David Headley, an accused in the 26/11 attacks, in his testimony to a Mumbai court February 11, claimed that Ishrat Jahan was a Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist.
Ishrat, who lived in Mumbra near Mumbai, was killed with
three others in 2004 in Ahmedabad by the Gujarat police in
an alleged encounter. The Gujarat government, then headed
by chief minister Narendra Modi, has all along maintained
that she and the others killed with her were terrorists.
Vrinda Grover, the lawyer for Ishrat’s family, spoke to Syed
Firdaus Ashraf/India Abroad about Headley’s testimony.
How do you see Headley’s testimony in court?
There is nothing in the testimony.
Where is he saying anything? He says, ‘I don’t know, I don’t
know.’ He says ‘I overheard somebody’s speech.’ Is this evidence? This is double hearsay.
He still does not give any name. He is then given multiple
choice questions to answer and then he answers. This is not
evidence under Indian law.
But the Bharatiya Janata Party appears thrilled about
Headley’s testimony against Ishrat Jahan.
Because if this (the Ishrat Jahan encounter) investigation is
So is Ishrat Jahan innocent or not? After Headley’s testimo-
really carried out further, it points to the heart of the BJP’s
political leadership. And therefore they want to distract you
and say ‘terrorist, terrorist.’
Ajmal Kasab was a known terrorist. We gave him a trial
and we did not shoot him dead. Why does the BJP run scared
of this case?
ny, many Indians will believe she was a terrorist, isn’t it?
Headley does not know. He says, ‘I don’t know,. I overheard
some people talking about somebody.’ He still doesn’t name
her. Please look at the questions put up by the public prosecutor and the answers given by Headley.
The BJP has always been misleading the nation. What
can I say?
How is the Ishrat Jahan case related to the 26/11 case? She
was killed in June 2004, whereas the 26/11 attacks occurred
four years and five months later, on November 26, 2008.
That is a very pertinent question. The reason will be
explained if you look at who the public prosecutor was —
Ujjwal Nikam who was recently awarded the Padma Shri. It
has nothing to do with 26/11.
Why were these questions posed today? It’s only to do with
politics. It’s got nothing to do with India’s national security.
So, you think what happened February 11 was a political
I think the prosecutor should answer this. What he has got
on record is still not evidence, and only political mileage can
be got out of it.
Why can’t we trust Headley? He has turned an approver in
the 26/11 case.
Headley is not saying anything and before you ask me all
this, why don’t you read all what happened in court today?
I will, but why don’t you explain briefly for our readers what
happened in court today?
Headley is saying, ‘I don’t know.’ Then he is asked (by the
public prosecutor), do you know about a botched-up opera-
tion? He then says I heard Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi and
Muzammil Bhatt (the 26/11 accused) talk about something,
and he says ‘but I don’t know where this happened.’
He then says there was some botched-up operation and
some female member was killed, but I can’t recall the place.
Then Headley is given a multiple choice question by the
prosecutor. He says, ‘I will give you three names, was it one
of them? Nusrat Begum, Mumtaz or Ishrat Jahan.’ Then
Headley says Ishrat Jahan.
Is this evidence? What kind of game are you playing? Is
this Kaun Banega Crorepati or evidence?
This is the nature of questioning that has happened in
court. Headley was asked do you know that the Le T has a
female suicide member, Headley says no.
This is all in the court’s transcript that I am reading.
Then he is asked, ‘Do you know the name of the female suicide member of Le T’ and he says, ‘I do not know.’ And then
he is given three names. The man is saying, ‘I don’t know’!
What have the courts so far ruled in the Ishrat Jahan
The courts are not proceeding in the trial ever since the
government changed. I don’t know why that happens, but it
does. There are charge-sheets pending against Gujarat police
officers and the Intelligence Bureau.
Has the trial in the Ishrat Jahan case come to a halt?
The trial has not started. The accused are 11 Gujarat police
officers and four Intelligence Bureau men.
But somewhere, public opinion will be built against Ishrat
Jahan after Headley’s testimony, isn’t it?
That is exactly what the BJP wants to do. Where is the evidence? The media has to show the public that this testimony
You are directly accusing the BJP. But we are depending on
Headley’s testimony to convict Abu Jundal, the other accused
in the 26/11 attacks. If we can trust Headley there, why cannot
we trust him in the Ishrat Jahan case?
Correct, I agree. You can trust him if he says so. What is a
witness? A witness knows something that has happened,
something in front of him or which he has directly heard or
which he has done.
What is Headley saying? He is saying I heard two other
men talking about something. Is this evidence?
Look at all his evidence in the 26/11 case, he is saying he
knows who in the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) was doing
That is what I am trying to impress upon you. Please
understand you are a journalist. You cannot be swayed by the
I understand, but since we are depending on Headley’s tes-
timony to convict Abu Jundal, then why...
(Interrupts) Correct, because Headley knew what Jundal
has done. Headley doesn’t know anything about (Ishrat
Were you surprised to hear Headley speaking about Ishrat
Not at all. I had been waiting for it. I am surprised it did
not come out on the first day.
You knew this would come out?
Of course. The BJP has been saying it for the last four
‘If this (the Ishrat Jahan
encounter) investigation is really
carried out further, it points to
the heart of the BJP’s political
leadership. And therefore they
want to distract you and say
Beware! ISI may try to attack Indian scientists again
‘Pakistan may have
moved back from
this devilish plot in
2007, but there is
no guarantee it
won’t be on the
Pakistani-American terror- ist David Coleman Headl- ey’s second round of testi- mony via video conferencing from an undisclosed destination in the United States Tuesday,
February 9, is even more damning
than his deposition on Monday.
His latest disclosures have the
potential of putting the Pakistani
military establishment in a dog-
house, but it won’t happen. We will
take up this point a little later, but
first let’s have a brief run down of
what more has come out of
Headley’s stable on Tuesday.
Headley has not only given fresh
names of Pakistan army and Inter
Services Intelligence officers with
whom he was in regular touch for
planning and preparing for terrorist acts in India, but has also given
details how the Indian defence establishment has been on the radar
of the lethal nexus of the Pakistani
State and non-State actors.
Perhaps the most disturbing
Pakistani terror plot that Headley
has blown the lid off is that a meet-
ing of Indian defence scientists at
Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel a year
before the 26/11 attacks was to be
targeted. He had even done the re-
cce for this operation, but it could
not be launched because if logisti-
Had this operation been launched, Pakistan would have had the
opportunity of wiping out top Indian defence scientists in one stroke.
It shows how nervous the Pakistani military establishment is
about the impressive work done by
Indian defence scientists.
It also shows the perils of hosting
big conferences of defense scien-
tists and underlines the need for
not having such meetings without
an elaborate and multi-layer secu-
After all, Pakistan may have
moved back from this devilish plot
in 2007, but there is no guarantee
that it won’t be on the drawing
boards in Rawalpindi (where the
Pakistan army’s headquarters is
based) ever again.
The other information Headley
‘Headley’s testimony on
Ishrat Jahan is like KBC ’