NEW DELHI: Hours after Lashkar-e-Taiba( LeT) operative David Headley told a Mumbai court that Ishrat Jahan, a teenager killed by the Ahmedabad police in 2004, was recruited by his organisation as a suicide bomber, India's Home Ministry officials crowed that they had always said so.
However, their joy over Headley's disclosures on Ishrat is tempered by the fact that they carry little evidential value. That's because his statement is based on hearsay, which carries no weight even though he was making the statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Besides, Headley's statement has to be endorsed by someone like LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi -- which is not going to come.
Headley's statement will not help the CBI which probed the encounter killing of Ishrat and three men with her in June 2004. That investigation was about whether the killing was a fake encounter and not about whether the 19-year-old college girl from Mumbra in Thane district was an LeT member or not, ministry officials said.
Ishrat and the three men -- Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar -- were killed after a police chase of their car on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. Police said they were plannning to assassinate the then chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi.
After a furore arose over whether the slayings were a fake encounter, the CBI took up the investigation and named in its charge sheet former special director Rajinder Kumar of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and three other IB officials with murder and criminal conspiracy in the Ishrat encounter case.
However, the Home Ministry denied the agency permission to prosecute the IB officials.
In his testimony before a Mumbai court today, Headley reportedly said that Ishrat was indeed an LeT operative.
Testifying via video-link from the US, Headley picked up her name when quizzed by special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam about a "botched-up operation" mentioned to him (Headley) by Lakhvi.