Let Ishrat’s case be the last fake encounter, at least

Ishrat's sisters Nuzhat and Zeenat
Ishrat's sisters Nuzhat and Zeenat

I am with Ishrat’s family. You too may follow me.

Spare a moment to think about her family members who today find themselves isolated and socially ostracized for a crime their beautiful Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old college girl, may or may not have committed. Ishrat cannot come back now. She’s dead. She cannot tell her story. She cannot defend herself. She has been wrongly branded a terrorist, without any evidence or a trial. She was not even questioned.

According to fellow journalist Pritish Nandy: “It’s tragic. Worse, it’s criminal. In any case, she committed no crime. She was killed by the police on the suspicion that she may commit a crime.”

Amazing!

The country just saw a storm on Sept.7, 2009 when Ahmedabad magistrate S P Tamang ruled that the incident in which Ishrat and three others were killed in June 2004 was a “fake encounter”. Tamang named top gun D G Vanzara as accused in the “cold blooded murder” of the four.

We know that Vanzara and some other policemen are already in jail in connection with the much publicized Sohrabuddin killing case, in which the Gujarat government had been asked to pay compensation by the Supreme Court.

ishrat 1Stating that Ishrat and three others were killed in a fake encounter by the police for personal interests, promotions and appreciations, Tamang appended a list of top police officers running into about two pages who he held responsible for the fake encounter. Tamang report said the police “kidnapped” Ishrat and three others from Mumbai on June 12, 2004 and brought them to Ahmedabad. The four were killed on the night of June 14 in police custody, but the police claimed that an “encounter” took place on the morning of June 15 near Kotarpur water works on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. It said the explosives, rifles, and other weapons allegedly found in their car were all “planted” by the police after the encounter.

The police had earlier claimed that Ishrat, a resident of Mumbra near Mumbai, and three others — Javed Sheikh, a convert son of Gopinath Pillai of Kerala and two Pakistani citizens Amzad Ali Rana and Jishan Jauhar — were connected with Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and were coming to Gujarat to assassinate chief minister Narendra Modi to avenge the 2002 communal riots.

Immediately after the Tamang report, political parties jumped in slamming the Gujarat government. But Modi quickly rejected the report and on Sept.9, 2009, the Gujarat High Court stayed the controversial report.

On a visit to US, Home Minister P Chidambaram said that the Gujarat Government could not justify the killings. “Certainly no one suggested that based on an intelligence input you should kill someone. If a state government acts as though intelligence inputs are evidence or conclusive proof I am sorry for that government.”

Incidentally, the Indian government’s affidavit filed in the Gujarat High Court confirmed that Ishrat Jahan, her partner Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai and two others killed in the 2004 encounter had links with the LeT.

But the Home Minstry is now clarifying that it had just passed on to the Gujarat government the information regarding Ishrat’s association with LeT. As regards the subsequent action taken by the Gujarat police on the inputs, which were obviously not conclusive proof, the Union home secretary clarified that the Centre could in no way be held accountable for the same.

The BJP has taken strong objection to Home Minister P Chidambaram’s remarks on the encounter deaths and said the Home Minister’s remarks were uncharitable, irresponsible and politically motivated.

In view of the above facts and circumstances, it is clear that there is something annoying and frustrating about the way in which the Congress and the BJP are playing politics with the encounter that resulted in the death of 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan and three of her companions in Gujarat.

ishrat 3“The point is that we will never know whether they were terrorists. The killings made it impossible for their guilt or innocence to be established in a court of law,” wrote senior journalist Vir Sanghvi in The Hindustan Times on Sept.12, 2009. “Are we prepared to live with the situation where a policeman is prosecutor, judge and executioner?”

Sanghvi has a point.

Ishrat Jahan and three others or Sohrabuddin were not killed in cold blood in Gujarat merely because Narendra Modi is the chief minister there.

Who would dispute that over the years, our trigger-happy police have self-acquired the licence to kill virtually anybody.

Terror suspects are eliminated throughout India, with thrill and conviction. Tell me thus one thing: Does a civilized nation like ours really need encounter killings by the State?

Still, I can switch sides if anyone would tell me what was Ishrat’s plan to eliminate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi! SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

15 comments

  1. Maharashtra election: A parallel battle in Mumbra
    LiveMint.com
    Posted by Ruhi Tewari on Monday, October 19, 2009

    The current high-pitched political battle in Maharashtra will reach its end on Thursday, 22 October when votes polled in the state’s assembly election would be counted. However, another currently in the background yet significant battle is being fought in Mumbra – a small town in the fringes of Mumbai.

    The people of Mumbra say they are battling the unjustified and unfortunate tag of being a “terrorist hub” that has been “forced on the town by political parties and media alike.”
    They are also still fighting for justice for Ishrat Jahan, a 19 year old from this town who (along with three others) was gunned down in an “encounter” by the Detection of Crime Branch of Ahmedabad Police on the outskirts of the city, in June 2004. However, according to a judicial probe into the encounter that submitted its report last month, the encounter “was fake and executed in cold blood”.

    “Well, what do we say about elections? We have our own battles to win. One is the fight for justice for Ishrat. The other one is getting rid of the label of being the hub of terrorism,” said a shop-owner in a busy market area of the town. He did not wish to be identified, a desire common to most people in the town.

    A group of people gathered at the shop nod vehemently, as more people start pouring in to take part in the discussion.

    They all have one common grudge. “Just because this town is predominantly Muslim, vested interests have spread the belief that it is the hub of extremist and terrorist activities. But it is all completely untrue. Go talk to as many people as you can in the town and you will see we are all normal, peace loving individuals. As for anti social elements, which town or city in this country is completely devoid of them?” said another shopkeeper, adding that the “media had amply contributed to the unwarranted impression of the town”.

    Almost 90% of the population in Mumbra is Muslim.

    People there claim political parties pay no attention to the discrimination the town faces and its lack of basic amenities. There is no government hospital in the town and its residents have to make do with just a dispensary. According to them, some political parties paid lip service to the fight for Ishrat initially but then forgot all about it.

    “With elections around the corner, even the most unlikely candidates try to appease us. Ironically, the Shiv Sena candidate here campaigns with his party flag in one hand and a green flag or wrist band in the other,” said someone from the crowd gathered there.

    So while political parties in the state battle it out electorally for the top spot, a small town in that very state fights a completely different battle – a battle for a fresh, untainted identity, a fair space in the social polity and justice for those wronged.

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    • It is so easy to blame intelligence agencies that their failure causes so many deaths, but when it comes to believing top most intelligence agency IB, we have no shame in playing politics. You cannot have national security when terrorists have no inhibitions using women and children as shields but IB is lectured on ethics. All those who talk so much about Ishrat’s family,,,think of families of those who died in terror attacks and those security personnel who sacrifice their life fighting terrorists. Naked fact of Ishrat is she was intimated to be terrorist by IB. That is official, rest is all politics.

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