Who was Ishrat?
Ishrat Jahan was a 19-year-old second-year Science student of Guru Nanak Khalsa College at King’s Circle. She was the second of seven
The family, who live in Rashid Compound in the Muslim-dominated Mumbra area in Thane
district, are originally from Bihar.
Ishrat, who lost her father two years before the encounter, gave tuitions and did embroidery work to support the family.
Ishrat Jahan, Javed Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, Amjad Ali alias Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani were gunned down by the Ahmedabad police on the
outskirts of that city, on June 15, 2004.
The Gujarat police had claimed that the four were linked to terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and were planning to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The police team was led by then Deputy Commissioner of Police D.G. Vanzara, who is currently in jail in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.
Though Ishrat’s family insisted that she was innocent, the police alleged that she knew Javed. Ishrat had left her house on June 12, three days before she was killed.
The case stirred up a hornet’s nest as politicians and the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission demanding an inquiry into the incident.
The Maharashtra police could not find anything that could implicate Ishrat.
The Gujarat High Court formed a Special Investigation Team to probe the case. In August, the Gujarat High Court ordered a three-member committee of top police officers, led by state Additional Director General of Police Pramod Kumar, to investigate the encounter following a petition filed by Ishrat’s mother, Shamima.
“We are very happy that finally Ishrat’s innocence has been proved. This is the first step towards justice. We have been saying that it was a fake encounter and that Ishrat was murdered,” said her sister Mus-arrat Jahan (22), who works as a receptionist at a hotel.
Ishrat, Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, Amjad Ali alias Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana, and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani were gunned down by the Ahmedabad police on the outskirts of that city on June 15, 2004. The police had claimed the four were Lashkar-e-Tayyeba terrorists out to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The police team was led by Deputy Commissioner of Police DG Vanzara, who is currently in jail in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.
Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kausar (45) said: “ We want justice. We want to remove the stain of my daughter being branded a terrorist. We had to suffer a lot these five years. I’ll keep fighting till we get justice. It was a double tragedy as I had lost my daughter and she was branded a terrorist.”
Shamima said she first heard of Ishrat’s death when a TV channel announced on June 15, 2004, that she had died in an encounter. “ I did not even know what an encounter was then.”
The last time Shamima saw her 19-year-old daughter, a second-year Science student of Guru Nanak Khalsa College, was when she left home on June 11, 2004, saying she was going to Nashik for a job.
Ishrat called later in the day to say she had reached Nashik and that she would call later.
In the five years since her death, the family that lives in Rashid Compound in the Muslim-dominated Mumbra area, has struggled to survive.
Shamima said the allegation against Ishrat meant her siblings found it difficult to get jobs. The family’s eldest daughter Zeenat Jahan (25) does not work and is not married.
Ishrat’s brother Anwar Iqbal (21) teaches at a computer coaching centre in Mumbra. He said he could not get jobs outside the locality. “I want all those responsible for her death to be punished,” he said.
The three youngest children of the family are still students. Nuzhat (19) is in first-year of college while Nusrat (17) attends junior college. The baby of the family, Amanullah (13), does not attend school but plans to appear for the exams privately.
On Monday, they were all at home facing TV cameras and offering sweets to wellwishers.