The Gujarat government on Tuesday rejected the magisterial inquiry report stating that the encounter in 2004 in which Mumbai college student Ishrat Jahan and three others were killed was fake.
The state government cited an affidavit filed by the Union Home Ministry in its defence. The affidavit said the encounter was genuine and had described the deceased as Lashkar-e-Tayyeba militants.
“The probe report is bad in law and we outrightly reject it. We will challenge it in a higher court. The magistrate has overstepped his jurisdiction,” Gujarat government spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas said.
He cited the Union Home Ministry’s affidavit filed in the Gujarat High Court on August 6, stating that “Ishrat and her three accomplices were LeT operatives and the Centre had passed on the information to the state government on the organisation’s activities.”
But Ishrat Jahan's sister Mushrat Jahan said, “We stand vindicated. We had known from the very beginning that Ishrat was innocent and that the police killed her as part of a well-hatched conspiracy. She loved her country like anybody else.”
Despite the Gujarat government’s assertion that the encounter was “genuine”, it faces uncomfortable questions. The immediate trouble for it is in the fake encounters in which Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and their friend, Tulsiram Prajapati, were killed between November 2005 and March 2006.
The Gujarat government has already admitted before the Supreme Court that all three were killed in fake encounters. The court has told the state to pay Rs 10 lakh (Rs 1 million) as compensation to the Shekih family, and the case was likely to be heard further on Wednesday.
The Gujarat Police faces allegations of having killed 20 people in 11 fake encounters between 2002 and 2006.
The Ishrat Jahan probe report is likely to also put the UPA government in a spot. It will have to explain how the Home Ministry affidavit supported the Gujarat government’s stand.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) demanded Modi’s resignation over the fake encounters, saying, “The targeted killings of persons belonging to the minority community by the state police reveals the state of affairs under the Narendra Modi government."