Congress, BJP lock horns over Ishrat Jahan affidavits

New Delhi: A war of words broke out yesterday over the alleged flip-flop on the affidavits in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, with BJP accusing the Congress of having attempted to frame Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in the sensational encounter killing and demanding a probe into the issue.

Hitting back, Congress charged the BJP with spreading flase propaganda merely to score political points and wondered if the Modi government was intervening in the case to block the prosecution of guilty policemen.

Ishrat Jahan

The trigger for the battle was the interview by R V S Mani, the then Under Secretary in the Home Ministry who had filed the two affidavits. In the interview, Mani alleged he was tortured to implicate senior IB officials in the case to project the encounter killing of Ishrat and other three LeT terrorists in Ahmedabad in 2004 as fake.

Mani suggested that Chidambaram was behind the decision to file the second affidavit. He alleged that the then SIT chief, a CBI official, was after him and an attempt was made to question the quality of professional inputs by the intelligence agencies on Ishrat and other terrorists.

It also came on a day when two former home secretaries claimed the second affidavit was filed in the Supreme Court at the behest of the then Home Minister P Chidambaram.

BJP called an emergency media briefing late in the evening and fielded Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who alleged that Chidambaram did it on the directions of the Congress high command to frame the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his ministerial colleague Amit Shah, who was then Minister of State for Home.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi accused BJP of spreading a lie about American-Pakistani terrorist David Headley and said it was very unfortunate that the ruling party was resorting to false propaganda.

"Congress has never supported or opposed the guilt issue of Ishrat Jahan if established in a court of law or any procedure known to law. If IB had intellignce inputs, Ishrat Jahan would have been prosecuted. Entire Congress stand was that irrespective of guilt, a guilty person cannot be assassinated or liquidated without due process of law which is what happened in Modi's autocratic rule in Gujarat," he said.

Insisting that India was a proud democracy where Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab face full trial upto the Supreme Court, he said police did not kill the Parliament attack convict or the 26/11 perpetrator in a fake encounter.

The point being made is that after an enquiry the matter went to the Ahmedabad metropoletan court during Modi's rule and the court's probe found that it was a fake encounter, he said. The then state government challenged it in High Court but in vain, Singhvi said.

Prasad, on the other hand, sought to question the CBI probe into the alleged fake encounter, insisting the central government machinery was abused. At a press conference at the BJP office, he cited the statements of Pillai and Mani to demand a probe. Singhvi said the affidavits only clarified that the guilt by IB was an input.

"We have nothing to do with that. If guilty, she will be punished. But the fake encounter is not permitted." He wondered if all this was being done because the Modi governemnt wanted to stop the prosecution of guilty policemen. "Is it intervening to lead to their acquittal?" Singhvi asked.

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