Bjp, Congress spar over Ishrat affidavits
In a major attack on the Congress leadership, BJP has alleged that Home Minister in UPA II government P Chidambaram misused office to frame the then Gujarat chief Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of State in his government Amit Shah in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.
Addressing media soon after television channels went on air with the interview of former Home Ministry bureaucrat RVS Mani on Tuesday, senior BJP leader and Communication Minister Ravi Shanker Prasad said it was bewildering that an officer of impeccable integrity was tortured to sign on a changed affidavit. “There was a consistent campaign that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah must be framed,” the BJP leader pointed out.
BJP accused Chidambaram of behaving in an irresponsible manner and using his office to settle political scores. Mani went public with the allegations that, “SIT chief Satish Verma was engineering evidence. So many officers, people chased me. In June 2013, I was burnt with cigarettes.” On why did he sign on the affidavit, Mani said, “Was ordered to sign file, so did it. Was told it was order of government.”
Addressing mediapersons at the BJP headquarters Prasad said, “On behalf of the BJP, we demand from the government that a fair probe be done in this whole flip-flop. I ask as to why the affidavit was changed, for what purpose it was changed and who was pressurising whom?” Casting aspersions on the Congress high command Prasad said that perhaps Chidambaram was not acting on his own.
“Chidambaram was not acting on his own. He was following order of Congress party’s top high command,” Prasad said. “The former home minister must be probed but also other top Congress leaders must be probed. Did Congress party because of their political enmity compromise with the security of the nation? I am talking on behalf of my party,” he said. “Were you questioning NIA, IB and RAW just to lay a trap for Narendra Modi and Amit Shah?” Prasad asked Chidambaram.
The revelation by Mani has come after former home secretary GK Pillai accused Chidambaram of changing the second affidavit in the case. Pillai on Sunday had claimed that as home minister during UPA government, Chidambaram had recalled the file a month after the original affidavit, which described Ishrat and her slain aides as LeT operatives, was filed in Supreme Court.
“Only after the affidavit was revised, as directed by the minister, did the file come to me,” Pillai is quoted as saying in a media report. The then UPA government had submitted two affidavits - one that the four, who were killed in an alleged fake encounter, were terrorists and the second saying there was no conclusive evidence - within two months in 2009.
Chidambaram on Monday had said the second affidavit in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case was “absolutely correct” and as minister then “I accept the responsibility.” Chidambaram had also expressed disappointment over Pillai distancing himself from the affidavit issue despite being “equally responsible.”
Reacting to the BJP’s demand for probing the role of Congress high command, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “The Congress party has never run away from the process of law. We believe in holding a person guilty, be it Afzal Guru or Kasab, after following due process of law and not the way instant justice was handed out in Gujarat ruled autocratically by Narendra Modi.”
Meanwhile, in a related development, Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a plea seeking quashing of criminal prosecution, suspension and other actions taken against Gujarat cops in the 2004 alleged fake encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan in view of recent testimony of jailed LeT operative David Headley. The Pakistani-American terrorist- Headley had told a Mumbai court that Ishrat Jahan was a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative.
Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an encounter with Gujarat Police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. The city crime branch had then said that those killed in the encounters were LeT terrorists and had landed in Gujarat to kill the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.