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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 9 New Delhi February 20, 2016

David Headley’s revelations

Nothing Worthwhile for Further Action on Security and Strategic Defence of India

Monday 22 February 2016

by R.B. Sreekumar

By merely reiterating his earlier statement on Ishrat Jehan, killed by the Gujarat Police, in collaboration with the Central IB, David Coleman Headley did not provide any fruitful and significant inputs facilitating further probes by the Indian security agencies. Earlier also Headley stated that Ishrat Jehan was an LeT operative, without related information about her network and hierarchy in the LeT and specific operations carried out by she and her friends in India and other places. Of course, his statement has been music to the ears of the BJP leaders and organisers of fake encounters like DIG Vanzara of Gujarat Police who, in his resignation letter in 2013, had confirmed that the encounters were carried out in pursuance of a well-conceived strategic policy of the Modi Government.

Perhaps, there is a tie-up between the USA and India about Headley who must have been assured of immunity from legal action in India and the USA for his culpable role as an operative of the LeT.

Utilising each point of Headley’s revelations, no purposeful investigation is possible because he religiously avoided data about the present whereabouts, resources, associates and future plans of the LeT and its terrorists and sister organisations. Information on terrorists who were killed in police action is of not much use. But those planners and perpetrators of fake encounters can build up further on their defence and their political friends can boast about the feasibility and effectiveness of their counter-terrorist propaganda.

Justification of the killing of Ishrat Jehan, on the ground of her role as an LeT activist, has sinister portents. An impression will go around among the general public that fake encounters and extra-judicial elimination of persons, deemed to be terrorists by the police and their political godfathers, can be legitimised as preventive actions like detention of persons without trial under anti-terrorist laws, externment from an area etc. Fake encounters are pre-meditated murders, an offence under Section 302 of the IPC. Magisterial enquiry by the Ahmedabad Metropolitan Magistrate and Special Investigation Team appointed by the High Court of Gujarat had confirmed that Ishrat was killed in a fake encounter. The law says that even a convicted person awarded with death sentence should not be killed by the police and security agencies as this action is not as per the procedure established by law.

The CBI could not trace out the source of the AK-47 rifle recovered from Ishrat. Did Ishrat have skill and expertise to operate an AK-47 weapon? Who were her supporters and their pointwise gameplan? No collateral, corroborative and circumstantial evidence supporting the crimes of Headly has come out so far. The spree of fake encounters, started in October 2002 by the Gujarat Police, strangely stopped with the arrest of D.G. Vanzara and other police officers in April 2007. Significantly, no terrorist was killed or arrested since then. How did the Islamic jihadists become inactive after the arrest of the police officers? For their culpable complicity in fake encounters?

The author is the former Gujarat State Director General of Police.