The mother of Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old Muslim woman that police killed in Gujarat nine years ago claiming she was a terrorist, believes that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi knew of the plan to kill her daughter and was possibly complicit in it.
“Modi is one hundred percent involved in the killing of my daughter and his role in it should be investigated,” Shamima Bi, Ishrat Jahan’s mother, told TEHELKA on Monday, June 17. “How could he not have known when the police claim Ishrat was a terrorist and was on her way to kill Modi when they shot and killed her?”
Shamima also said that the police officers involved in her killing — outside the city of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004 — should be given the death sentence if found guilty. “They planned her killing in cold blood and then killed her knowing fully well that she was innocent,” Shamima said in a telephonic interview. “They should hang for it.”
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is set to prosecute various officers of Gujarat Police who had planned and killed Jahan and three men in an early morning “encounter”. It has declared as absconder a former Ahmedabad crime branch chief named in the case. A former state police chief too is named in the case.
The Gujarat High Court tasked the CBI with the prosecution after a special investigative team (SIT) the court had appointed said in November 2011 that the police had actually kidnapped the victims and shot them, rejecting its claim of killing them in a shootout.
The court had set up the SIT after a magistrate in Ahmedabad had found contradictions in the police story. Based on autopsy reports, the magistrate wrote in 2009 that the victims appeared to have been shot in captivity and not in an exchange of gunfire.
The police had defended the killing saying the Intelligence Bureau (IB), India’s principal snooping agency, had provided the intelligence that Jahan and the three men, two of whom were allegedly Pakistanis, were winding their way to assassinate Modi.
The CBI now has named a police officer with the IB who it says provided a false input about the four persons that were subsequently killed. CBI sources suggest the said officer, Rajindra Kumar, would be arrested. The CBI claims to have evidence that Kumar was on the phone with Modi’s office throughout the day of the killings. Last week the CBI told the high court it would file the charges against the accused by mid-July.
Despite an intense fight back by the IB to stall Kumar’s arrest, Shamima Bi says she believes she is now close to getting justice for her daughter’s killing. “The police and the intelligence agency are trying their hardest to botch the case because their neck is firmly caught in it,” she said. “But I am confident that it is moving in our favour.”
Shamima Bi said she had all but lost hope for securing justice until the Ahmedabad magistrate, SP Tamang, wrote his report in 2009. “The Tamang report revived our hope. I knew then that my innocent daughter’s death would be avenged soon.”
Modi’s government maintains that Jahan and the three others were terrorists and were killed in a genuine encounter. His complicity in the killings has been regularly denied. Tehelka has no means to independently verify Shamima Bi’s allegation against Modi as valid or not. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party this month chose him to lead it in the country’s next General Election that are due in May next year.
Shamima Bi is unfazed that Modi might become prime minister. “The courts have a duty and a right to convict the guilty no matter how high they be.”