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Ishrat Jahan case: BJP seeks probe into UPA flip-flop.

Summary: Naidu says CBI was misused by former government to defame then Gujarat Chief Minister Modi

Karuna Madan, Correspondent

New Delhi: The Narendra Modi-led central government on Wednesday asked the Opposition Congress party to come clean on the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, alleging that the decision to "alter" the affidavit in the matter was taken by then Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was misused by the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to defame the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is now Prime Minister.

He accused Chidambaram of following his Congress party's instructions to project that Ishrat was an innocent student killed in cold blood at the orders of the Gujarat government.

"UPA tried to represent Ishrat and others as martyrs. But first it was Lashkar-e-Taiba's website, secondly it was David Headley's statement and thirdly it was central government affidavit in the Gujarat High Court, and Gujarat Police also said it. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has said it. In spite of all these, they changed the affidavit. Congress party should come clean instead of simply denying it," Naidu told the Gulf News.

He said the matter needs to be discussed in the Parliament and probed thoroughly.

"Now another startling revelation by former Home Secretary G.K. Pillai who is saying that the decision to change the affidavit was taken at the political level. Political level means the then Home Minister P Chidambaram, Prime Minister and Congress President. These are the three people who were at the helm of affairs," Naidu emphasised.

He also referred to former Under Secretary in Home Ministry R.V.S. Mani's statement that he was forced and tortured to change the draft.

"The torturing of government officer by other agency at the behest of political leadership, you can understand how much misuse was done by the previous government with regard to CBI. How political opponents were harassed. The entire plan was to stop Narendra Modi, defame Narendra Modi, implicate Narendra Modi," he said.

Mani has backed claims of political interference in the Ishrat Jahan case during the Congress-led UPA rule.

"I drafted the first affidavit, it was a clear and exact affidavit. It was based on documents we had on file. I do not know what was the reason for a second affidavit. In 2013, I was hauled up and harassed. I drafted a note and sent it to my superiors. Immediate result was that many fellows chased me," Mani said.

The former undersecretary has alleged that he was physically harassed by the then CBI officer Satish Verma during the interrogation to sign the second affidavit. "Satish Verma started narrating nonsense, became physical. He had put cigarette butts on my thighs," alleged Mani.

Also then Home Secretary GK Pillai has alleged that Chidambaram bypassed him, called a lower functionary in IB and "rewrote" the Ishrat affidavit.

Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi has come out in support of Chidambaram. "Chidambaram has already explained. We have been targeted since we were in power," Gandhi told reporters here.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has suggested the Centre to file a contempt petition against Chidambaram for allegedly filing a wrong affidavit in the case.

"I will request the Centre to file a contempt petition against Chidambaram. If it does not file it, I will do so," Swamy told reporters.

Ishrat, 19, was shot dead along with three others in Gujarat in 2004. Gujarat police officers claimed that all four were involved in a plot to assassinate Modi. Citing intelligence reports, Chidambaram submitted an ffidavit in the Gujarat High Court in August 2009, which referred to Ishrat's alleged links with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). However, a revised affidavit was filed within a month in which all references to Ishrat's alleged terror links were missing.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Mar 2, 2016
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