Senior Congress leader and former Home Minister P Chidambaram has landed in fresh trouble after Central government has made up its mind to prosecute him in the Ishrat Jahan affidavit change case, Sunday Guardian reports.
According to the report, the government is going to obtain permission from Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu to prosecute Chidambaram, who is currently a Rajya Sabha leader.
The case dates back to June 2004, when Ahmedabad Police with help of Intelligence Bureau officers gunned down a 19-year old girl Ishrat Jahan along with three others for allegedly belonging to terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba and harbouring intent to assassinate that time Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The case had received national uproar after the encounter was accused to be fake.
In the case, an affidavit was filed by Home Ministry at Gujarat High Court on 6 August 2009, which was under P Chidambaram at that time. The affidavit had said that encounter was genuine, and Ishrat and her fellow companions were LeT operatives. The affidavit was physically filed by that time undersecretary for internal security at the Ministry of Home Affairs RVS Mani. However, a second affidavit filed by the same officer on 29 September 2009, which changed the course of the investigation. The second affidavit said that the previous affidavit misinterpreted Ishrat’s connections with LeT, and stated that Ishrat did not belong to LeT. The “revised affidavit”, was reportedly drafted by P Chidambaram, who is a professional lawyer himself.
“Although I have no recollection of seeing the first affidavit, let us presume that I did. Then came the report of Magistrate S.P. Tamang. This report caused an uproar and there was demand mainly from Gujarat that Government of India should clarify or dispel misinterpretation being placed on the First affidavit. This is why a second, short affidavit was filed!” said a tweet by Chidambaram in 2016. The SP Tamang report mentioned here was filed at Gujarat’s Metropolitan court, after filing of the first affidavit. It had incriminated Crime Branch of deliberately kidnapping and killing 4 people without any links to any terror organization. The report was challenged by the Gujarat Government.
The decision to draft the second affidavit, absolving Ishrat Jahna and others of any terror links, was alleged to have been taken by Senior Congress leaders in order to frame Former CM Narendra Modi and prosecute officers like DG Vanzara, who had conducted the operation. Even the officer who filed both the affidavits, RVS Mani, had claimed that he was tortured in order to sign the second affidavit. He also accused Satish Verma – the special investigation team (SIT) chief in the case, of torturing him and intimidating him. Similar claims were also made by Home Secretary GK Pillai, who said that second affidavit was drafted at a political level.
The Sunday Guardian report also states that a senior Congress leader from the western part of the country had written to PMO expressing dismay over the first affidavit, that it did not frame CM Narendra Modi and Home Minister of state Amit Shah and gave a clean chit to Ahmedabad Police and IB Officers involved in the operation. The report also states that the decision to draft the second affidavit was taken by the top leadership of the Congress party. The amended draft allegedly withdrew all statements incriminating Ishrat Jahan. The second affidavit, according to report, was to be filed by the same officer who filed the first affidavit so that it does not raise eyebrows.
Government’s nod to prosecute P Chidambaram could not have come at the worst time. The Congress leader is already getting grilled by Enforcement Directorate, in relation to the INX media case. In November last year, the union government gave its nod for prosecuting him in the Aircel-Maxis case. CBI has also filed a charge sheet against his wife Nalini Chidambaram in the Saradha Chit Fund scam in West Bengal. Now, the allegations of filing of the second affidavit for political reasons can land P Chidambaram in an unprecedented crisis.