Jamadi Thani / Rajab 1425 H July 2004
Volume 17-07 No : 211
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Ishrat was the victim of her socio- economic background, which was exploited by anti-social elements who trapped her into some suspicious activity.
The Gujarat police claimed to have detected “clinching” evidence from slain Mumbai collegian Ishrat Jahan’s diary to prove that she was involved in terrorist activities.
If the gunning down of the 19-year-old girl and three other suspected terrorists by the Crime Branch (CB) of the Ahmedabad police raised suspicions, the fresh claims evoked more questions.
Stunned by the general air of disbelief, the CB cited a diary, purportedly written by Ishrat, which gives details of some cash transactions between her and the ‘terrorists’.
Providing photocopies of some pages of the diary to the media, CB officials claimed Ishrat had herself noted details of the places she and Javed Sheikh, who was also killed in the police encounter, had visited and about the expenditures made or cash received from unknown sources.
Analysts, however, wonder how the CB knew the diary is in Ishrat’s handwriting when she was killed the moment she entered Ahmedabad. Even the Directorate of Forensic Science is yet to examine the diary.
That apart, notes of daily expenditures, places visited and financial transactions involving sum of Rs 4.8 lakh do not prove the alleged connection of Javed and Ishrat with Lashkar-e-Toiba, or their plans of killing Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
The diary also carries the names of all their VIP targets, including their code names. If the two were on a killing mission, why were they carrying so many clues that could nail them, ask analysts. And when code names for targets are used, why is their equivalent full name carried in the same diary?
CB’s additional commissioner, D. G. Vanzara has pulled another ace out of his sleeve, claiming he had audio-taped the interrogation of Ishrat’s mother Shamima Raza, when she came to claim her daughter’s body and “confessed” to the links between her daughter and Javed. Even Vanzara knows audiotapes are not admissible as evidence in any court in the country and have hardly any legal sanctity.
The Thane Crime Branch said it was ‘yet to find any evidence of the girl’s links with the terrorist outfit’. “We have still not found any evidence that could lead to the girl’s links with any terrorist group,” ACP, Amar Jadhav said.
Meanwhile, college authorities have been quoted as saying that Israt was a regular student and had secured admission to second year B.Sc this year opting for mathematics and statistics. She had secured a second class in her first year B.Sc exams, they said.
The vice-principal of the girl’s college said he believed the girl was well behaved and attended her classes regularly. She was never found to be involved in any unlawful activity, he said. He said the college believed she was not a terrorist.
Neighbours said the death of Ishrat’s father, a municipal contractor, two years ago, had caused economic hardship to the family, and as one of seven siblings, Ishrat fulfilled her responsibility towards the household by giving tuitions.
“She taught schoolchildren in the locality and helped her mother, who does embroidery and tailoring, to make ends meet. I have never seen terrorists or criminals visiting their place in the last three years that they have been here. The family is peace-loving,” Mohammed Ibrahim, secretary of the Hashmat Park building, said.
Rajya Sabha MP and Samajwadi Party’s city unit chief, Abu Azmi said, “ the entire encounter has been fabricated with an intention to save Modi from the ongoing political crisis”. In view of both BJP and NDA pointing fingers at Modi’s handling of post-Godhra riots for the party’s debacle in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls, the encounter was “staged to divert the attention from the on-going crisis”, said Azmi.
There are lessons to be learn from the Ishrat tagedy. The community does not have any mechanism in place to take care of the destitutes and socio economic issues are not getting the attention they deserve. Ishrat was the victim of the socio- economic background, which was exploited by the anti-social elements who trapped her into some suspicious activity.
In Islamic Voice, time and again, we raise the social issues specifically pertaining to Muslim women. Mumbra, the place from where Ishrat comes has a large population of Muslim women who work in the Beer bar. Islamic Voice had done an exclusive story on the issue.
Ironically, there are very few institutions and NGO’s to take care of the women who have lost their parents. In Mumbai, an exclusive institution for women closed down for the lack of interest by it founders.
The community needs a deemed university on the line of SNDT or Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) offering graduation and post- graduation in social sciences. Research in the specific areas will go long way in diagnosing the problems faced by the community.
To prevent the Israt story to be repeated, the community must debate the issue at length and discover what went wrong and who are the culprits? The Israt episode should not be considered as an isolated incident. There may be many more Israts who are trapped in suspicious activities. They all need community help and guidance.
Start can be made by conducting a survey of destitute Muslim girls in the locality and then provision be made for sponsoring them. Once their basic needs are taken care of, they can be trained and coached to play a constructive role in the society.