Ministry to re-study Ishrat Jehan encounter files

College student Ishrat Jehan's encounter killing in 2004 is being re-examined after a fresh political controversy over comments by G K Pillai, who was home secretary when the Congress-led UPA was in power.

Sources say the home ministry has asked for "all files" related to the killing of 19-year-old Ishrat and three others by Gujarat police officers who claimed those killed were part of a plan to assassinate Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the state at the time.

Pillai last week reportedly said that the Congress government's affidavit to the Gujarat High Court in 2009, which referred to Ishrat's alleged links with terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, was "changed at the political level".

A second affidavit filed within a month had no reference to the Lashkar connection.

P Chidambaram, then home minister, asserted on Monday that the second affidavit was "absolutely correct". He said, "As a minister I accept full responsibility for the affidavit and it is disappointing that the former home secretary who is equally responsible wants to distance himself from that now."

The ruling BJP alleges that the Congress government wanted to hide Ishrat's terror links as it ran contrary to the party's political line - that she was shot in cold blood on orders from the Gujarat government.

Some files on the case are being "traced", say government sources.

"The home ministry has taken cognizance of recent statements. The ministry will look through files and decide on the next course of action," said sources. The ministry, if required, can present fresh facts in court.

The government reportedly wants to find out whether Pillai had put up any dissent note on the statement to the court and why a second affidavit was filed.

Pillai's comments came days after US-based terrorist David Coleman Headley told a Mumbai court that Ishrat was an operative of the Lashkar e Taiba.

"As the former Home Secretary has revealed, Ishrat Jehan's name and connection with LeT were deliberately removed from the government report. On behalf of the party, I hope and wish there is a formal inquiry which fully establishes the truth," said BJP spokesperson M J Akbar.