Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley

PTI | Feb 11, 2016, 12.31 PM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

• Ishrat Jahan was a suicide bomber of Lashkar.

• There is a female wing in Lashkar.

• ISI and LeT fund terror operations in India.
MUMBAI: In a significant claim, Pakistani-A

 Testifying via video-link from the US, Headley spoke about the 19-year-old Mumbra girl and picked up her name when quizzed by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam about a "botched up operation" mentioned to him (Headley) by LeT commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi.



In a significant claim, Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley said that Ishrat Jahan—who was killed in an alleged fake encounter in 2004 in Gujarat—was actually a suicide bomber of Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit. The disclosure is likely to ignite a fresh row around the controversial encounter.

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Testifying via video-link from the US, Headley spoke about the 19-year-old Mumbra girl and picked her name when quizzed by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam about a "botched up operation" mentioned to him (Headley) by LeT commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi.

Headley told the court that Lakhvi had mentioned to him about a "botched-up operation" conducted in India by another LeT operative Muzammil Butt where a female member of the terror outfit was killed.

Prodded by Nikam to elaborate on the operation and the members involved in it, Headley said, "(I was told) It was a shootout with police in which a (female) suicide bomber was killed."

To which the prosecutor prompted three names of which Headley picked up Jahan before telling the court that "there is a female wing in LeT and one Abu Aiman's mother headed it." Four persons—Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar— were killed in an encounter with the Gujarat Police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

The city crime branch had then said that those killed in the encounters were LeT terrorists and had landed in Gujarat to kill the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The CBI, which took over the probe from the Gujarat High Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), had filed a chargesheet in August 2013 saying that the encounter was fake and executed in the joint operation by the city crime branch and Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB).

Who was Ishrat Jahan?

Much has been written about Ishrat Jahan over the years. An Indian Express report says that Nusrat was a brilliant young student who never finished college and a caring 19-year-old who never got to be a young woman.

Her father Mohammad Shamim Raza was the proprietor of a Mumbai-based construction company while her mother worked at a medicine packaging company in Vashi. She had achieved first class in her Class 12 exams and joined Gurunanak Khalsa College at Kings Circle in Mumbai. Javed, who Ishrat called uncle, often helped her earn extra money to tide over hard times but the family wasn’t always poor. According to the report, the family wasn’t conservative and their father never insisted on them wearing the burqa or offering Namaz. When her father died in 2002, it fell upon Ishrat to look after the family, which she did by offering tuition to kids post her college.

Ishrat’s family was told that she would earn well if she managed the accounts of Javed's perfume shop in Pune. He also claimed to have a travel agency in the Middle East and wanted to take Ishrat there but her mother refused.

Four days before she was killed, Ishrat left her house on June 11, 2004. According to the New Indian Express, Ishrat spoke to her mother the same day and said that she was with Javed Sheikh (who was also killed along with her) and some men who had come with him.

On June 15, 2004, the Gujarat police stated that Ishrat, along with three others had been gunned down near Ahmedabad by a police team of the DCB and the four were killed after the police chased their blue Indica car.

Politicising the incident

Ishrat Jahan became a martyr for politicians who used her killing as an example of the Gujarat government’s crimes.

In 2009, the Congress leader PC Chidambaram slammed the Modi govt: ““If a state government acts as though intelligence inputs are evidence or conclusive proof, I am sorry for that state government... Certainly no one suggested that based on an intelligence input you should kill someone,” he told a press conference here joining issue with the Narendra Modi Government over the central government affidavit in the killing of Ishrat and three of her companions in June 2004.

“I think too much is being attributed to that affidavit if it is meant to defend the government of Gujarat against the excesses that may have been committed by its police. I am sorry for the government of Gujarat and the manner in which it runs its police administration,” he said.

“What did the affidavit say?” he asked and added: “To the best of my knowledge the affidavit says that intelligence inputs were shared with the Gujarat government.”

In 2013, JD(U) Ali Anwar had claimed that she was Bihar’s daughter. "Ishrat Jahan was a daughter of Bihar and people from Bihar believe in fighting for truth. She will get justice; we will get it for her, " Anwar said. "The CBI has agreed that it was a fake encounter. May it be Narendra Modi or Amit Shah, public perception is the main thing , they may dodge law and escape but cannot fool people of the country. I personally believe that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah were involved in this case," he added.

According to reports, Ishrat Jahan's grandfather Wali Mohammad belonged to Khagaul area near Patna. Her father Mohammad Shamim had married Shamima Qausar of Jamalpur in Bihar. They later moved to Maharashtra. The BJP’s Giriraj Singh took potshots at Nitish and JD(U) for referring to her as Bihar’s daughter. He said: “Just to garner more votes, the JD(U) and Nitish Kumar are referring to Ishrat Jahan as 'Bihar's daughter', whereas her mother says that she put up here (in Bihar) for some time on rent," he said.Meanwhile in Ishrat’s locality, an ambulance named after her turned up, whose service was opened by CPM leader Brinda Karat in 2011.
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