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Ishrat case: Govt for new probe

Ishrat case: Govt for new probe

Author: Uday Mahurkar
Publication: India Today
Date: October 1, 2009
URL: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/Story/64387/LATEST%20NEWS/Ishrat+case:+Govt+for+new+probe+++.html

In what is seen as a major blow to the customary Centre-State cooperation on issues to do with national security and a shot in the arm of the forces of disintegration in the country the UPA-led government has done a shameful about-turn in the Gujarat High Court on the famous Ishrat Jahan encounter case and said that it had no objection to the court ordering a CBI inquiry in the case, thus setting aside its earlier stand in the court that there was no ground for CBI probe in the case.

The Centre's old affidavit that it had filed last month also said that the information about the terror antecedents of Ishrat Jahan and three other who were killed in the 2004 encounter by Gujarat Police was given to the state government by the Central intelligence agencies.

The Centre's new affidavit in the Gujarat High Court, which has serious long-term implications for the nation's internal security scenario, comes less than a month after the fresh controversy over the Ishrat Jahan case which was triggered by a report of Ahmedabad Judicial Magistrate SP Tamang last month that completely indicted the Gujarat Police in the encounter case. Two of the four killed in the encounter were Pakistani terrorists. The report which the magistrate had filed without giving any of the indicted officials an opportunity to give their version was later stayed by the Gujarat High Court which also ordered an inquiry against the judge's conduct on a strong plea by the Gujarat government.

What had then embarrassed the anti-Narendra Modi lobby of Congressmen and Left-oriented human rights activists was the Centre's affidavit filed in the Gujarat High Court.

The affidavit had more or less supported the Gujarat government's stand that the four were terrorists and had links with LeT, who were killed in the encounter. Also that there was no need for an FIR or a CBI inquiry in the case as demanded by the relatives of two of those killed in the encounter, including Ishrat Jahan.

However, now the Centre's fresh affidavit which it appears to have filed bowing to intense political pressure creates a new threat for the national security scenario in more than one way. The new affidavit says that that "it is the Centre's primary concern to see that inputs gathered by the Indian security agencies and their efforts are not discredited" but in a total contradiction it also says that "such inputs don't constitute conclusive evidence and that it is for the state government and its police to act on such inputs". The new affidavit further says, "The Centre is not concerned with such action nor does it not condone or endorse any unjustified and excessive action."

The affidavit says: "If on proper consideration of facts it is found that an independent probe into the case has to be carried out by the CBI or otherwise the Union of India would have no objection to this and would abide by the decision of the honourable court. The Central government was not concerned with the merits of the Gujarat Police's action and earlier affidavit was not intended to justify or support such action". It also says that the references in the earlier affidavit to information that appeared on the website of Jamat-ud Dawa, the LET-linked organisation in Pakistan, "was not intelligence but mere information".

In the old affidavit the Central government had said that the LeT first claimed through one of its mouth pieces that Ishrat Jahan was an LeT operative but withdrew the claim later to facilitate the cases that the relatives of Ishrat Jahan and Javed alias Pranesh Pillai (one of those killed in the encounter) had filed in the court claiming that she was innocent.

So, if one goes by the Centre's fresh affidavit it virtually means that the Union Government's intelligence inputs to the state government in future will not carry the same sanctity as before. Moreover, it creates a new and dangerous situation for the future wherein a state government might refuse to act against terrorists on the intelligence inputs provided by the Central government's intelligence agencies for the fear of Union Government not backing its action in future and even getting hauled up like in the case of Gujarat. Political analyst Vidyut Thakar, who sees the step as one that sacrifices national security at the alter of minority appeasement, says: "Anti-national forces have all the reason to rejoice over this about-turn of the UPA-led government following political pressure. It has a negative long-term implication for the national security scenario."

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