In the midst of a controversy over the fake encounter of Ishrat Jehan and three others, Centre said on Wednesday that it stood by its affidavit in court that the four were suspects but said that "terrorists cannot be killed in cold blood."
"Whatever we have given in the affidavit is a fact available with the Home Ministry...we are not backtracking from the affidavit," Home Secretary G K Pillai told media-persons in New Delhi. 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 Home Ministry has nothing to do with the encounter. We have given facts based on the Intelligence reports. On that basis, we filed the affidavit in the court," he said.
Pillai said the Home Ministry was not a party to decide on the bonafides of the encounter and it was for the court to find out. A fresh controversy broke out over the alleged 2004 encounter of Ishrat Jehan and three others when a judicial report claimed that the killings were fake.
The Gujarat government had rejected the report insisting that those killed were Lashkar-e-Tayiba 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.
A police officer named in magistrate S P Tamang's report which concluded that encounter of Ishrat Jahan and three others was fake, approached the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday demanding that the report should be declared null and void. The petition has been filed by current Gujarat anti-terrorist squad Superintendent of Police G L Singhal, who was serving with the city crime branch at the time of encounter in 2004. Singhal in his petition before the high court has also demanded that the court should immediately grant a stay on the judicial inquiry report of Tamang. The matter will come up for hearing in the court on Wednesday evening. Singhal has also prayed that the three member committee of police officers formed by the high court should continue its investigations in the encounter case. The state government is likely to become a party in the petition filed by Singhal, government sources said.