Government orders probe into how Ishrat case files went missing

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New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) The government on Monday set up a high-level official probe panel to conduct an “internal inquiry” how files concerning the affidavits filed in the Ishrat Jahan case have gone missing, informed sources said.

The probe has been “necessitated” after files went missing amid claims from former key home ministry officials including a former home secretary G.K. Pillai that political pressure was applied in the case in 2009, said the sources,

Among other important papers, one from the Pillai to the then attorney general G.E. Vahanvati also went missing, sources said.

Similarly, another paper from the then attorney general’s desk also went missing, they said.

The probe team, headed by Additional Secretary, Home, B. K. Prasad, will try to find out how the files concerning the “draft of the second and revised affidavit” filed in the case went missing, sources said.

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“The internal probe will also probe the entire chain of file movements in the home ministry in 2009,” a source told IANS.

Last week, Rajnath Singh had announced in the Lok Sabha that an internal inquiry will be done in this regard.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and home ministry officials had alleged recently that the UPA government did a flip flop over the controversial 2004 shootout in which Ishrat, then a student of a Mumbai college and allegedly a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative, was killed.

The home minister last week accused the Congress-led UPA government of hatching a conspiracy to malign the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and his government.

Singh also alleged that the previous government had tried to give a political and communal colour to terrorism.

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“Saffron terror was the previous government’s term. Colour, creed and religion are not linked to terrorism. They gave a communal colour to terrorism,” he had said in the Lok Sabha.

The controversy over the case flared up after David Headley, a Lashkar operative, made the startling claim on February 11 this year about the 2004 Gujarat shootout that Ishrat was a Lashkar operative.

R.V.S. Mani, a former under secretary in the ministry, had told the media that he was pressurised to file the second or revised affidavit in the Supreme Court as against the first affidavit in which Ishrat Jahan was named a LeT operative.

Pillai had also claimed that there was “political interference” in the case which led to the deletion of reference to LeT from the revised affidavit filed in 2009.

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On March 10, the home minister had told the Lok Sabha that “two letters from the then home secretary to the attorney general in 2009 have gone missing. The then attorney general had vetted two affidavits regarding the case. Those are also not available.”

Ishrat, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an shootout with Gujarat Police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

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