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Former Home Minister P Chidambaram himself dictated the Centre’s revised affidavit in the Ishrat Jehan case in 2009, in which the references to her alleged Lashkar-e-Taiba links were removed, then Home Secretary G K Pillai has claimed.
Pillai said there was never any discussion among officials in the Home Ministry about altering the Centre’s earlier affidavit in the case. “It was done by the minister himself. You will have to ask the minister why he changed it, because none of us changed it,” Pillai said, when contacted. Asked whether the move to drop the reference to LeT links had been discussed with bureaucrats in the Home Ministry, Pillai said, “No, it was done suo motu by the minister.”
When contacted, Chidambaram responded through SMS: “The affidavit speaks for itself. And the UPA government has not disowned the affidavit.”
Pillai said: “My understanding is that the minister himself called the junior officers from the IB and so on, and in his office he dictated the revised affidavit. He gave it to them and told them to get it issued. To be on the safe side, the officers placed it on file and put it up. “When the revised affidavit came to me, I remember asking the joint secretary ‘where did this come from?’ He said this came from the minister himself. Once dictated by the minister himself, nobody looks into it because he’s the boss. Then everybody just signed.”
Reacting to Pillai’s claims, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said in a statement issued on Sunday: “It’s a tragedy for India that the Congress party is proved to be a sympathetic party of the terrorists and separatists. The disclosure of the facts by former Home Secretary G K Pillai depicts the true intention and mindset of the Congress party as to how much UPA government went out of way to protect a Lashkar-e-Taiba aide.”
Pillai had told The Times of India Saturday that Chidambaram had personally overseen the controversial changes in the Ishrat case affidavit.
An affidavit filed by the Home Ministry in Gujarat High Court in August 2009, which argued against a CBI probe in the case, had cited Intelligence Bureau inputs that Ishrat, Javed Shaikh (alias Pranesh Pillai), Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana were part of an LeT sleeper cell.
In the affidavit filed in September 2009, however, the MHA said IB inputs were not conclusive proof that those killed in the encounter had terror links. The fresh affidavit stated, “The Central Government in the said affidavit did not address any issue relating to the merits or otherwise of the police action. It was essentially concerned with the dealing of allegations relating to the intelligence inputs which were available with the Central Government and which are shared on a regular basis with the State Governments.
“The primary concern of the Central Government was to see that the inputs gathered by the Indian security agencies and their efforts were not discredited. It should be clear to all such inputs do not constitute conclusive proof and it is for the State Government and the State police to act on such inputs. The Central Government is in no way concerned with such action nor does it condone or endorse any unjustified or excessive action.
“If on a proper consideration of the facts it is found that an independent inquiry and investigation has to be carried by CBI or otherwise, the Union of India would have no objection to such a course and would abide by such orders which the court may deem fit to pass,” it said.