New Delhi: Congress on Thursday dismissed BJP's demand for an apology by Sonia Gandhi in the wake of David Headley's claim that Ishrat Jahan was an LeT operative, insisting that the "fundamental question" was whether she and her accomplices were killed in "fake" encounter.
"If BJP wants to stand with those who have been accused by the CBI in a Gujarat High Court monitored process that they were accused or complicit in the fake encounter,... they can go and stand with them in a Court of Law."
"There is nothing which stops BJP from doing that. We are not a banana Republic, we are a country based on the rule of law and the rule of law does not permit fake encounters," party spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters.
Tewari said there are two separate and distinct issues which are involved - the first is whether Ishrat Jahan and her accomplices were LeT operatives or not.
"In the light of David Headley's statement, if the Government wants to investigate the matter further with regard to their credentials, there is absolutely nothing which is stopping the Government", he said.
But, he said the "fundamental question" remained whether Ishrat Jahan and her accomplices were killed in a "fake encounter".
He said the Metropolitan Court in Ahmedabad first came to the conclusion that this was a "staged encounter - in other words - a fake encounter."
Subsequently, the matter went to the Gujarat High Court and for two years, the Gujarat High Court monitored the CBI investigation and the agency came to the conclusion that the encounter was indeed fake and they have filed charge-sheets against the accused in an appropriate Court of Law, he said.
"So, therefore, if the Government or the BJP wants to use David Coleman Headley' testimony to justify an encounter which a court monitored investigation has found to be fake, then, I am afraid, neither the Law and nor jurisprudence allows it."
"If a person is a 'terrorist', he needs to be arrested, he needs to be tried, he needs to be brought to justice like Afzal Guru was brought to justice or Ajmal Kasab was brought to justice. But to try and justify a fake encounter, I am afraid, is something which the law does not permit," he added.
In a significant claim, Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley today said that Ishrat Jahan — who was killed in an alleged fake encounter in 2004 in Gujarat — was actually an Lashkar-e-Taiba operative.