Ishrat Jahan case: Deadline approaches, files still not traced

Home Minister Rajnath Singh had disclosed in Parliament on March 10 that the files were missing.

New Delhi: The missing files and documents related to the alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan have not been traced, Additional Secretary B K Prasad, who has got four days left to submit his report on the mysterious disappearance of the documents, on Friday told the Union Home Ministry.

Prasad, who is due to retire on May 31, is understood to have been given a two-month extension but has been asked to give his report by the month-end so that the Home Ministry could decide on future course of action including registering an FIR.

Prasad had met Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi earlier today during which he expressed his inability to trace the files related to alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan, official sources said.

The one-member panel was constituted after Union 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 Jahan, who was killed in an alleged fake encounter in Gujarat in 2004, went missing.

The papers which disappeared from the Home Ministry include the copy of an affidavit vetted by the then Attorney General and submitted in the Gujarat High Court in 2009 and the draft of the second affidavit vetted by the AG on which changes were made.

Two letters written by the then Home Secretary G K Pillai to the then Attorney General late G E Vahanvati and the copy of the draft affidavit have so far been untraceable. Prasad, a Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer, is embroiled in a controversy after an Under Secretary serving in the Home Ministry's Foreigners Division accused him of pressuring him (the junior officer) of giving clean chit to Ford Foundation, which allegedly violated provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. Prasad has denied the allegation.

The record room of the ministry was being searched as of now which may be followed by seeking an examination of four Joint Secretaries of the Ministry who had dealt with the file during their tenures, the sources said.

The first affidavit was filed on the basis of inputs from Maharashtra and Gujarat Police besides the Intelligence Bureau where it was said the 19-year-old girl from Mumbai outskirts was a Lashkar-e-Taiba activist but it was ignored in the second affidavit, Home Ministry officials said.

The second affidavit, claimed to have been drafted by the then Home Minister P 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 affidavit.

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 assassinate the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

( Source : PTI )
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