New Delhi: Former Home secretary GK Pillai has said that he would give the benefit of doubt to Ishrat Jahan, the 19-year-old Mumbai college student who has been alleged to be part of terror group Lashkar-e-Toiba's mission to eliminate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, since her name was not mentioned in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) report.
"The chargesheet has been filed in the court. Let the court decide. To the best of my knowledge, there is no mention of Ishrat Jahan in the NIA report. There is no conclusive proof on Ishrat Jahan, so I will give her the benefit of doubt," said Pillai
The Congress appears to be a divided house on Ishrat Jahan. Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has been avoiding comment on her alleged links with terrorists. Shinde says the USA's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shared interrogation report of Lashkar-e-Toiba operative and 26/11 Mumbai attacks convict David Coleman Headley with the NIA, but he was bound by confidentiality agreement.
"I have not seen the reports. Whatever Headley has said, was recorded by the FBI and there is a MoU between the FBI and NIA under which I can't disclose any further details," said Shinde. Earlier, Congress General Secretary and spokesperson Digvijaya Singh had asked the Home Ministry to set the record straight on whether Ishrat was involved in terror related activities as claimed by Headley.
The Home Ministry had submitted two contrasting affidavits on Ishrat's alleged terror links between 2009 and 2012. There is also confusion on a leaked portion of an NIA report submitted to the Home Ministry on whether Ishrat knew other alleged terrorists and their involvement in terror related activities.
On June 15, 2004 Ishrat Jahan and three others were killed in an encounter near Ahmedabad. Police claim they were members of the Pakistan-based LeT on a mission to kill Modi. The encounter killings of four people Ishrat and three men - Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar took place on an empty road stretch between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar in Gujarat. On June 11, 2004, Ishrat left for Nashik with Javed. It's not known how she came to Gujarat on June 15.
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chargesheet filed in an Ahmedabad court on July 3, the four were killed in a fake encounter. According to the chargesheet Ishrat Jahan and three others were kept in illegal confinement, put on tranquilizer before they were killed in cold blood on June 15, 2004.
The CBI chargesheet says the agency has evidence to prove that the four were illegally detained and later killed in cold blood. But the CBI chargesheet does not mention whether Ishrat and others were terrorists or not.