After the SIT findings announcing that she died in a fake encounter

To the family of Ishrat Jahan, the findings of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that she died in a fake encounter has vindicated yet again its relentless efforts to wash the “blot” off Ishrat's name. It also held the promise of lives limping back to a semblance of normality.

“This is a third victory for us,” declared Musarrat, Ishrat's younger sister.

Ek dhabba laga tha. Hamari life barbaad hui[There was a blot on us. Our lives were ruined]. The report has brought us relief,” Ms. Musarrat toldThe Hinduon the phone from Patna.

“I knew it from the beginning Ishrat was innocent. Now the truth is before everyone. I am happy the truth has come out,” Ishrat's mother Shamima Kausar said.

This is the second time an official inquiry has announced that the encounter was fake. In 2009, the probe report of a magisterial inquiry in Ahmedabad had also concluded that the encounter was fake. In 2007, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, had reportedly denied in a statement that Ishrat was an LeT operative.

Ms. Shamima was “confident” about a fair probe. “Because we are honest,” she said.

“Ishrat was the light of our lives. We were very dejected. Now the blemish has gone away, but we will keep up the struggle till the end. We have a lot of support,” Ms. Shamima said.

The family has demanded the strictest punishment for those officers involved in the encounter. “Those officers and conspirators who killed my sister should be hanged so that no one does this to any family. We have been saying from the beginning that my sister was innocent and that she was murdered,” Raza Anwar Iqbal, Ishrat's younger brother said.

Went through hell

“We have gone through hell the past seven years. Nothing will compensate for those years lost,” said Anwar.

Ms. Musarrat recalled how bad times fell upon the family of four sisters, two brothers and a mother; and the gradual isolation imposed by society.

“The police had picked up those close to us as well, our relatives and friends. Therefore, people started to move away from us out of fear. Anwar had got a job. But the moment they learnt he was Ishrat's bother, the company said, ‘Sorry.' You can imagine we are four sisters. What we would have gone through. People are still sceptical. But the situation is getting somewhat better. I am sure things will be okay from now,” she said.

Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old college girl was shot dead on June 15, 2004 in Ahmedabad along with three others. She was a second year B.Sc. student at the time, aspiring to become a teacher.

The ‘encounter' was carried out by then Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) P.P. Pande, suspended Deputy Inspector General D.G. Vanzara, then Assistant Commissioner (ACP) of Police G.L. Singhal and ACP N.K. Amin — all IPS officers.