Don't you have any automations configured in your JIRA instance? I specifically think of custom event listener implemented with Script Runner that may update the field? Or any ScriptRunner Behaviour script in the frontend?
Or workflow transitions with a post function setting the field to the current date and time?
Is it reproducible when you edit the issues or does it happen only when you link them?
Any other (date)fields affected?
If you reindex JIRA, does anyhting change
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