Unfazed by BJP’s attacks, former Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday stood by the second affidavit in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, insisting it was “absolutely correct” and as the minister “I accept the responsibility”.
Talking to reporters at the Congress headquarters, former Finance Minister expressed disappointment over former Home Secretary G K Pillai distancing himself from the affidavit issue despite being “equally responsible”.
Pillai had said the decision to change the affidavit was taken at the “political level”.
He also justified his remarks on the issue of hanging of Afzal Guru. “I was part of the government (at that time). How can I distance myself from the government?” Replying to a host of questions on the affidavit issue, Chidambaram said that the second affidavit in the case was filed as the first was “ambiguous”.
He said that it was his “duty” to correct the affidavit which was drafted without his approval and was being misinterpreted.
After consultations with the Home Secretary, Director, Intelligence Bureau and other officers, the second affidavit clarified what the real intention of the central government was, he said.
“The primary concern of the central government was input gathered by central agencies. Such inputs do not constitute a conclusive proof. It is for the state government to act. Central government does not condone nor endorse any unjustified action,” he said.
When told that the Ministry of Home Affairs has sought all files in this connection, he said they are most welcome to do that.
Seeking to turn the heat on Congress, BJP has demanded a thorough probe into the alleged change of affidavits during the UPA rule in the Ishrat case and charged Chidambaram with saving the accused.
Chidambaram said the second affidavit clarified what the real intention was. “The second affidavit says the central government did not address any issue relating to the merits or otherwise of the police action,” he said adding it was essentially concerned with dealing with allegations relating to intelligence inputs which were available with the Centre.
Chidambaram insisted the primary concern of the central government is to see that inputs gathered by security agencies and the references are credible.
“It should be clear to all that such inputs do not constitute conclusive proof and it is for the state government and the state police to act on such inputs. The central government is in no way concerned with such action nor does it condone or endorse any unjustified or excessive action,” he said.
Besides, he said if on proper consideration of facts, it is found that an independent enquiry and investigation has to be carried by CBI or otherwise, the Union of India would have no objection to such a course and would abide by such order which the court may deem fit to pass.
Chidambaram, who had come under attack from BJP for his reported remarks that “perhaps Afzal Guru’s hanging was not a correct decision”, said it was possible to have an honest opinion on the issue, but it “does not become anti-national, it does not become seditious”.
When told that he was quoted as having said in an interview that he had “grave doubts” in the matter, he took a veiled dig at Pillai. “My position is position of the government. I cannot distance myself from it... That luxury is there for former civil servants and not ministers.