Even as David Headley revealed in his deposition on Thursday that Ishrat Jahan was a member of the Lashkar-e-Toiba's women's wing, this however is not the first time that Headley has said this.
In 2010, Headley had said that Ishrat Jahan was a LeT fidayeen while speaking to a four-member team comprising officials from National Investigation Agency and Law Department that interrogated him in USA.
Headley claimed that Ishrat was recruited by Muzammil, a top Lashkar commander, who was in charge of LeT’s operations in India till 2007, according to sources.
Headley started scouting for targets in India in 2006, when Muzammil was LeT’s chief commander in India.
Lashkar had claimed responsibility for Ishrat immediately after the encounter, with its Lahore-based mouthpiece 'Ghazwa Times' describing her as a LeT activist.
But in 2007, Lashkar, in its new avatar as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, refused to acknowledge her, and issued an apology to Ishrat's family for calling her a LeT member.
Ishrat Jehan was killed along with Javed Sheik alias Pranesh Pillai besides two Pakistani nationals viz. Amjad Ali and Jishan Johar Abdul Ghani who were all alleged LeT terrorists on June 15, 2004.
Police said they were intercepted on the outskirts of Ahmedabad when they were about to enter the city in a blue Indica on a supposed mission to eliminate the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi so as to avenge the communal riots of 2002 which led to the death of several Muslims.
Ishrat’s mother had claimed in her petition to the Gujarat High Court that her daughter was a saleswoman working for Javed Sheikh who dealt in perfumes.
Ishrat Jahan was a 19-year-old second-year BSc student at Mumbai’s Guru Nanak Khalsa college.
Reactions to Ishrat Jahan issue at various points of time
Activist Teesta Setalvad had welcomed the Gujarat High Court’s decision to order a CBI probe into the case in 2011.
She had said, “The Verdict of the Gujarat HC in the Ishrat Jahan Case is welcome. It is also a severe indictment of those officers of the Gujarat police who are alleged to have committed this criminal act and also those in positions of political power and influence who ensured that policemen turn criminals and conduct criminal acts all to create a public perception that Modi and Advani are in danger from alleged terrrrorists. This was part of a Machiavellian plan put in place by Narendra Modi as chief minister and home minister--subverting and perverting the functioning of the Police Department--to create a set of ‘encounters’ (extrajudicial killings).”
A report submitted by metropolitan magistrate SP Tamang at Ahmedabad on September 7, 2009 ruled that Ishrat’s killing was a fake encounter and there was no evidence to either link her to LeT or indicate that she was on a mission to assassinate the then CM of Gujarat Narendra Modi.
After the Gujarat government challenged the report, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Karnail Singh was set up to probe the case further. The SIT filed a report on November 21, 2011, which said that the encounter was fake. Based on the report, the High Court ordered a complaint under IPC Section 302 (murder) to be filed against over 20 policemen, including senior IPS officers who were involved.
The Nitish Kumar-led JDU government had referred to Ishrat Jahan as Bihar’s daughter and promised to get justice for her.
"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, JDU leader Ali Anwar had said.
Shamina Kauser, Ishrat’s mother
In June 2013, Shamina Kauser, mother of Ishrat had said, “My daughter Ishrat Jehan was abducted, illegally confined and killed in cold blood by officers and men of the Gujarat police, in June 2004. She was killed as part of a larger conspiracy, which had a political agenda. Ishrat’s murder was projected as an ‘encounter’ and justified by branding her a terrorist who had come with 3 other men to attack the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. This was not the first fake encounter in Gujarat, other Muslims too had been executed in similar staged encounters, committed in the name of protecting the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Some of these other fake encounters, which are nothing but pre meditated extra judicial killings, are already under investigation and prosecution.”