David Coleman Headley, one of the prime accused in the 26/11 Mumbai blasts, told a special court on Thursday that Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in a 2004 encounter by Gujarat cops, was a suicide bomber for the Pakistani terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba. He was deposing before the court via video conferencing from the US.
Jahan was a 19-year-old girl from Mumbra in Maharashtra and was killed in June 2004 during a police encounter. Three others — Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar — were also killed in this encounter by the Ahmedabad Police Crime Branch, who alleged that they were all linked with terrorists.
Headley told the Mumbai court that there was a women's wing in the LeT and Jahan had been part of an operation where they were to shoot some police officers. The four were at the time accused of being involved in a plot to assassinate the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
"Ten years ago, LeT mouthpiece called Ishrat a martyr, what Headley has revealed confirms this," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told The Economic Times.
Meanwhile, Congress' Manish Tewari said that Headley's revelations did not justify the encounter on Jahan. "If BJP is making a charge that we tried to influence the investigation," he told Times Now, "we do not do what they do."
The encounter was carried out allegedly by a team led by DIG D.G. Vanjara, who was later jailed for his alleged involvement in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter.
The police alleged that Ishrat and her associates were Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives involved in a plot to assassinate the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. Later, an investigation was launched into the allegations that Ishrat was killed in a fake encounter. After a long investigation, in 2009, an Ahmedabad Metropolitan court ruled that the encounter was staged.
The decision was challenged by the Gujarat State government, and taken to the High Court. On 3 July 2013, the CBI has filed its first chargesheet in an Ahmedabad court saying that the shooting was a staged encounter carried out in cold blood.
(with agency inputs)
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