Hashimpura Judgment in India: Justice Denied

After 28 years of the Hashimpura massacre of Muslims by UP Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) men, a Delhi court decided last week that nobody was guilty of the massacre.

Hashimpura Judgment in India: Justice Denied

Monavvar Alam

“Hashimpura judgment has shaken my faith in Indian judicial system. It came as a deadly blow to all of us who were expecting justice for so long and wanted exemplary punishment for the murderers and culprits, who had committed such inhuman acts,” said Sanjay Kumar, a famous political activist.

Certainly, the decision of a Delhi court that came on 21st March, 2015, after an excruciatingly long period of waiting for 29 years, not only surprised but shocked all the people who were concerned with the case.

Additional Sessions Judge Sanjay Jindal acquitted sixteen Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel, accused in 1987 Hashimpura massacre in which over 42 innocent Muslims were brutally killed in the night of 22 May 1987, without any apparent reason or provocation, from the charges of murder under the Indian Penal Code. It was a travesty of justice, to say the least.

According to the media reports published after the incident, a group of men were rounded up by the Army and the police from the Muslim dominated Hashimpura area of the Meerut city, which came under Ghaziabad district that time, and handed over to the personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) of the Uttar Pradesh. The PAC personnel took one such truck of men to the outskirts, at the banks of a nearby canal in Murad Nagar, and shot all of them at close range. Forty-two innocent people of Hashimpura locality were shot dead in perhaps the single largest custodial killing in the history of independent India. Their dead bodies were dumped in water canals. A few days later dead bodies were found floating in the canals.

In spite of the fact that it was almost an open and shut case, which hardly required much investigation, it took three years for 16 of the 19 accused to surrender before the law, in May 2000. They were later released on bail, while 3 of them were already dead. Again it took another six years when the first Chargesheet was filed before Chief Judicial Magistrate Ghaziabad. Later, the trial of the case was transferred by the Supreme Court of India in 2002 from Ghaziabad to a Sessions Court at the Tis Hazari complex in Delhi, where it is the oldest pending case. In July 2006, the court had framed charges of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy against all the accused.

According to Athar Husain, a Muslim intellectual and head of the Centre for Objective Research (CORD), the verdict of the Tis Hazari Court presents us with a catch-22 situation. He says, "If the entire episode is viewed with the single objective of delivering justice, then justice has not been done, whatever the grounds such as the culprits could not be identified because of darkness, etc. For the victims and their dependents, it means gross disappointment. For the perpetrators, it is an indication that one can get away with an incident of this magnitude."

Now, like Hussain, other Muslim community leaders have taken the decision very seriously and feel the need for a comprehensive law on communal violence. Uttar Pradesh’s prominent Shia leader Maulana Kalbe Jawwad has gone to the extent of saying that such incidents indicate that no government is the well-wisher of Muslims. Especially the dependents of the victims feel cheated and very disappointed now. They think they were denied justice after so many years. In support of their heart-felt cries, the Lucknow-based IPS officer, Amitabh Thakur, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav requesting them to provide justice to the victims of Hashimpura. He said the recovery of bodies was "an undisputed fact" and yet, "even after 28 years, our vast and huge criminal justice system has not been able to find out who committed this grotesque crime". The special public prosecutor has, however, also indicated that the verdict may be challenged in a higher court for which the relevant process would start soon.

It is worth recalling here that after the then Central government under the Congress Prime MInister Rajiv Gandhi ordered the unlocking of the disputed Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya, the year 1987 became a watershed year with respect to communal politics in India. The whole atmosphere was charged with politicians-generated communal hatred between Hindus and Muslims who wanted to take full advantage of the situation in their electoral arithmetic. In order to further add fuel to the fire, the openly communal and biased Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel were deployed in the state of Uttar Pradesh to “control and manage” the communal situation there.

The then Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad, and police in-charge of the area, Vibhuti Narain Rai, who says that this incident has changed his entire life, recalls the Hashimpura massacre as a deadly "nightmare". In a write-up, which was published in a blog, IndiaResists.com, he narrates a blood chilling story of that fateful night. He recalls the sight of Babbudin, a Muslim survivor stuck amid a pile of freshly-shot and bleeding bodies in a stream and feigning as dead person when his police search team reached the spot of massacre in the middle of night after hearing about the incident.

One can truly feel the chill down the spine after reading the statement of Babuddin which he later gave to Rai and his police team and sheds clear light about what could have happened on that fateful night : "That day during the regular checking around 50 people were made to sit in the PAC truck they all thought that they were being taken to a station or a jail. The truck was taken off the main road about 45 minutes from Makanpur and stopped at distance down the road. The PAC men leapt down from the truck and ordered them to get down. Only half the people had hardly got off when the PAC men started firing on them. The people still on the truck took cover. Babbudin was one of them. He could only guess what would have happened to the people who got off. The sounds of the firing probably reached the neighboring villages as a result of which noises started coming from them. The PAC people again got on the truck and sped off towards Ghaziabad. Here it came to the Makanpur stream and the PAC again ordered everyone to get off. This time the horrified prisoners refused to get off so they were pulled and dragged from the truck. The one who came out were shot and thrown in the stream and the ones who didn't were shot on the truck and thrown off."

It is really a sad story of innocent people and treatment meted out to them by the police and army personnel, who are supposed to maintain the law and order. Both the iniquitous judgment and the three-decade long delay denied the justice to the victims in the ‘free and democratic India’.



Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Temmuz 2015, 16:16