Ishrat Jahan case: Chidambaram says NDA creating controversy, Rijiju hits back (Intro Roundup)

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Former Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, accusing the NDA government of creating a “fake controversy” around the affidavits in Ishrat Jahan case, on Thursday said that news report published in an English daily “completely vindicates” the position he had taken but Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju hit back, saying “unfortunate steps” were taken then.

Home Ministry official B.K. Prasad, who was probing the missing documents in the Ishrat Jahan case, however, dismissed the charge that he tutored a witness as was claimed by the Indian Express news report that Chidambaram cited, but the Congress supported Chidambaram, saying the one-man committee report that has come in public domain was a “farce”.

“The news report published in the Indian Express today (Thursday) comprehensively exposes the fake controversy created by the NDA government on the two affidavits filed by the central government in the Ishrat Jahan case,” Chidambaram said in a statement.

The former minister also said that he takes “full responsibility” for filing the “further affidavit” which was “absolutely the correct thing to do”.

“The moral of the story is that even a doctored report (of the Inquiry Officer) cannot hide the truth. The real issue is whether Ishrat Jahan and three others were killed in a genuine encounter or a fake encounter. Only the trial of the case, pending since July 2013, will bring out the truth,” he added.

Reacting to the statement, Rijiju said: “The intention was clear as to why a hardcore terrorist was declared innocent in an affidavit. It is clearly perceptible here. Unfortunate steps were taken by the UPA government, particularly during Chidambaram’s time. We will see what is to be done next.”

Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the “missing documents” of the Ishrat Jahan case amounted to “anti-national activity” and those involved will be punished.

“All efforts are being made (to find out the truth about the missing papers). It’s a criminal conspiracy and an anti-national activity. Anyone involved will not be allowed to go scot free,” he told reporters.

Denying the claims of “tutoring”, Prasad, in a statement, said: “All officers inquired by me are or have been senior officers in the government, and are fully capable of answering questions relating to the probe on their own and there is no question of the alleged ‘tutoring’.”

Prasad’s assertion comes a day after the one-man inquiry committee which he headed submitted its report on untraceable documents in the Ishrat Jahan case.

A report in the Indian Express said Prasad tutored a witness on what answers he should give during the examination.

According to the report, a call by the Indian Express to Prasad was put on hold while he was having conversation on another telephone regarding the missing papers probe.

The report said it was evident from the conversation that Prasad was speaking to an officer who was scheduled to give his statement to the probe committee, and it was later found that the officer was Ashok Kumar, a Joint Secretary in Parliament’s Hindi Division and nodal officer for monitoring the court cases in the Department of Commerce.

Prasad, however, denied the report and said that it was “unethical” to record his call without his permission.

“No evidence has been produced establishing that Mr Ashok Kumar testified being ‘tutored’ during my alleged conversation,” he said in the statement.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Anand Sharma said: “It was a fixed exercise. This entire drama was enacted.”



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