Congress questions attempts to ‘justify’ Ishrat Jahan encounter

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) The Congress on Thursday questioned the attempts to use Pakistani-American terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headley’s court testimony to justify the “fake” Ishrat Jahan encounter which it said were “not permissible by law”.

“The fundamental question remains whether Ishrat Jahan and her three accomplices were killed in a fake encounter in 2004. A probe into the encounter case found it to be fake,” Congress leader Manish Tewari said.

Nineteen-year-old Ishrat, a student of Khalsa College in Mumbra, was killed along with Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai from Kerala as well as two alleged Pakistanis Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana on June 15, 2004, on Ahmedabad’s outskirts for allegedly conspiring to kill the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.

“There are two separate issues concerning the encounter. First, whether Ishrat Jahan and her accomplices were Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives or not? In the light of Headley’s statement, if the government wants to investigate the matter further with regard to their credentials, there is absolutely nothing which stops it,” Tewari said.

“But the fundamental question remains: Whether Ishrat and her accomplices were killed in a fake encounter or not?” Tewari said.

The Congress leader said a metropolitan court in Ahmedabad first concluded that “it is a staged encounter – in other words – a fake encounter.”

The matter later went to the Gujarat High Court and it monitored the investigation for two years.

Tewari said after the probe was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, it also “came to the conclusion that the encounter was indeed a fake encounter”. He said the CBI had filed the charge sheet against accused police officials in a court of law.

“Therefore, if the current government or the BJP wants to use Headley’s testimony to justify an encounter which a court-monitored investigation has found to be fake, then, I am afraid, neither the law and nor jurisprudence allows it,” he said.

Tewari said even if a person is a terrorist, he needs to be arrested and needs to be brought to justice like parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

“But to try and justify a fake encounter, I am afraid, is something which the law does not permit,” the Congress leader said.

Headley said on Thursday that Ishrat Jahan was a member of the women wing of terror outfit Laskhar-e-Taiba. “Jahan was a LeT member,” Headley said while deposing before special TADA Judge A. Sanap.

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