Hashimpura massacre

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Hashimpura massacre took place on 22 May 1987, during the Hindu-Muslim riots in Meerut city in Uttar Pradesh state, India, when 19 personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) allegedly rounded up 42 Muslim youth from the Hashimpura mohalla (locality) of the city, took them in truck to the outskirts, near Murad Nagar, in Ghaziabad district, where they were shot and their bodies were dumped in water canals. A few days later dead bodies were found floating in the canals. In May 2000, 16 of the 19 accused surrendered, and were later released on bail, while 3 were already dead. 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,[1][2] where it is the oldest pending case.[3]

On 24 May 2007, twenty years after the incident, two survivors and members of 36 victim families visited Lucknow and filed 615 applications under The Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI), at the office of Director General of Police seeking information about the case.[4] The inquiry revealed in September that all accused remained in service, and none had any mention of the incident in their Annual Confidential Report (ACR)s.[5] Five men who were shot and survived, later became witness for the prosecution case in 2007. These include Muzib-ur-Rehman, Mohamad Usman, Zulfiqar Nasir, and Naeem Arif.[6]

The incident[edit]

“We were sorted out on the basis of our strength and physique, while elders and children were picked up and set free. The youth were grouped together and put in a yellow PAC truck. ”.."was pulled out of the truck, shot at twice and thrown into the Ganga stream”.

- Mohamad Usman, prosecution witness and survivor, 2007[7]

After communal riots had taken over Meerut in April 1987, in a communally charged atmosphere after the Babri Mosque at Ayodhya was opened by the Central government for worship by Hindus after several decades; PAC was called in, but was withdrawn as the riots subsided. However violence erupted again around 19 May, when 10 Hindus were killed as arson escalated, thus Army was called out to stage a flag march. Seven companies of CRPF has reached the city during the day, while 30 companies of PAC were being rushed in and indefinite curfew was declared.[8] In the following day, mobs burned down Gulmarg cinema hall, and as the death toll rose to 22 and 75 injured, shoot-at-sight orders were issued on 20 May 1987. Union Urban Development Minister, Mohsina Kidwai, and member of the Lok Sabha from Meerut constituency,with Abdul Khaliq Mufti,General Secretary of Jamiat-e-ulemai Hind Uttar Pradesh after visiting the city stated, she had never seen "such a horrible face of arson before in my life".[9]

On the night of 22 May 1987, 19 PAC personnel, under platoon commander Surinder Pal Singh, rounded up Muslims in the Hashimpur mohalla in Meerut, the old and the children were later separated and let go. Then they allegedly took about 40–45 of them, mostly daily wage labourers and weavers, in a truck to the Upper Ganga canal in Murad Nagar, Ghaziabad district, instead of taking them to the police station. Here some of them were shot, one by one, and thrown into the canal. A bullet also injured one of the PAC constables. After some were killed, the headlights of passing vehicles made PAC personnel flee the spot with those alive. Four of those shot escaped, either by pretending dead and then swimming away, one of them filed a first information report (FIR) at the Murad Nagar Police Station.[4][7][10]

The remaining men were next taken in the truck to the Hindon River Canal near Makanpur village in Ghaziabad, shot and their bodies thrown into the canal. Here again, two of the persons who were shot at, survived and lodged an FIR at the Link Road Police Station.[4][7][10][11]

Aftermath[edit]

As the news of the incident spread across the media, minority rights organisations and human right organisation voiced their outrage.[1] Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited the city and the riot affected areas on 30 May along with Chief Minister Vir Bahadur Singh .[12] Human rights body, People's Union for Civil Liberties(PUCL) appointed an investigation committee comprising the then President of PUCL (former Justice) Rajindar Sachar, I K Gujral (who later became Prime Minister of India), and others, and the committee brought out its report on 23 June 1987.

In 1988, the Government of Uttar Pradesh ordered an inquiry by the Crime Branch Central Investigation Department (CBCID) of Uttar Pradesh Police. The three-member official investigation team headed by former auditor general Gian Prakash submitted its report in 1994,[13] though it wasn't made public till 1995, when victims moved the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court.[3]

During the CBCID inquiry, Sub-Inspector Virendra Singh, then in charge of the Link Road Police Station, stated that upon receiving information about the incident he headed towards the Hindon Canal, where he saw a PAC truck heading back from the site. When he chased the truck, he saw it enter 41st Vahini camp of the PAC. Vibhuti Narain Rai, Superintendent of Police, Ghaziabad, and Naseem Zaidi, District Magistrate, Ghaziabad, also reached 41st Vahini and tried tracing the truck through senior PAC officers, but to no avail.[1] In its report, the CB-CID recommended prosecution of 37 employees of the PAC and the police department, and 1 June 1995, the government gave permission for 19 of them to be prosecuted. Subsequently, on 20 May 1997, Chief Minister Mayawati, gave permission for prosecution of the remaining 18 officials.[14]

Court case[edit]

After the inquiry, chargesheet was filed with the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Ghaziabad in 1996 under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), who subsequently issued warrants to the accused policemen to appear before the court. Bailable warrants were issued 23 times against them between 1994 and 2000, yet none of them appeared in court. This was followed by non-bailable warrants which were issued 17 times between April 1998 and April 2000, to no avail. Eventually, under public pressure, 16 of the accused surrendered before the Ghaziabad court in 2000, and were subsequently released on bail and were back in service.[3][15]

In 2001, after inordinate delay in pre-trial proceedings at Ghaziabad,[16] kins of victims and survivors filed a petition before the Supreme Court for transferring the case from Ghaziabad to New Delhi stating that the conditions there would be more conducive, which the Supreme Court granted in September, 2002. But the case couldn't start, as the state government didn't appoint a Special Public Prosecutor for the case till November 2004, though he was later replaced by S. Adlakha, as the former was found to be under-qualified.[17] Finally, in May 2006, charges were filed against all the accused PAC men for murder, conspiracy to murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence etc. under Sections 302/ 120B/ 307/ 201/ 149/ 364/ 148/ 147 of the Indian Penal Code, and the trial listed to begin in July.[3]

On 15 July 2006, the day when the trial was to begin, it was deferred to 22 July by Additional Sessions Judge N P Kaushik of Delhi Sessions Court, after the prosecution said authorities in Uttar Pradesh are yet to send important case material to Delhi.[3] He also issued notices both to the Chief Secretary and Law Secretary of Uttar Pradesh state seeking an explanation as to "why this case has not been dealt with appropriately on an urgent basis".[16] Later, when on 15 July, the trials began, and when one of four survivors, Zulfikar Nasser deposed in front of additional sessions judge N. P. Kaushik at the Tis Hazari, three of the 19 original accused including platoon commander Surender Pal Singh, under whose instructions the massacre was allegedly committed, were already dead.[15] Later on the second day, when the case property was sought by the judge, it was revealed that the rifles used had already been redistributed amongst the jawans of 41-B Vahini Battalion of the PAC (to which the accused belonged), after forensic analysis by CFSL Hyderabad.[2] As per a survivor witness Mohamad Usman, who deposed in February 2007,.."after three boys were pulled out and shot point blank the others in the truck started screaming so the PAC jawans opened fire to quieten them".[7]

By May 2010, 63 of the 161 persons listed as witnesses, by CB-CID of Uttar Pradesh Police, which investigated the case had been examined. On 19 May 2010, 4 witnesses in the case recorded their statements in front of Additional Sessions Judge, Manu Rai Sethi at a Delhi Court. These include Sirajuddin, Abdul Gaffar, Abdul Hamid and the then Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Law and Order G L Sharma.[10][18]

On 16 October 2012 Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy moved Delhi court seeking probe into the alleged role of Union Minister of State for Home at the time, P.Chidambaram's in the Hashmirpura massacre.[19]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Justice out of sight". Frontline (magazine). Volume 22 – Issue 10, 7–20 May 2005. 
  2. ^ a b "Hashimpura massacre: Rifles given to PAC". The Times India. 27 Jul 2006. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "20 years delayed, trial put off again". The Indian Express. 16 July 2006. "“This is the oldest case pending in Delhi and yet the prosecuting agency is still slow.." – ASJ Kaushik, July 22, 2007." 
  4. ^ a b c "Hashimpura survivors file 615 RTI applications in 20 years long pursuit of justice". Asian Tribune. 25 May 2007. 
  5. ^ "Hashimpura: 20 years later, accused cops yet to face action". The Indian Express. 5 Sep 2007. 
  6. ^ "4th witness deposes in Hashimpura massacre case". The Indian Express. 10 March 2007. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Hashimpura massacre: Witness says shot twice, dumped in stream". The Indian Express. 10 February 2007. 
  8. ^ "10 Killed In Meerut Clashes: Army Called Out". The Indian Express. 19 May 1987. 
  9. ^ "Shoot-at-sight In Meerut: Riot Toll Rises To 22". The Indian Express. 21 May 1987. 
  10. ^ a b c "Hashimpura massacre: Court records statements of 5 witnesses". Zee News. 15 May 2010. 
  11. ^ Engineer, Asgharali (1988). Delhi-Meerut riots: analysis, compilation, and documentation. Ajanta Publications (India). p. 24. ISBN 81-202-0198-1. 
  12. ^ "Rajiv Visits Meerut". The Indian Express. 31 May 1987. 
  13. ^ "The art of not forgetting"Indian Express 27 February 1998.
  14. ^ "Mayawati shrugs off resurrected Hashimpura ghost". 19 June 1997. 
  15. ^ a b "I feigned death: witness in Hashimpura massacre case". The Hindu. 23 Jul 2006. 
  16. ^ a b "Meerut massacre: Court notice to UP govt". The Times of India. 15 Jul 2006. 
  17. ^ "'87 Meerut massacre: Trial from today". The Times of India. 14 Jul 2006. 
  18. ^ "Hashimpura massacre: 4 witnesses record their statements". Hindustan Times. 17 May 2010. 
  19. ^ "Hashimpura massacre: Subramanian Swamy seeks probe against P Chidambaram". The Economic Times. 16 October 2012. 

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