A major conspiracy involving Union ministers in the Manmohan Singh government was hatched in 2009 to link the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his Home Minister Amit Shah in the 2004 encounter case of Ishrat Jahan, alleged to be a member of the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. This conspiracy also included plans to arrest an Intelligence Bureau officer and force him to implicate Modi and Shah in the case.
In 2009, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) filed an affidavit before the Gujarat High Court stating that the slain woman had links with terror outfits. This angered a top Congress leader from a western state, who wrote a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office in the first week of September 2009, expressing dismay that because of the affidavit Modi could not be framed in Ishrat’s encounter. At one point, the two-and-a-half page typed letter reads: “With this the last hope to grill the Gujarat CM and HM have (sic) diminished in despair since it was the last chance to have a strong SIT with capable people who could have really embarrassed and put Gujarat ministry in difficulty. Two of the accused are also in close contact and have shown willingness to reveal everything and to become approvers.” The letter then complains about the MHA, saying that “The reason behind filing of the affidavit by the Central Government was to dissuade the court from appointing a strong SIT and give a message that even the Central Government had approved the act of fake encounter.”
The Congress leader was unhappy that the MHA’s affidavit had placed on record that Ishrat was a terrorist.
This letter, which is a part of the PMO files, will become a crucial piece of evidence if the present Union government decides to unravel the conspiracy that was hatched by certain political leaders to stop Narendra Modi from arriving on the national scene.
According to officers closely connected with the case and as per the documentary evidence accessed by this newspaper, the plot to stop Modi was worked upon until a few months before the 2014 general elections.
One of the meetings to discuss how to implicate Modi in the Ishrat case was held in the residence of a Cabinet minister in the first week of October 2013 in New Delhi. At least three Union ministers, the political leader who had written the letter to the PMO, and a very senior officer of the CBI were present there, say sources. In that meeting, one of the Union ministers, who is also a well-known legal mind, asked the CBI officer to torture Intelligence Bureau officer Rajendra Kumar and make him confess that the inputs that Ishrat Jahan was a Lashkar member, were fake and were generated on Modi’s orders.
“Usko arrest kijiye aur chaar jutey mariye, sab kabool karega (arrest him and beat him with shoes; he will confess everything)”, were the instructions that were issued by the minister to the CBI officer present in the meeting.
According to these officers, the Congress leadership was divided on the political conspiracy that was being hatched by using the Intelligence Bureau. “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the concerned Congress leaders at least thrice that the IB should not be used for political purposes. Even the two Home Ministers, who came at different time periods, tried to keep the IB out of this political conspiracy, but the leader from the western state prevailed and they were forced to shut their eyes to the whole thing,” the official said.
The officers said that unlike what was presented to the media, a very senior IB officer too was a willing member of the whole conspiracy. “This officer adopted two stands. One for the public, in which he was defending Rajendra Kumar and the other in which he was helping the CBI fabricate evidence against him. In building his public stand, which appeared to be pro-Rajendra Kumar, he was helped by an editor ranked journalist who is still working with a leading English newspaper in Delhi,” the official said.