Congress leader P Chidambaram dismissed on Monday the BJP’s charge that he changed an affidavit linking Ishrat Jahan to the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group. He accused the government of diverting attention from the Gujarat police’s alleged extra-judicial killing in which the college student was shot dead in 2004.
Jahan’s death reverberated in the Lok Sabha with BJP parliamentarian Kirit Somaiya alleging that four documents pertaining to the case had “vanished”.
He said an affidavit authenticated and signed by Chidambaram was among the missing documents, indicating the government was planning to use the issue to corner the Congress that has been targeting the NDA for President’s rule in Uttarakhand.
Nineteen-year-old Mumbai resident Jahan and three others were killed by Gujarat Police in an alleged fake encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in 2004. The police said they were part of a plot to assassinate then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, a charge disputed by her family and activists.
The issue sprang back into the limelight last month when LeT operative David Coleman Headley said Jahan was a member of the terror group’s women’s wing.
Days later, former home secretary GK Pillai and former undersecretary in the ministry, RVS Mani, said the reference to Jahan’s LeT links were present in the first affidavit but was removed in a second affidavit on the directions of Chidambaram, who was then the home minister.
But Chidambaram denied signing any affidavit, saying only an undersecretary signed such documents.
“Real issue is whether there was fake encounter & whether four people already in custody were killed in that fake encounter,” he tweeted.
“Although I have no recollection of seeing the first affidavit, let us presume that I did. Then came the report of magistrate SP Tamang,” the former home minister said.
Ahmedabad metropolitan magistrate Tamang concluded in his inquiry report that the encounter was fake.
“This report caused an uproar & there was demand mainly from Gujarat that Government of India should clarify or dispel misinterpretation being placed in the First affidavit. That is why a second, short affidavit was filed!” said Chidambaram.
In the Lok Sabha on Monday, Somaiya alleged Jahan’s was linked to the LeT. “Who made her a martyr?” he asked.
Parliamentary affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also referred to the “shocking revelations” in the case including the “doctoring and changes done in the affidavits”.
“If the Opposition wants to discuss the case, the government has no problem. But the speaker has made the position clear that matters that are sub-judice cannot be discussed. “It all depends on the speaker”, he added.
The BJP recently dragged Congress president Sonia Gandhi into the Jahan controversy, alleging that Chidambaram was acting on her directions when he filed a second affidavit to create roadblocks in Modi’s path to becoming PM.
On Sunday, the Congress hit back, citing the CBI’s 2013 chargesheet in the case and saying a Gujarat Police officer’s testimony showed the encounter had the approval of Modi and Amit Shah, then minister of state (home).