Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram has defended the central government's affidavit on the controversial killing of Mumbai girl Ishrat Jahan and three others in an alleged fake shootout saying it was "not evidence or conclusive proof".
"What is wrong with the affidavit? To the best of my knowledge the affidavit says that intelligence inputs were shared with the Gujarat government," Chidambaram told reporters in Washington on Thursday after meeting the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
He said the affidavit "must be read in context".
Chidambaram was replying to a question about the home ministry's viewpoint following a magisterial inquiry in Gujarat that said Ishrat Jahan and three others were not terrorists and had been killed by police officials in cold blood in 2005.
"You cannot read into it what it does not say. I think it is self-evident that intelligence inputs are not evidence, much less conclusive proof. They are just inputs. They are shared with governments on a regular basis. That is not evidence or conclusive proof. It gives leads to investigations and further enquiry," he stated.
Ishrat, a college student, and her friends Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Shaikh, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were shot dead by the Ahmedabad police's Crime Branch on the outskirts of the Gujarat city June 15, 2004. Police said they were Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists and were conspiring to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The Indian home ministry had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, maintaining that the four had links with the LeT.
Ahmedabad's metropolitan magistrate SP Tamang's probe report released on Monday asserted there was no shootout between the four and the police. The report said the four were students and had been kidnapped from Mumbai on June 12, 2004, and killed two days later.
Chidambaram said, "If a state government acts as though intelligence inputs are evidence or conclusive proof, I am sorry for that government. Certainly no one suggested that based on an intelligence input you should kill someone.
"I think too much is being attributed to that affidavit... if it is meant to defend the government of Gujarat against the excesses that may have been committed by its police. I am sorry for the government of Gujarat and the manner in which it runs its police administration," he said while speaking out for the first time on the controversial affidavit.