When the nation woke up to June 16
morning in 2004, they were greeted by screaming media headlines and
photos of four 'Deadly Terrorists' and 'LeT operatives' lying dead
on Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway. One of them was Ishrat Jahan - an
undergraduate girl student of Khalsa college Mumbai. They were,
according to the intelligence report, 'on a mission to assassinate
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi'.
As always, however, the 'Terrorists failed in
their Mission'. But not before they provided enough fodder to a
section in the country - that seemingly exists across the political
parties and the government machineries in India - to brand the whole
Indian Muslim community as 'Bunch Of Terrorists'.
'Muslim Terrorists on a mission to
kill Hindu Patriarch Narendra Modi', the incident publicized with
this motive, was once again cleverly exploited not only to get
political mileage but also to frame every living Muslim on Indian
soil. TV channels were repeating the phootage of the incident again
and again, as if to further substantiate, 'look not only the Muslim men
but how the Muslim girls too are becoming Terrorists and are
up in arms against Advani, Modi & Co. - The Hindu Heroes'.
Rest all that followed is
a history, revisiting our memories once again after
Magistrate S.P. Tamang in his probe termed the whole incident
as managed and the entire official theory as nothing but a blatant
Post incident, the most traumatic time was for the family of Ishrat Jahan - the young girl who, as Tamang says in his report,
was not a terrorist but cold-bloodedly murdered by Gujarat cops to
secure promotions and perks from the state. The trauma, the shock,
the neighbors who became strange and the locality that all of a
sudden turned hostile, Ishrat's sister Musarrat revealed everything
when she appeared for ETV Urdu's talk show Guftgu on
September 20 - just a day before Eid al Fitr last Monday.
Musarrat began recalling how the
family of five sisters and two brothers with an aged mother was
going through a trauma of everyday after her father died of brain
tumor in 2002.
When Ishart's sister Musarrat burst into tears
Musarrat remained totally unruffled during the entire conversation.
However she lost her nerve when Zafar asked, how her mother reacted
to the incident. "We just had no courage to tell mom what had
happened to Ishrat aapi", Musarrat could just recall and
burst into tears.
"Mom with our eldest sister was
working in a packaging company for 12 hours a day. Ishrat aapi
was working in a local tuition classes besides giving private
tuition to around 30 students at our house", Musarrat said while replying to anchor Zafar Agha's
"At times, we would not have food for
an entire day. Yet, we never begged to anyone for help. We were
satisfied that everything would be all right once we complete our
education. Even the students taking tuition at our house could not
know the financial crisis we were going through", she said.
"And then, one fateful evening Ishrat
aapi was introduced to Javed Shaikh by the kin of a student",
Javed Shaikh, Gujarat police later
alleged on the basis of some intelligence inputs, was a LeT
operative and the man who took Ishrat to the destructive path of
terrorism. Javed offered Ishrat to work with him as an accountant
for a firm, which according to Musarrat, was still to establish.
Together they had also traveled to Lucknow and Pune for few days.
"It was on such a similar tour Ishrat left the house on June 11,
2004 for Nashik. In Nashik, while waiting for Javed Shaikh at bus
station she called us on phone telling she noticed some unknown
people mysteriously watching her. Ten minutes later, she rang again
and informed she could see Javed coming from the opposite side",
"After that we never heard anything
from Ishrat. On June 16 morning, we suddenly found a large number of reporters and TV
crews gathering at our house. They were bombarding questions about Ishtrat.
They said uska
encounter ho gaya hai", said Musarrat. "We were not mature
enough to comprehend
what actually an encounter meant. It was only when they showed us
the newspaper photographs - of Ishrat along with three others lying
dead on the road under the pool of blood - that we realized what
had actually happened to aapi", a composed Musarrat said.
Musarrat remained totally unruffled
during the entire conversation. However she lost her nerve when
Zafar asked about her mother's reaction to the incident.
"We just could not find the courage to
tell mom what had happened to Ishrat aapi", Musarrat
could just recall and burst into tears.
The beleaguered family now had the tag
of being kin of A TERRORIST. Henceforth, in Musarrat's own words, "Khushi
hamare ghar plat kar phir kabhi nahi aayee." Shocked and unable to decide what to
do, the family was totally unaware that a new set of trauma was
also waiting to unleash upon them.
"Police came, sealed our house, took
us to the police station and recorded our statements tell 02:00 late
night. Later, they told us to stay the night in the police station
or somewhere else, but not in our house", Musarrat went on.
"We found it difficult to stay in the
police station any further. Hence we spent the
entire night outside while our sealed house gazed at us. That no one
came to our rescue was because they were afraid, helping us is akin
to inviting the trouble", Musarrat said.
"Next morning police came once again
and almost ransacked the entire house," Musarrat recalled. "Ishrat
aapi's belongings were their main target. They could not find
anything objectionable besides aapi's textbooks and
notebooks. They plundered the entire house and took everything of
aapi's along", Musarrat could remember.
But police claimed they had found a
diary in which Ishrat had noted down the entire plan, Zafar noted.
"We were never informed about any such thing being seized from our
house", Musarrat replied to this.
Things moved on. The incident after
making headlines for few weeks vanished from people's minds.
However, for Ishrat's family, everyday had a new form of TERROR
reserved for them. Circumstances forced them to abandon the society
they were living in. Also to desert the schools they were in and the
careers they were aspiring for. And they are left to work for some
petty jobs in return for few thousand rupees to earn their
After five years, the family received
a breather in the form of Metropolitan Magistrate S.P. Tamang's
report. It also proved short-lived because the report
was stayed over by the Gujarat High Court immediately after its
Like Ishrat's, there are dozen
other families in India whose near and dear ones are either
killed in similar encounters or are lingering in jails since years
allegedly because they, like Ishrat, were involved in terrorist
activities. Does the Indian government have the courage to
investigate all these incidents?