The Gujarat government has strongly reacted to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram's criticism of the State police on the alleged fake encounter, in which Ishrat Jehan and three others were killed in June 2004.

Cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said Mr. Chidambaram's remarks only underlined the Congress government's policy of appeasing the minorities.

Refuting the charge that the Centre's intelligence inputs did not give the Gujarat police any licence to "murder even if they are terrorists," Mr. Vyas said the Union Home Ministry's affidavit was filed in court after the June 2004 encounter, and there was no question of the police taking advantage of the Centre's stand.

Cites Centre's stand

Mr. Vyas pointed out that a couple of days ago, the Union Home Secretary reaffirmed the Centre's stand on the encounter to say that it stood by every word of the affidavit, in which the accomplices of Ishrat were described as operatives of the Pakistan-based terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. Mr. Chidambaram's criticism of the Gujarat police at this stage was uncalled for, because the High Court-appointed Special Investigation Team was having a fresh look at the incident, Mr. Vyas said.

Mr. Vyas was equally critical of Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily for his charge against Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Providing intelligence inputs was the Home Ministry's responsibility, and the Law Ministry was required to frame the legal terms for drafting the affidavit.

There was no justification for Mr. Moily to question the intelligence inputs, and it only demonstrated the lack of co-ordination between the two Ministries.

Citing the reports of various human rights commissions, Mr. Vyas wondered why the State police were being maligned so much for alleged fake encounters, when the reports pointed out that encounter killings in Gujarat were the lowest in the country in the past five years.

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