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Page last updated at 05:22 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 06:22 UK

Indians 'killed in staged clash'

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
Police say the victims were involved in a plot to kill Gujarat's chief minister.

A female student and three others were killed by police in a "staged" encounter in the Indian state of Gujarat, a judicial probe has found.

Ishrat Jahan Raza was one of four people shot dead by Gujarat police in 2004 on suspicion of being part of a banned Pakistani-based militant group.

Relatives maintained the victims were killed by police in a staged clash, commonly known as "fake encounters".

Police in Gujarat have denied the allegation.

They say the victims were members of the banned Pakistani-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

But a judicial probe into the incident has named a senior Gujarat police officer, among others, in connection with the "cold-blooded murder" of the 19-year-old student and three others.

The probe by judge SP Tamag said that police had "kidnapped" the student and three others in the city of Mumbai (Bombay).

They were then taken to Ahmedabad, Gujarat's main city, and killed in "police custody", the probe said.

'Plot'

Ms Raza's mother said she was happy that her daughter's "innocence had been proved".

"This is the first step towards towards justice. We want to remove the stain that my daughter has been branded a terrorist," Shamima Kausar said.

The four were killed in "police custody", the probe said. But the police claimed that they were killed in an "encounter" in Ahmedabad

Human rights groups have repeatedly expressed concerns about so-called "fake encounters" whereby security forces are accused of unprovoked killings in staged clashes.

Police say that Ms Raza and the others who were killed were involved in a plot to kill the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi.

The Gujarat high court has appointed a committee of three senior policemen for a fresh investigation into the killings and asked it to submit its report by the end of November.

The four were driving near Ahmedabad airport when they were intercepted.

Later police in Mumbai said Ms Raza had no criminal background and had never been involved in any terrorist activity, as claimed by the police in Gujarat.



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