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NIA note claimed Ishrat was with LeT

The note goes against CBI’s assertion to the contrary.

ABHINANDAN MISHRA  NEW DELHI | 22nd Jun 2013

he interrogation report of David C. Headley prepared by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2010, claims that Ishrat Jahan was a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative. A portion of the report, where LeT terrorist Headley mentions Ishrat's name, is available with this newspaper. The report mentions Headley telling NIA officers that the "Ishrat Jahan module was one of Muzzammil's botched up operations". This flies in the face of the claim consistently made by the Central Bureau of Investigation that Ishrat Jahan was not a part of any terror network. The CBI, in a December 2011 FIR on the Ishrat encounter case, had said that there was no evidence to substantiate "certain news reports" on Headley's revelations that Ishrat was part of a terror network. The NIA too, in its submission to the Gujarat High Court in May 2011, had stated that media reports that Headley had talked about Ishrat Jahan were baseless.

The interrogation of Headley, who is presently in the custody of the United States, took place in June 2010. The interrogation report (NIA UO No.4/2009/NIA/16104, dated 13 October 2010) makes it clear that Headley was told by his LeT bosses that Jahan was a part of the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The report reads, "On being asked about Ishrat Jahaan, I (Headley) state that in late 2005 Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi introduced Muzzammil to me. Having introduced Muzzammil, Zaki talked about the accomplishments of Muzzammil as a Lashkar commander. Zaki also sarcastically mentioned that Muzzammil was a top commander whose every big 'project' had ended in a failure. Zaki added that Ishrat Jahaan module was also one of the Muzzammil's botched up operations."

However, during the interrogation, Headley claimed that apart from this, he did not have any other information/knowledge about Ishrat Jahan.

Arrested LeT terrorist Abu Jundal has already confirmed to Indian investigators that David Headley was part of the LeT and was present in the meetings that the LeT held in Pakistan in 2008 to plan the Mumbai attacks.

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, whose name was taken by Headley in the 2010 interrogation, is a Lashkar military commander, who was identified by captured Mumbai attacker Ajmal Kasab as being the primary recruiter for the whole operation. The other name in question, Yusuf Muzammil, is a senior Lashkar operation commander and is regarded as the mastermind of the Mumbai attack.

Muzammil, who is known by aliases such as Yussuf and Abu Gurera, is the chief operational coordinator of Lashkar-e-Taiba operations in India's Kashmir and functions under the command of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) too, in its correspondence with the CBI — one as recent as February 2013 — told the agency that Jahan was working for LeT.

In its reply to a CBI letter (No.RC/5/S/2011/CBI/SCB/Mumbai/43 dated 13 February 2013), the IB mentions about the intelligence input that it received post the Godhra riots, indicating a threat to several leaders including Narendra Modi. The same input was shared by the IB with all state police heads vide IB TP no. 0327 on 22 April 2004.

This response also mentions that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had communicated to the IB that Headley had confessed to the US agency about Zaki telling him about a "female suicide bomber", Ishrat Jahan, who was recruited by Muzammil.

Commenting on the role of the CBI in the whole case, BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said that the Congress was misusing the CBI for political motives. "That Jahan was an LeT terrorist has been proved and it is a shame that the Congress is politicizing an issue that deals with national interest."

She also questioned what motivated the Ministry of Home Affairs to change its earlier affidavit in which it had said that Ishrat was an LeT terrorist. "There should be an investigation as to how with the change of ministers the affidavit of the Central government was changed. This case is similar to the coal scam where the government interfered and changed the affidavit," Lekhi alleged.

However, according to activists, the issue is not whether Ishrat was a part of LeT or not. Former Uttar Pradesh Inspector General of Police, S.R. Darapuri, who is associated with the All India's People Front, said that the real issue was the circumstance in which she was killed: "On the basis of my experience I can say that the conduct of the Intelligence Bureau has been communal and biased against the minorities historically. The CBI investigation has proved that Ishrat was killed in a fake encounter at the behest of the BJP-led NDA government. The guilty IB officers led by Rajendra Kumar should be punished without any delay."

 
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