New Delhi: The one-man inquiry panel probing the missing files related to Ishrat Jahan case has concluded that the papers were "removed knowingly or unknowingly or misplaced" in September, 2009, a period when Congress leader P Chidambaram was the Home Minister.
Only one paper out of the five documents related to the controversial alleged Ishrat fake encounter case that went missing from the Home Ministry was found, said Additional Secretary in the Home Ministry B K Prasad in his inquiry report submitted to Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi.
"It is evident that the documents were removed knowingly or unknowingly or misplaced," the inquiry committee has concluded.
The inquiry panel, however, made no reference to Chidambaram or anyone in the then UPA government. Congress leader Chidambaram was the Home Minister then.
Based on the statements of 11 serving and retired officers, including the then Home Secretary G K Pillai, the 52-page report said the documents went missing between September 18-28, 2009.
The second affidavit, which was different from the first one, and filed before Gujarat High Court on September 29, 2009, had said there was no conclusive evidence to suggest that Ishrat was an LeT operative.
The papers which went missing are office copy of the letter and enclosure sent by the then Home Secretary to the Attorney General on September 18, 2009, office copy of the letter sent by the them Home Secretary to the AG on September 23, 2009, draft further affidavit as vetted by the AG, draft further affidavit amended by the then Home Minister on September 24, 2009 and office copy if the further affidavit filed with the Gujarat High Court on September 29, 2009.
The paper which was retrieved from a computer hard disk was the letter sent by the then Home Secretary to AG on September 18, 2009.
Ishrat, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in the encounter with Gujarat Police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.
The Gujarat Police had then said those killed in the encounters were LeT terrorists and had landed in Gujarat to kill the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Sources said in his statement to the Ishrat inquiry panel, retired IAS officer Deverakonda Diptivilasa had reportedly said the documents were part of the file which he sent to the seniors during the deliberations before the second affidavit related to the alleged fake encounter case was filed.
However, the five documents were not found in the file when it returned, Diptivilasa, who was the then Joint Secretary (Internal Security) in the Home Ministry, learnt to have told the panel.
Sources said Home Ministry officials have detected about the five missing documents in 2013, when the UPA was in power but it was never flagged as the fair copies were intact then.
The one-member panel was constituted after Home Minister Rajnath Singh had disclosed in Parliament on March 10 that the files were missing.
Following an uproar in Parliament, the ministry had asked Prasad to inquire into the circumstances in which the files related to the case of Ishrat went missing.
The first affidavit was filed on the basis of inputs from Maharashtra and Gujarat Police besides Intelligence Bureau where it was said the 19-year-old girl from Mumbai outskirts was an activist of terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba but it was ignored in the second affidavit, Home Ministry officials said.
The second affidavit, claimed to have been drafted by Chidambaram, said there was no conclusive evidence to prove that Ishrat was a terrorist, the officials said.
Pillai had claimed that as Home Minister, Chidambaram had recalled the file a month after the original affidavit, which described Ishrat and her slain aides as LeT operatives, was filed in the court.
Subsequently, Chidambaram had said Pillai is equally responsible for the change in the affidavit.
Meanwhile, Congress dismissed findings of the inquiry panel. "I do not think that is correct. I do not think any important file could go missing when Chidambaram was the Home Minister. He was a very hands-on minister," senior spokesman Ajay Maken told reporters.
At that time, Maken was the deputy of Chidambaram in the Home Ministry but was not looking after the Internal Security division to which the file belonged....