New Delhi, July 6: The Congress and the establishment it leads look to be in a spot even as they started to feel that rival Narendra Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat, could be cornered over the Ishrat Jahan 'fake encounter' case.
Following reports that Pakistani-American Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative David Coleman Headley, who was involved in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, had said that Ishrat was a terrorist and also a suicide bomber, senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh asked the home ministry to clarify Headley's words on Ishrat.
The ministry on Friday asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to provide the details of Headley's recorded statements. NIA Director General N R Wasan is said to have submitted a report concerning the same to Home Secretary Anil Goswami.
An affidavit submitted by the home ministry had termed Ishrat Jahan a 'terrorist' in 2009 and political observers have felt baffled about its flip-flop on Ishrat's exact identity after the CBI filed its chargesheet on July 3.
The Intelligence Bureau (IB), which has been at the receiving end of the CBI's witch-hunting after one of its top official, Rajinder Kumar, was accused of being involved in the case, has cited a FBI report and Headley's statement to defend Kumar.
Headly had reportedly told the NIA and FBI that LeT leader Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi had told him in 2005 about an unsuccessful terror design in India which had involved Ishrat and three other men. All of them were killed in June 2004 on th outskirts of Ahmedabad.
While the police said the group was planning to assassinate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the CBI said the men accompanying Ishrat, Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Shaikh, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, had alleged terror links and were planning to attack Ahmedabad and not Modi. It was also indicated that Ishrat was allegedly being used as a shield.
The CBI said that the encounter of June 15, 2004, was a fake one and was an operation jointly carried out by the Gujarat police and Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau.
Meanwhile, the NIA termed Headley's words as "hearsay" and said that it did not probe into the aspect too much. The agency has maintained silence on why it did not include Headley's reference to Ishrat in its statement. Wasan also reportedly evaded questions on the matter, saying the NIA could not share the details.
Earlier, Digvijay Singh met Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and sought an explanation on whether Headley indeed had spoken about Ishrat's terror links.
He said each of the investigative agencies were singing in different tunes and there should be a clarity in this. He also advised to explore the media sources, saying the entire episode was creating panic.
Opposition BJP has also lashed out at the UPA government for allegedly trying to corner Modi at the expense of belittling institutions like the IB and playing one investigative agency against another. The party has backed Singh's demand of an explanation, besides asking for the reason behind the home ministry's change of position on Ishrat's identity.