Ishrat Jahan link: Untold story of a J-K encounter
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On the morning of June 28, 2004, about two weeks after 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan and three others were killed by Gujarat policemen in a fake encounter outside Ahmedabad, the Jammu & Kashmir Police shot dead two Pakistani men in Aastanpora on the outskirts of Srinagar city, allegedly after they tried to escape from police custody.
One of these two men, Shahid Mehmood, allegedly a commander of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, had been arrested two days earlier, on June 26, 2004.
In his confessional statement, Shahid Mehmood allegedly said that he had, after watching TV, identified one of the three men killed along with Ishrat as Amjad Ali alias Salim alias Babar, a Lashkar operative who had been trained by Lashkar's India operations commander Muzzamil for "executing plans" in this country.
This alleged disclosure — by a man who was killed almost immediately after he made it — is the only evidence that investigators have put forward to establish that the victims of the June 15, 2004 Gujarat encounter had links with the Lashkar, and that Amjad Ali was from Pakistan.
In his alleged confession, Shahid Mehmood made no mention of Ishrat Jahan, Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, or Zeeshan Johar — the three others killed in the fake encounter. He made no reference to the alleged conspiracy to carry out attacks in Gujarat, or to target Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
According to the J&K Police, Shahid Mehmood and Zahid Hafiz, the other Pakistani man killed in Aastanpora on June 28, had put together an 18-man Lashkar module in Srinagar. None of these 18 men — who were booked for providing logistic and other support to the two alleged LeT commanders — mentioned either Ishrat or the others in their disclosure statements.