people who don’t even know who David Headley is knew that he would be making this deposition?” Dikshit said.
The BJP dubbed the testimony as “truth” that has to been seen as it is. “Headley pointed towards Ishrat in 2013 (during UPA tenure) but at that time there was an attempt to not accept truth as it was. The attempt seems to be more than finding the truth,” BJP leader Nalin Kohli said.
The BJP pointed out that finance minister Arun Jaitley, then leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, had written to the then PM Manmohan Singh that the Lashkar-e-Taiba hailed Jahan as a martyr.
The Congress, however, argued that Jahan’s murder was a “very clear case of human rights violation” and the Gujarat government or police had not been able to provide any evidence to prove her links with any anti-national activity.