CBI says Ishrat was killed in fake ‘encounter’ (Roundup)

Ahmedabad, July 3 (IANS) Nine years after Ishrat Jahan was shot dead by Gujarat Police in an alleged shootout, the CBI Wednesday filed a chargesheet here naming at least six policemen as accused.

While indicating that Ishrat, 19, who lived in Thane, was not a terrorist as alleged, the chargesheet named policemen P.P. Pande, A. Choudhary, D.G. Vanzare, Tarun Barot, J.R. Parmar, Bharat Patel and N.K. Amin among the accused.

They were charged with murder, abduction, conspiracy and destruction of evidence and other charges as per the chargesheet filed by Assistant Commissioner of Police P. Rathod before the Special POTA Court.

Declaring that the encounter was ‘fake’, the 1,500-plus page chargesheet stated that three others killed in the same gun battle of June 15, 2004 allegedly harboured terror links.

Welcoming the chargesheet, Ishrat’s family said in Mumbai that they have been “vindicated” after struggling for justice for nine years.

“We have got justice after so many years. All allegations against Ishrat have been proved false. We are happy that the CBI states she was not a terrorist. Now we demand the severest punishment to all the accused, this is our appeal. We have suffered a lot all these years,” said a composed Musharat, sister of the late Ishrat.

Petitioner and Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kauser said in an emotional voice that she had been insisting for the past nine years that her daughter was innocent and killed in cold blood.

Extending sympathy to the family was Nationalist Congress Party state working president Jitendra Awhad, who hails from Thane.

Ahwad said: “People don’t know how the entire family was destroyed in the wake of the allegations against Ishrat.

“Her sister could not complete her education, her brother could not get a job anywhere, the family was ostracized and had to make monumental efforts just to survive,” he said.

The CBI chargesheet added that Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Shaikh, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were allegedly planning terror attacks in Ahmedabad.

The CBI said Pillai was allegedly using Ishrat, a college student in Mumbai, as a shield for his activities.

Her family’s breadwinner, Ishrat hailed from the middle-class Muslim-dominated Mumbra town of Thane, barely 30 km north of Mumbai.

Contrary to expectations, no politician has been named in the chargesheet. The CBI plans to file a supplementary document (chargesheet) within a month.

In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal told reporters: “If the CBI chargesheet says the encounter was fake, it shows it. We want the law to take its own course and the culprits should be brought to book.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party accused the CBI of underplaying the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba’s role and accused the central government of playing with the nation’s security.

“The CBI chargesheet underplays the role of LeT, and certainly indicts the Indian security apparatus,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters.

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