Law ministry official removed in Ishrat affidavit row

The Ishrat Jahan killing in an alleged fake encounter took a new turn with a senior official in the Law Ministry removed from his post in the wake of controversy over the Centre’s affidavit in the Gujarat High Court while the Home Ministry stuck to its guns that the four were suspects.

As a controversy raged over the killing of the four suspected terrorists by the Gujarat police in 2004, the Union Home Secretary G K Pillai, however, said that “terrorists cannot be killed in cold blood.”

Highly-placed sources in the Law Ministry  said that the Law Officer, who had failed to bring the affidavit to the notice of the ministry, has been removed.  The sources, however, did not not explain the nature of the action against the official.

The sources also said that the Home Ministry did not not get the affidavit vetted by the Law Ministry before it was filed in the High Court in  case arising out of a petition filed by Ishrat’s mother against the police.

A magisterial probe into the killing of the four people in June, 2004 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad had on Monday concluded that the encounter was fake. The Gujarat government had yesterday claimed that the encounter against the four alleged operatives of Lashkar-e- Toiba (LeT) was carried out on the basis of information given by central intelligence agencies.

“Whatever we have given in the affidavit is a fact available with the Home Ministry...we are not backtracking from the affidavit,”  Pillai told reporters here.

However, he went on to add that “terrorists cannot be killed in cold blood”, indicating that due process of law had to be followed. Pillai made it clear that nobody from the Central agencies was involved in the “so-called encounter”.

The Gujarat government had rejected the report insisting that those killed were LeT operatives and dragged the Centre into the row claiming even it knew of their alleged terror links. The Gujarat police had claimed that the four persons — Ishrat, Javed Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, Amjad Ali alias Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani were LeT operatives planning to carry out terror strikes in the state.  They also claimed that the four persons were on a mission to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

“These people had stayed in hotels as man and wife. If an unmarried Muslim girl stays in a hotel at night with a married man with three children, you have to draw your own conclusions,” he said.

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