The alleged fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan has dominated the media space for well over a decade now. It has often been used as a convenient stick to beat Narendra Modi and his state apparatus in Gujarat by the opposition, ‘non-aligned’ journalists and civil rights activists.There are two distinct points of conflict about the Ishrat case. One is whether she was part of the dreaded terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba and, secondly, if she and three other men were killed in a fake encounter or not. According to Ahmedabad Metropolitan court, the shootout was a fake encounter, a ruling which has been challenged by the state government in the Gujarat High Court.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An SIT formed to probe the case reported to the Gujarat High Court that the encounter was not genuine. CBI, in its chargesheet, also said that the encounter is fake but kept quiet about the terror links of Ishrat and three other men—Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar— who were gunned down near Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004, based on IB inputs.According to journalist PraveenSwami’s article, judge KS Tamang’s report was ‘full of mind-boggling nonsense”. Even the SIT has been smeared with ‘allegations of bias’. However, whether the encounter was an example of extrajudicial killings is not the moot point of Ishrat’s name making headlines on Thursday.David Headley during his deposition to a Mumbai court revealed that Ishrat Jahan was an LeT suicide bomber. The surprising bit is that the UPA government may have been aware of Headley saying this over five years ago while confessing to the FBI, although NIA reportedly deleted those controversial parts from Headley’s 117-page interrogation report. There have been accusations of the Congress government being rather economical with the truth behind the identity of Ishrat and her other ‘accomplices’.NCP leader Sharad Pawar proclaimed Ishrat as innocent during the 2014 polls while visiting Mumbra and accused Narendra Modi of targeting Muslims.Digvijay Singh too said nearly the same thing in 2013, when he asked the then Union Home Minister Shinde to find out the ‘true’ background of Ishrat. “The whole idea of the Gujarat Police and the then Joint Director of IB working together was only to raise the pitch and leadership of the Gujarat Chief Minister so that he becomes a hero in the mind of all people who believe that the terrorism and acts of terror are only being done by the Muslims,” said Digvijay Singh at that time.CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat inaugurated an ambulance service named after Ishrat Jahan and also proclaimed her innocent. JD(U) leader Ali Anwar reportedly hailed her as ‘Bihar ki beti’. All this while though the Gujarat police and IB maintained that Ishrat Jahan had terror links. Even former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai thought so in 2011, although he later calibrated his stance.The important question here is why the UPA government was not completely open about Ishrat Jahan’s identity. What compelled the Home Ministry to change the affidavit in the Gujarat High Court about the credibility of information regarding the identity of Ishrat and the others?Is it because the fake shooting angle was not enough to corner Modi that the Congress needed a clean slate with regard to her character? By willingly ignoring or undermining certain sets of claims or assertions and by playing up what suited them, the then ruling class played a cynical game. These are questions which have become relevant in the light of Headley’s deposition. From Batla house to the Ishrat case, did the practice of deeply cynical and pandering politics guide issues of national importance?There may be questions about Nikam’s line of questioning or the veracity of Headley’s claims, but the uncomfortable questions his ‘revelation’ has raised can no longer be brushed under the carpet by terming it ‘hearsay’. If DG Vanzara and his men indeed indulged in a fake encounter, they should be given due punishment. But the country deserves to know the true identity of Ishrat Jahan and the three others involved. Any effort to censor that information is a great disservice to all.