Mumbai, Feb 12: Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today alleged that Congress wanted to "implicate" the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and "harass" present party president Amit Shah in the Ishrat Jehan encounter case, and said the party should "openly regret" its actions.
Mr Naidu's comments come in wake of Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley's revelation yesterday before a Mumbai court that Ishrat, the 19-year-old girl from Mumbra near Mumbai, was actually a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative.
"Unfortunately, the earlier government tried to harass BJP leaders. They wanted to implicate the CM at that time and they've harassed my party president. Now, the truth has come out, they must realise their mistake and openly express regret for what they've done," he told reporters in Mumbai.
Charging Congress with playing politics on a critical issue like national security, Mr Naidu said it is unfortunate that "some people" have more confidence in Ishrat Jehan than the facts which are coming out.
"It's a fact that these terrorists are being helped by some Indian people also. Without local cooperation, things will not happen," the senior BJP leader said on the sidelines of the annual Nasscom India Leadership Forum in Mumbai.
On questions being raised over how much importance one should attach to the statements of Headley, a double agent now under arrest, Mr Naidu said the revelations have been done before a court and have evidential value now.
"(When he says) whatever suits them, then he is credible. When it doesn't, he's not credible. Leave it to the courts. Evidence has come now for the first time," he said.
Mr Naidu said his government is all for taking strong action on matters of national security, but blamed certain people for diverting attention by bringing religion into the picture.
It is unfortunate that some people support hanged terrorists like Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon, he said.
Four persons -- Ishrat Jehan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar - were killed in an encounter with Gujarat Police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.
The city crime branch had then said that those killed in the encounters were LeT terrorists and had landed in Gujarat to kill then Chief Minister Modi.
CBI, which took over the probe from the Gujarat High Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), had filed a chargesheet in August 2013, saying that the encounter was fake and executed in joint operation by the city crime branch and Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB).