Ishrat Jahan encounter - P Chidambaram needs to answer these questions

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New Delhi, Feb 29: Ever since David Headley stated before a court in Mumbai that Ishrat Jahan was a Lashkar-e-Tayiba operative, there have been a spate of statements on this issue.

The statements made by former Home Secretary G K Pillai are not only mind boggling, but also shows the mindset of the previous government who appeared hell bent on trying to prove that the encounter in which Ishrat and three others were killed at Gujarat was fake.

Ishrat Jahan

Take for instance, the affidavits filed by the union government before the Gujarat High Court on this issue.

Both the affidavits filed run contrary and none can explain this better than the then home minister P Chidambaram. The first affidavit filed in August 2009 states that Ishrat and three others were part of a sleeper cell of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba. The next affidavit filed exactly a month later states that the inputs were not conclusive proof that those killed in the encounter had terror links.

A tale of two affidavits:

It is still not clear why the union government decided to take such a stand on this issue. Some officers in the Intelligence Bureau say that the intention was to target the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi and make it look like his government had ordered a fake encounter. Taking it a step further the then union government even stated in the High Court that there was no conclusive evidence to suggest that those killed in the encounter had terror links.

The September 2009 affidavit, which ran contrary to the one filed in August also states that the central government is no way concerned with with such action and also does not condone, endorse any excessive action.

Questions for Chidambaram:

Pillai says that it was Chidambaram who dictated the revised affidavit. There was never any discussion on the issue with the home ministry officials, Pillai also said. In this context one has to pose several questions for the former home minister.

Why was the affidavit revised? Did the inputs by the intelligence bureau which had first claimed that Ishrat and others were terrorists change after the encounter. Several officials part of the intelligence bureau say that the inputs always remained the same.

What does Chidambaram have to say about the claim by the online magazine of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba which termed her as a martyr, following the encounter. When David Headley stated to the National Investigation Agency that Ishrat was a suicide bomber in the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, why was the agency told not to probe this angle. The NIA had said at that time that it was not part of their brief while it is quite a well known fact that the Ishrat angle was ordered not to be looked into.

Why were the higher officials in the Home Ministry including the home secretary left out of the discussion when the affidavit was being revised? Why were only junior officials of the Intelligence Bureau called in for the meeting before the affidavit was revised.

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