Speak about terrorism being made into a political tool and there cannot be a better case than the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. The biggest mystery in the Ishrat Jahan case is why the Home Ministry had allegedly told the National Investigation Agency not to include this angle to the David Headley probe.
While both the Home Ministry and the NIA deny any such thing, they maintain that the Ishrat Jahan angle never figured in the probe as they felt that Headley was speaking on basis of hearsay. They say that it was not necessary to add this angle since Headley had neither met with her or was not part of the team that is alleged to have recruited her to assassinate Narendra Modi and L K Advani. The questioning of Headley revolved around the 26/11 attack since he was directly a part of it, NIA officials point out.
Intelligence Bureau officials who have been regularly in touch with the Federal Bureau of Investigation say that there is no doubt that Headley was well aware of who Ishrat Jahan was. Sources tell rediff.com that the FBI questioning of Headley not only involved the 26/11 attack, but also the Lashkar-e-Tayiba’s plans in India. Headley does speak about the atrocities committed against Muslims not only in India but in other parts of the world. He spoke about how the Lashkar was planning on targeting some leaders in India who were believed to be anti Muslim. It was in this context that he tells the FBI about a woman suicide bomber called Ishrat Jahan.
The Ishrat Jahan encounter was already a major issue when Headley had been questioned. It was a major bone of contention and not only was the encounter being questioned, but even the fact whether Ishrat was a Lashkar operative or not was under suspicion. When everyone sought answers, it is quite surprising that the NIA did not chose to push the questioning on this angle further despite Headley knowing a lot about her and the case. Sources say that the problem was not with the NIA and they in fact had done an in depth questioning of Headley regarding Ishrat. However the problem began when they returned to India from the US and discussed the matter with the Home Ministry. The final report on Headley was put out only after discussion with the Home Ministry and some officers point out that the NIA was told not to mention too much about the Ishrat Jahan angle.
CBI officials who are today tasked with the case would not however look into this angle. They maintain that they have been specifically told to find out if the encounter was fake or not. The Intelligence Bureau on the other hand would do everything under the sun to prove that the input was correct regarding Ishrat and her accomplices. They have already written to the CBI and are also pointing out that the NIA does have details and they need to be questioned about the same despite them not mentioning the same in their final report after the questioning of David Headley.