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Gujarat police mum on Ahmedabad encounter

June 17, 2004 16:27 IST
Last Updated: June 17, 2004 20:48 IST

Maintaining a veil of secrecy over the killing of four alleged Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists, including a girl, in an encounter on Tuesday, the Gujarat police refused to comment on the Thane Crime Branch's claim that it is yet to find any evidence of the girl's links with the outfit.

However, the Maharashtra government has ordered a probe into the allegations by the Gujarat police.

Four persons, including one teenaged girl Ishrat Raza Jahan, who was identified a resident of Mumbra in Mumbai, were gunned down by the Gujarat police's Crime Branch in the wee hours of June 15 near the Ahmedabad airport.

They were accused of being LeT terrorists and plotting to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi who is facing a political crisis following the setback to his Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha elections.

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But in a twist to the case, the Thane police made it public that they could not find evidence to back these claims. "We have still not found any evidence to link the girl with any terrorist group," ACP Amar Jadhav told PTI in Thane.

Thane Crime Branch officials carried out a thorough search of Ishrat's residence in Mumbra and a team also visited her college, Gurunanak Khalsa College in Matunga, central Mumbai.

College authorities have been quoted as saying that Ishrat was a regular student and had secured admission to second year BSc after passing in the second class in her first year exams.

Ahmedabad Police Commissioner K R Kaushik on Thursday ducked questions from reporters saying, "I cannot comment before talking to the Thane police."

Kaushik, who briefed reporters about the security arrangements for the ensuing 127th Lord Jagannath rath yatra, refused to entertain any questions pertaining to the June 15 encounter.

He refused to answer mediapersons' queries regarding the outcome of the post-mortem carried out on the alleged terrorists or the status of investigation in the case.

Later in the evening, the Maharashtra government ordered an inquiry to ascertain whether Ishrat had any criminal record as the opposition Congress in Gujarat has alleged that the encounter was 'fabricated'.

Opposition leader in the Gujarat assembly Amarsinh Chaudhary has sought a CBI probe into the matter. "The entire encounter was fabricated to save Modi from the ongoing political crisis," he said in Gandhinagar referring to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's statement that the BJP would discuss Modi's fate at the party's national executive meet in Mumbai on June 22-23.

Some leaders in the BJP and the National Democratic Alliance have pointing blamed Modi's handling of the post-Godhra riots for the debacle in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls.

"I have asked authorities to conduct an inquiry whether the girl was involved in any criminal activity or had any crime record," Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said. He has sought the report in three days.

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