"She was no terrorist! Gujarat Police butchered her in cold blood and show no remorse!" A furious Shemima Kausar and her daughter Nusarrat are determined to restore the honour of their own Ishrat Jahan, shot dead in June 2004 on charges of being a terrorist.
"We have been waiting for justice for so long. We know she was never in the wrong. My aapa (sister) was innocent. We want her name to be cleared and all those involved in the frame up to be punished," Nusarrat, younger sister of Ishrat, said in an interview in New Delhi.
With renewed hope and only memories of Ishrat left, after the local police ransacked and took away all her belongings from their home in Mumbra in Maharashtra's Thane district in 2004, Ishrat's mother and daughter came to the national capital late on Tuesday to take their fight for justice further.
Aided by human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover, they hope to file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Gujarat High Court's stay order on the metropolitan magistrate court's report that the so-called gun battle or "encounter" in which Ishrat died was staged by the police.
Shemima Kausar, Ishrat's mother, broke down as she recalled to IANS her daughter's fate.
"We are not satisfied. We have no expectations from the Gujarat High Court. We firmly feel that justice will be delivered and truth will be known. When that happens, all those involved in this frame-up should be punished - not with something as simple as death sentence but with a punishment that reminds them of my daughter and family's agony."
For years, Ishrat's family struggled to face the world after she was killed along with three Muslim men, all of whom were linked to a terrorist group supposedly out to create mayhem in Gujarat.
When Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate S.P. Tamang declared that Ishrat and the three others were gunned down in cold blood by Ahmedabad police's Crime Branch in a "fake encounter", the family thought they had finally won the long and painful battle.
According to Tamang's 240-page report, Ishrat, Javed Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, Amjad Ali alias Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani were not linked to any terror group out to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi - as the Gujarat police had claimed.
The report also pointed out that although the police maintained that she was killed on June 15, medical autopsy showed she died a day earlier. Ishrat, a college student, was from Mumbra in Thane.
Clutching an Urdu newspaper clipping about Ishrat's funeral that was attended by around 200,000 people, Nussarat says, "There is support back home, but people fear that interacting with us may bring them under the police radar and they want to avoid that."
After the Gujarat Police reiterated that Ishrat was indeed a terrorist, mother Shemima is naturally worried.
"The incident destroyed my family. I worry for my six kids' future. Their education is incomplete since income wasn't available. We were shunned by the society. My son didn't get a job and was told it was because he was a terrorist. My eldest girl is 25 and proposals for marriage do not come.
"My Ishrat was my support. She was only trying to do some summer job as a sales girl. She used to always say that bad times will get over soon. I pray this comes true now," added the sobbing widow.
Nusarrat had hoped to study law or become a teacher.
"Aapa told me that I should join her college in Mumbai. Then she was killed. Since then it has been a fight for survival for all of us. There was a time when we couldn't eat for days."
Their lawyer Grover feels it is high time innocent people like Ishrat stop becoming scapegoats for "political patronage".
"The Gujarat government is using the premise of intelligence input as alibi (to justify her killing)," Grover told IANS. "There have been a spate of encounters in Gujarat... The scene there is serious. An external agency like CBI has to intervene and conduct an independent inquiry."