REMEMBER Ishrat Jahan? She was killed in 2004 in a police encounter by the Gujarat police. Ishrat Jahan Raza, a Mumbai resident, was a B. Sc student. She and boyfriend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, were picked up by Ahmadabad police from Mumbai on 12-06-2004. On June 14, police claimed the duo, along with two “Pakistani” nationals – Rajkumar Rana and Jishan Johar – had been killed in an encounter after a car chase led by IPS officer DG Vanzara. Ishrat and the others, cops claimed, were LeT terrorists out to kill the Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. This was disputed by Ishrat’s family. They challenged the police version in the Gujarat High Court. In her petition to the Gujarat High Court, Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kausar disputed the version of the Gujarat police as well as the Centre, claiming that her daughter was a saleswoman working for Javed Sheikh who dealt in perfumes. Javed’s father told the court that his son was innocent and sought a central probe. Both Gujarat police and Centre pointed to infirmities in their version. Centre told Gujarat HC that Javed had been recruited by LeT when he was in Dubai. Gopinath Pillai had not disclosed criminal cases pending against his son, or the fact that he had obtained a different passport using his original name even though the one issued to him was still valid. The Centre also disputed the claim of Gopinath Pillai, supported by Ishrat’s mother, that he was in the business of perfumes and that this required him and Ishrat to travel across the country.
A lot of hue and cry was made by the pseudo-secularist leaders backed by some electronic channels how an innocent girl was framed and killed by the Gujarat police in cold blood. Ishrat and Javed were killed along with two Pakistani nationals – Amjad Ali and Jishan Johar Abdul Ghani – both alleged LeT terrorists, on June 15, 2004. According to the police version, they were intercepted on the outskirts of Ahmedabad when they were about to enter the city in a blue Indica on a mission to eliminate chief minister Narendra Modi. Lashkar had owned up Ishrat immediately after the encounter, with its Lahore-based mouthpiece Ghazwa Times describing her as an LeT activist and taking offense at the action of Indian cops in removing her veil. In 2007, however, Lashkar, in its fresh incarnation as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, disowned her, by issuing an apology to Ishrat’s family for calling her an LeT cadre.
Recently in a major breakthrough the National Investigation Agency (NIA) officers have succeeded in getting a confession from Mumbai 26/11 terror attack plotter David Coleman, presently in Chicago police custody. Headley has revealed during interrogation by National Investigation Agency sleuths that Ishrat Jahan, gunned down by Gujarat cops in a controversial 2004 encounter, was in fact a Lashkar-e-Toiba operative. Headley said that Ishrat, a resident of Mumbai in Thane, was recruited by top LeT commander Muzammil who was in-charge of LeT’s operations in India till 2007. Incidentally Headley’s visits to India for reconnaissance missions for Lashkar started in 2006 when Muzammil was LeT’s chief commander in India.
The statement corroborates the version of Gujarat police and the Centre in what has turned into a controversial case because of doubts created by the pseudo secularist’s about the veracity of the police version. Headley’s statement tallies with claim of Gujarat cops and the Centre that Muzammil had sent Ishrat and her accomplices on a terror mission as part of LeT’s plan to attack the surrounding area and target VIPs. Importantly, Headley’s account underlines his importance as a repository of crucial information on Lashkar and its plans on India. His statement to the NIA team that LeT founder Hafiz Saeed was engaged with the 26/11 attackers all through the plot has reinforced India’s demand that Pakistan should take action against the Lashkar chief. Sources described the information given by the Pakistani American terrorist as “vital inputs”.
Now with David Headley’s confession I wonder what the pysdo-secularists and their favourite “his masters voice” channels have to say? Probably they will say that Headley’s statement is not reliable or that NIA officers have not given the correct interpretation.
(The writer is editor of Vir Arjun and Pratap)