The Central Bureau of Investigation announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for anyone providing information regarding Johar and Rana, the two persons who were killed in an encounter along with Ishrat Jahan.
While the CBI is seeking to impart this information to study the antecedents of these two persons and find out how they were linked with Ishrat Jahan, the Intelligence Bureau has interesting material dating back to 2004 which speaks about the exact plan that ring leader and Lashkar-e-Tayiba commander Muzzamil had hatched.
A plan had been drawn out in the late part of 2003 to eliminate leaders who were perceived to be anti Muslim in India. Bal Tackerey, Pravin Togadia, Ashok Singhal, L K Advani and Narendra Modi were on the hit list. An officer with the Intelligence Bureau told rediff.com that this was the information that was gathered on the operation based on the taped conversations between Jishan Johar alias Abdul Ghani, one of the men killed in the encounter and Muzzamil who is also an accused in the 26/11 case.
The conversation tapped by the IB paints an interesting picture. It was around this time that the IB had warned that the Lashkar was planning major suicide strikes in India and that they had even been looking for female suicide bombers for this mission against the Hindu leaders in India.
The conversation between Johar and Muzzamil dates back to the year 2004. All the targets are addressed as machlis (fish). Johar is addressed as Janab and Rana as yaar. The taped conversation suggests that Johar was settled in Kashmir but was a Pakistan national who was assigned to oversee this operation. He was told clearly by Muzzamil to hire Indian nationals for this operation. All through the conversation it appears as though Muzzamil is trying to brainwash the men in the line of operation and makes them understand repeatedly the importance of this mission.
The next conversation that has been tapped by the IB is between Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai who was also killed in the encounter. He was instructed to help Johar out in the operation and make him understand the demographics since Johar was new to this land. Further during the conversation, Muzzamil suggests to Johar in Urdu that a job had been arranged for him in Gujarat. I have spoken with Javed Shaikh and they have fixed a job for you at a factory in Ahmedabad, Muzzamil tells Johar.
Muzzamil further states that they should stay in touch with Shaikh at all times, since he has been appointed specifically to eliminate the five targets fixed by them. He would be part of all the operations, but preference would be given to the Machli 5 (Narendra Modi) project first. All through the conversation the name of Modi is never taken, but Machli 5 is referred to as a person in Ahmedabad which led the agencies to believe that it was Modi since the other leaders were not part of this state.
Johar was also told that he would be received by Shaikh from Maharashtra and then they could go ahead with the operation. This was the exact nature of the input that was passed on by the IB to the Gujarat police who finally carried out an operation which the CBI has termed as a fake encounter.
However these intercepts do not have any mention of a woman bomber. There is no mention of Ishrat Jahan either. The question as to what she was doing with these persons who almost every agency has certified as Lashkar operatives continues to remain a mystery.