| Ishrat’s sisters, Zeenat Jahan Raza (right) and Nuzhat Jahan Raza, at their residence. (Reuters)
Ahmedabad/ Thiruvananthapuram/New Delhi, June 18: Shamima came to take her 19-year-old daughter’s body home. Instead, the sobbing mother was taken away for interrogation by crime branch officials.
More than two hours later, she emerged from the Gaekwad Haveli office of the crime branch in Ahmedabad crying that her daughter was innocent and that those who had killed her were the terrorists.
Ishrat Raza was on Tuesday shot dead by Gujarat police who claimed she was on a mission to kill Narendra Modi.
Shamima Jahan Sheikh’s lawyer said he would write to the National Human Rights Commission about the “fake encounter” and seek a CBI probe.
He will not need to do this.
Taking suo motu cognizance of allegations that the encounter was fake, the NHRC today sought a report from Gujarat police.
Shamima arrived at 10.45 am with 10 “social workers” from Mumbra to claim her daughter’s body. But what was to be a “small formality” turned into a two-hour grilling. No one — not even her lawyer — was present during the interrogation.
Shamima told investigators her daughter was innocent and that grave injustice had been done. Coming out, she demanded a CBI inquiry.
Rauf Lala, a social worker from Mumbra, claimed that on Saturday — the day Ishrat is believed to have left home — a Gujarat police team was seen in Mumbra, insinuating that the four killed in the “encounter” were kidnapped by the police.
A senior crime branch official dismissed the allegation.
Asked why Shamima could not say what her daughter was doing in Ahmedabad, a social worker accompanying her said she probably feared that Ishrat had eloped and did not want people to know. Ishrat knew Javed, one of the others killed, well.
Javed’s father, M.R. Gopinath Pillai, insisted his son was innocent. “He couldn’t kill a fowl. If, by chance, he had strayed into extremism, let him bear the punishment,” he said. “But before we condemn him, let there be a proper inquiry.”
“The last I saw him was when he had driven down from Pune in the Indica on May 30. He had come to fetch his eldest son, eight-year-old Siddik Mohammed Javed, who was here to spend the vacation. He left the next Saturday (June 5) with his wife and sons,” said the father who lives in a house on a five-acre rubber plantation in Kerala.
Javed’s elder brother Aravindan, a hotel employee in Kovalam, said: “It’s unthinkable that Pranesh (as Javed was known before his conversion) would ever join a killer gang. He had no need for money because when he left his job as cable jointer with the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority over six months ago, he was quite affluent and bought two flats in Pune. He must have been trapped.”
Javed had opened a textiles shop in Pune after returning from Dubai. He closed it recently.
Once he had converted, Javed was a devout Muslim but no fanatic, Gopinath said, recalling how his son would often drive him to the Shiva temple. “Pranesh was a great cricket fan. He never smoked, never drank. How can he be a terrorist'” he sobbed.