In a new twist to the Ishrat Jahan encounter probe,a Gujarat police officer arrested in the case has submitted a letter in the Supreme Court purportedly written by the legal attache of the US embassy endorsing the claim that Lashkar-e-Toiba operative David Headley had spoken about Ishrat having been a suicide bomber.
The letter,related to a threat against Hindu temples,is the first US paper trail linking Headley to Ishrat.
It was submitted by deputy superintendent of police N K Amin,who was arrested on April 5 for his role in the alleged fake encounter. Amin has appealed to the apex court to quash the charges against him,saying investigations were being done in a biased and malicious manner.
Amin,who is lodged in Vadodara jail,has submitted a set of documents including a true copy of a letter dated June 25,2010,apparently sent by Daniel C Clegg,the legal attache in the US embassy in Delhi,to the Intelligence Bureau.
Clegg is said to be the pointsperson for the US FBI in India and the key liaison officer for Indian security agencies on terrorism issues after the 26/11 Mumbai attack.
The first part of the letter has a subject 415E-CG-130854-2041 NL C-46 Request to share information related to threat against Hindu temples. In response to your letter dated June 15,2010 we are generating your request to share the below information with state authorities for appropriate use.
The second part of the letter says: Zaki told Headley about a female suicide bomber named Ishrat Jahan who was recruited by Muzammil. Jahan was killed by the Indian police during the attack. Zaki mentioned Muzammils plans to attack Akshardham temple,Somnath and Siddhi temples. The attacks were revenge for the 1988 attack on the mosque in UP.
Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is a top Lashkar leader and its military commander who is in a Rawalpindi jail for the 26/11 Mumbai attack. Muzammil is also believed to be a commander in the terrorist group.
Cleggs letter assumes significance as the home ministry had sought a report from the NIA last month after Congress leader Digvijaya Singh asked Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to clear the air on the controversy.
The NIA reportedly told the MHA that Headley had not mentioned Ishrat in his official confession. An NIA team had gone to the US in 2010 where they were given access to Headley.
Last month,Shinde had refused to share any information provided by the FBI on this subject citing a non-disclosure agreement between the US agency and the NIA. The IB has claimed that Headley had told the NIA team that Lakhvi had told him in 2005 about the failed operation involving Ishrat and the three men who were killed with her in 2004.