Ishrat Jahan was an LeT terrrorst: Headley
Posted by jagoindia on July 20, 2010
Vishwa Mohan & Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN, Jul 5, 2010,
NEW DELHI: Pakistani American terrorist David Headley has said that Ishrat Jahan, the Mumbai girl who was killed along with three alleged terrorists in 2004 in a police encounter, was indeed a Lashkar-e-Taiba fidayeen.
Sources said Headley told interrogators from the National Investigation Agency that Ishrat, a resident of Mumbra in Thane, was recruited by top Lashkar commander Muzammil who was in charge of LeT’s operations in India till 2007.
The statement, while confirming that Headley is a trove of information on Lashkar’s plans against India, corroborates the version of Gujarat police as well as the Centre in what has turned into a controversial case because of doubts about the veracity of the police version.
Importantly, Headley’s statement tallies with claim of Gujarat cops and the Centre that Muzammil had sent Ishrat and her accomplices to Gujarat on a terror mission as part of Lashkar’s plan to attack the Indian hinterland and target VIPs.
Headley’s visits to India for reconaissance missions for Lashkar started in 2006, sources said, when Muzammil was Lashkar’s chief commander in India.
Lashkar had owned up Ishrat immediately after the encounter, with its Lahore-based mouthpiece ‘Ghazwa Times’ describing her as an LeT activist and taking umbrage at the action of Indian cops in removing her veil. In 2007, however, Lashkar, in its fresh incarnation as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, disowned her, by issuing an apology to Ishrat’s family for calling her an LeT cadre.
The timing of the apology was significant. It came just before Gopinath Pillai, father of Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai who was killed along with Ishrat, filed a petition in the Supreme Court, demanding a CBI probe into the encounter.
Headley’s statement that Ishrat was recruited to be a fidayeen undercuts Lashkar’s attempt to disown her, though it may not settle doubts about the genuineness of the encounter in which she was killed.
Ishrat and Javed were killed along with two Pakistani nationals — Amjad Ali and Jishan Johar Abdul Ghani — both alleged LeT terrorists, on June 15, 2004. According to the police version, they were intercepted on the outskirts of Ahmedabad when they were about to enter the city in a blue Indica on a mission to eliminate chief minister Narendra Modi.
In her petition to the Gujarat High Court, Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kausar had disputed the version of the Gujarat police as well as the Centre, claiming that her daughter was a saleswoman working for Javed Sheikh who dealt in perfumes. Javed’s father told the SC that his son was innocent and sought a central probe.
Both Gujarat police and Centre pointed to infirmities in their version. Centre told Gujarat HC that Javed had been recruited by LeT when he was in Dubai. Gopinath Pillai had not disclosed criminal cases pending against his son, or the fact that he had obtained a different passport using his original name even though the one issued to him was still valid.
The Centre also disputed the claim of Gopinath Pillai, supported by Ishrat’s mother, that he was in the business of perfumes and that this required him and Ishrat to travel across the country.
The Gujarat HC had set Monday as the deadline for all parties concerned to submit their replies to the petitions from the parents of Ishrat and Javed, seeking a CBI probe into the alleged encounter.
The case has taken on significance after a CBI probe established that Sohrabuddin, an alleged gangster, was killed by Gujarat cops in a fake encounter. It has also established that Tulsidas Prajapati, a small-time criminal who helped Gujarat cops nab Sohrabuddin, was also eliminated by the police to wipe out evidence.
Headley’s account underlines his importance as a repository of crucial information on Lashkar and its plans on India. His statement to the NIA team that LeT founder Hafiz Saeed was engaged with the 26/11 attackers all through the plot has reinforced India’s demand that Pakistan take action against the Lashkar chief. Sources described the information given by the Pakistani American terrorist as “vital inputs”.