Bid to disrupt pro-Ishrat campaign meet thwarted

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An attempt to disrupt a “Justice For Ishrat Jahan Campaign” function at the Constitution Club here on Saturday was thwarted.

Activists of a little-known right-wing group, the Vishwa Hindu Sena, were removed from the premises after the Act Now for Harmony and Democracy member, Shabnam Hashmi, alerted the authorities.

Social activist Madhu Kishwar, who has lately become close to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday tweeted that a conference to express solidarity with Ishrat Jahan would be taking place at the Constitution Club.

According to Ms. Hashmi, about 15-20 members of Sangh Parivar had taken their places at the venue two hours ahead of the scheduled 5 p.m. start: “I alerted the Constitution Club authorities and told Ishrat’s family not to come immediately. Later, police personnel took the activists away. On their way out, these activists raised slogans and tore some of our posters and banners.”

Meanwhile, the Parliament Street police have arrested six members of the outfit under preventive Sections for trying to disrupt a peaceful meeting.

The meeting finally began around 5 p.m. after the family of Ishrat reached the venue. Describing Ishrat as her own daughter, Ms. Hashmi said: “I am a mother and understand the trauma and grief undergone by this family.”

She and other speakers wondered why Intelligence Bureau official Rajinder Kumar, who was allegedly privy to Ishrat Jahan’s encounter, was being shielded.

Ishrat’s family and those in solidarity with the 19-year-old slain college student appealed to the media to stop indulging in character assassination or branding her as a terrorist. They urged the government to stop shielding the IB official who planted weapons on her.

Shamima Kauser, Ishrat’s mother, said at the meet: “Since I know what our family has gone through after my daughter was abducted, killed and branded as a terrorist, I would only hope that other mothers do not have to go through this ordeal.”

Ishrat’s lawyer Vrinda Grover said it was only because of Shamima Kauser’s struggle and perseverance that the case has been alive for nine years. “Whenever I called Shamima to inform her that the High Court or Supreme Court had made some positive observations, she would only say that the truth about her daughter would come out one day. In June 2004, her daughter was killed and she filed a writ petition in the Gujarat High Court. If people are saying that truth is coming out when the 2014 elections are approaching, I can only say that the delay was due to the Gujarat government. No one wants to deal with such powerful forces.”

Ms. Grover said everyone was asking about Ishrat’s link with Javed Sheikh: “She came from a poor family and gave tuitions to support her family. During the month of June, students do not appear for tuitions in Maharashtra. So she wanted a part-time job. Since people in her locality knew that her father was not alive and the family was poor, someone introduced her to Javed Sheikh. She met him barely one month before the encounter killing. She had even enrolled in second year of B.Sc.”

Noting that no one was above the law of the land, Ms. Grover said it was recorded before a judicial magistrate that either the Chief Minister or a Minister of State had given instructions for the killings.

“We do not know who ordered Ishrat’s killing but the indications are there. We are repeatedly told about a clash of institutions. Senior IB officer Rajinder Kumar planted arms on her and others. As for Ishrat’s terror link, should we have faith in Lashkar-e-Taiba’s website or double agent [David Coleman] Headley?”

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