The second affidavit filed by the Home Ministry in the Ishrat Jahan case, in which it dropped the reference of the slain woman being a part of the Lashkar module, was changed by the Ministry at the behest of the top leadership of the Congress party and the then UPA government and the PMO was also kept in the loop.
It was in the second week of September 2009, just weeks after the Home Ministry had filed the first affidavit in front of the Gujarat High Court on 6 August 2009, stating that Ishrat was a part of the LeT module, that the instructions to change the spirit of the affidavit was issued by the political leadership of the country and the PMO. This was done after a senior Congress leader stated that the affidavit needs to be changed as the present affidavit, by mentioning that Ishrat was a part of Lashkar, had taken away the opportunity to grill the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in the case.
The senior Congress leader, in his letter to the PMO, which was written on the direction of the top political leadership of the day, expressed his unhappiness over the way the Home Ministry had erred in putting on record in the first affidavit that Ishrat was a part of the LeT.
In the second week of September 2009, just weeks after the Home Ministry had filed the first affidavit in front of the Gujarat High Court on 6 August 2009, stating that Ishrat was a part of the LeT module, that the instructions to change the spirit of the affidavit was issued by the political leadership of the country and the PMO.
The Home Ministry then resorted to “course correction” and dropped any reference to Ishrat being a part of the LeT.
“After communications were received by the Home Ministry from the top leadership of the Congress party and the government, the file relating to Ishrat was sent to the Home Minister’s office on 23 September after which the then Home Minister ‘amended’ the affidavit. The most notable amendment was removing any statement that mentioned Ishrat being a part of the Lashkar. It was then sent to the executive branch of the Home ministry following which it was filed in the Gujarat High Court on 29 September. It was made sure that the same officer (R.V.S. Mani) filed the second affidavit as filing the second affidavit through another officer would have raised eyebrows,” an official familiar with the case said.
According to these officials, the Home Ministry was acting as a tool in the hands of the top political leadership of the time. “Any affidavit filed by any ministry before the courts are scrutinised closely at various levels before it is finally filed. The argument that the MHA erred in the first affidavit, that too by way of inserting unsubstantiated facts, as is being claimed by some quarters, is simply not tenable. The first affidavit was prepared on the basis of facts at hand. However, it was after the letter written by the Congress leader reached the North Block and the PMO, that the MHA went into an overdrive to alter the content of the affidavit, in which some facts were removed, after which the second affidavit was filed,” the official said.