“The brutal and bone chilling action”, the High Court bench noted while delivering the justice to Hashimpura massacre victims on October 31, 2018 at Delhi High Court. This is one of the worst communal riots happened in Meerut, Utter Pradesh during May 1987. The riots were continued for a week and more than 350 people were killed or lost during arson and killing. During the week long riots, a PAC platoon rounded up Muslims and separated old and children. Took 42 - 45 young Muslim men and shot one by one and dumped in Gang Nagar irrigation canal. Five survivors were escaped with injuries by swimming and 38 of them were found floating after couple of days.
The survivors recounts the horrific tales of one of the infamous massacres that has happened in India. They were loaded on trucks after gathered by Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel and taken to two different places. While PAC was shooting them on point blank using .303 rifles on a roadside, but have forced them to flee with the remaining Muslim men due to passing vehicles headlights. They further took them to the canal side and continued the summary execution of remaining men. “They were unlawfully detained, kept in a PAC truck and asked to keep their heads down and not allowed to move”, bench comprised of honourable justices S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel said in their judgment.
Hashimpura case was like any other communal riot cases in India being forgotten by all others except the survivors and victim’s families. Thankfully was not allowed to die down in the long intimidating, hideous and exhausting journey towards seeking justice with its own twist and turns. The case had its own up and downs right from the visiting of then former PM Rajiv Ghandhi and was investigated by a three members commission including IK Gujral, who had become Prime Minister of the country in later period. The case was delayed by not allocating public prosecutor by then state governments and declined the sanctioning of prosecuting PAC accused personnels despite of several bailable and non bailable warrants were issued by subsequent courts. The case got its proper trial after Mayawati, then CM of UP issued order to prosecute the PAC personnels.
Though the massacre have happened in 1987, the charge sheets are filed in year 1996 after CB-CID investigations and the case was tried at Ghaziabad criminal court. Supreme Court transfers the trial case to Delhi on a petition filed by victim’s families and survivors fearing that they may not get fair justice at Ghaziabad, UP. In year May 2006, charges were framed against all accused for murder and other offences. In March 2013, the Delhi court acquits all the accused sighting the witnesses were unable to identify the PAC personnels. In May 2015, victim’s families challenged the trial court verdict in Delhi High Court. The High Court reserved the verdict on September 2018 and on Wednesday October 31, 2018 convicted sixteen former PAC personnel for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Thank to Indian courts, at least the judgment is delivered before the survivors and accused dies. Many of us may express satisfaction considering the prolonging legal hurdles, battles, witnesses endurance capabilities against all odds of political and criminal intimidation in India.
The bench also observed that ‘Indeed, their 31 years of waiting for justice may have eroded their faith in the state machinery’ is perhaps one among many observations by none other than legal custodians in India. Current macro incidents like Supreme Court judges press meet, CBI officers against CBI officers and pending cases in court are all increasing the doubts on the possibility of getting fair investigation and justice.
Justice can be achieved in lesser period, if the vote bank politics are avoided by all political parties.
Modern India can not afford to build on continued injustices to innocents, illiterates, weak and poor. More than building monuments, India need a fair and people government that gives confidence to every section of society and community to live and grow together.
To see the pictures, click the below link: