"She was as patriotic and loved the country as much as you," said an impassioned Nusrat, the younger sister of Mumbai collegian Ishrat Jahan who was shot dead and branded a traitor by Gujarat police and whose killing has been proved to be a "fake encounter".
A day after an Ahmedabad court ruled that the killing of Ishrat Jahan, the 19-year-old college student gunned down with three of her friends in June 2004, was a "fake encounter", her family came out Tuesday to demand the sternest punishment possible for the guilty policemen.
Her younger sister Nusrat said the family knew right from the beginning that her killing in June 2004 was a "conspiracy".
"She was as patriotic and loved the country as much as you and we do. We are happy that finally the blot on our family has been erased and she has been proved innocent," the 22-year-old said.
Nusrat added that all those people who had viewed the family with suspicion had been given an appropriate answer by the Ahmedabad court verdict.
Her mother Shamima Jahan added tearfully that Ishrat's killing had branded their entire lives and affected the job and educational prospects of her six other children.
With the terrorist slur finally being removed, "our lives can come back on track", she said.
Ishrat, a resident of Mumbra suburb in Thane district, was a second year B.Sc student at Mumbai's Guru Nanak Khalsa College. Having lost her father two years before her death in 2002, she embroidered clothes and gave tuitions to help support her family of eight -- including her mother and six brothers and sisters.
On June 15, 2004, Ishrat and three of her friends, Javed Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, Amjad Ali alias Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani were gunned down by Ahmedabad Police's Crime Branch (Detection) on the outskirts of the city.
Police claimed that the four were members of a Lashkar-e-Taiba module and were on a mission to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
On Monday, that lie was nailed when an Ahmedabad court ruled that the killings were a case of "fake encounter".
Her family expressed their gratitude to the media and their team of lawyers led by Vrinda Grover and Shilpa Shah for supporting them in their darkest hours.