In a further blow to the accused in the encounter case of Ishrat Jahan, the National Investigation Agency has clarified that convicted terrorist David Coleman Headley, who is currently lodged in an American jail, never mentioned the 19-year-old during any of the interrogations.
The Intelligence Bureau had claimed that Headley, a Laskhkar-e-Tayiba operative who was convicted for his role in the 26/11 terror strike, had indeed mentioned Ishrat during his interrogation.
But the NIA, in its 117-page report about Headley’s questioning, makes no mention of Ishrat.
NIA sleuths, who were allowed to question Headley by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told rediff.com that their primary focus was on garnering more information on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case.
Continuing the blame-game between Indian security agencies, the NIA has been accused of deliberately avoiding the Ishrat issue while questioning Headley.
“We were allowed to question Headley based on a sovereign assurance. While we had to allow the presence of his counsel and a few FBI officials in the interrogation cell, we also had to assure the US Federal Bureau of Investigation that no question other than the ones related to the 26/11 attacks would be asked,” said a NIA official.
“There was no proper evidence of what he was trying to say and we felt that it was more of hearsay,” he added.
Meanwhile, the home ministry has come under fire for presenting two different affidavits about the Ishrat Jahan case. In 2009, based on inputs from various agencies, it had stated before a Gujarat court that Ishrat had terror links.
In 2012, the ministry had to eat its won words and admit that there was no conclusive evidence to substantiate its earlier claim.
The Intelligence Bureau continues to insist that Headley had spoken about Ishrat.
“Indian agencies should have probed Headley’s statement further. It was not right to dismiss Headley’s statements as hearsay as investigations require more effort than that,” said an IB official.
The home ministry has also defended itself against allegations of a shoddy job by pointing out there was no doubt about the antecedents of the three men who were gunned down with Ishrat.
If she was not a terrorist, ask home ministry officials, what was she doing with these three men?
Image: The encounter site in Ahmedabad where Ishrat Jahan and three others were gunned down