Chidambaram admits to ''editorial'' changes in Ishrat Jahan files

Last week, Rajnath Singh had announced in the Lok Sabha that an internal inquiry will be conducted in this regard.

Chidambaram admits to ''editorial'' changes in Ishrat Jahan files

New Delhi/Mumbai: Former finance minister P Chidambaram on Monday admitted to having made "editorial" changes to the affidavits filed in the Ishrat Jahan case.

Chidambaram was replying to a question at the launch of a book "Standing Guard - A Year in Opposition" written by him at a hotel in Mumbai.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday ordered an `internal inquiry` to probe how files concerning the affidavits filed in the Ishrat Jahan case have gone missing, said informed sources.

Former home secretary GK Pillai had also claimed that there was "political interference" in the case which led to the deletion of reference to Lashkar-e-Taiba from the revised affidavit filed in 2009.

"Tell me which part of the affidavit is wrong, which sentence of the affidavit is wrong. Nobody is alleging against me. The officer who said that he did not know anything about the affidavit, is on record in Guwahati in July 13, 2013 saying that the second affidavit was perfectly justified," said Chidambaram.

"He has changed his view. In a free country, a person is entitled to change his view. The second affidavit was vetted by the attorney general of India. No part of the second affidavit was wrong," he added.

Chidambaram further said: "It was drafted, went to the attorney general, came to me. I, with a compulsive habit of all lawyers, made small `editorial` changes. This is a habit of all lawyers. Any lawyer would put a comma here and there or strike out a word.

"I don`t think any of the files that came to me went back without making a change. That is a habit to make small changes here and there. Then the file went back to the home secretary. The files passed the home secretary`s table at least three times."

"And now they say those papers are missing. To whose advantage has the vetted draft gone missing? I want the vetted draft. To whose interest is to say that the draft is missing? There is nothing to hide. I think the mystery has been unravelled now," he added.

On March 10, the home minister had told the Lok Sabha that "two letters from the then home secretary to the attorney general in 2009 have gone missing. The then attorney general had vetted two affidavits regarding the case. Those are also not available".

Last week, Rajnath Singh had announced in the Lok Sabha that an internal inquiry will be conducted in this regard.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and home ministry officials had alleged recently that the UPA government did a flip flop over the controversial 2004 shootout in which Ishrat, then a student of a Mumbai college and allegedly a Lashkar-e-Toiba operative, was killed.

"Now tell me, which part of that affidavit is wrong? Which sentence of that affidavit is wrong?" Chidambaram said.

On the rising intolerance in the country, he said we as a nation have always been intolerant, but what is worrying now is that it is being justified.

"If the ABVP (the students wing of the ruling BJP) has its way, then our universities will become monasteries of one religion, one god and one book," he said in response to the sedition controversy involving JNU students union leader Kanhaiya Kumar.

He said as a mature nation, we have to understand that universities will be places of ferment and fierce debates.

The former Union Finance Minister also urged the Prime Minister to believe in two-way communication, engage more with the media but conceded that communication was also a problem with the UPA government.

He rued that "the bane of our democracy is that we have started looking at the Opposition as an enemy".

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