Recalling Hashimpur Massacre. Pain of Injustice. Community Make Over. How Law becomes Victim of its own Course?
Delhi Court has acquitted all 16 accused in the 29-year-old Hashimpura massacre case at Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. All the acquitted are former personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) of Uttar Pradesh.
Additional Sessions Judge Sanjay Jindal said: “I give them the benefit of the doubt due to insufficient evidence, particularly on the identification of the accused.” There were a total of 19 accused, three of them died during the trial.
Big Question for Tonight is
- Can survivor’s be asked to identify the accused. Was that justified ? When it was established that they were driven out in dark night. They were bewildered, so identifying the accused was objectionable.
- Delay of 26 years were intentionally made to execute weed out process to destroy the case related documents.
- As Timing (Night) of the Crime & Crime(itself) were established in the court.
- If crime & timing of the crime led was established, then identifying the accused was no relevant question, then documents could only reveal who were deployed on that particular time. System has delayed the process to file the charge sheet till Weed Out Process be happened.
Rebecca John, Counsel for the victims and the survivors, said, “All the five survivors of the massacre testified in court, braving all odds, but failed to identify the accused as it had grown dark when they were hustled in the truck and driven out. They were in a state of intense shock which made identification even more difficult. Even if they had said that they could identify the men, their claims would have beggared belief. But she said there was enough credible evidence for the conviction of all the accused in the 1987 case”. They were brutally massacred in three different location. We could not even imagine what they were upto”
Recalling the unheard moments (chronology of events relating to the case)
- The Hashimpura massacre happened 29 years ago, on May 22, 1987.
- Locality of Hashimpura near Meerut, Uttar Pradesh was already gripping in communal tension during the months of April and May that year.
- On 21/05/1987 (A day before) : First, Two PAC men were assaulted and their rifles were snatched. Second, Prabhat Kumar Kaushik, nephew of a BJP leader, a vociferous right-winger who lived in a locality adjacent to Hashimpura, was shot dead. His brother was in the army and was posted in Meerut at that time.
- These two incidents led the District Administration & Police to carry out a search operation for illegal arms in Hashimpura.
- On 22/05/1987, Muslims were sorted picked up in many trucks and all taken to police station at Civil Lines and Police Lines, Meerut except one truck.
- That alone truck carring 50 muslims on board, which did not go to nearest police station, was driven to the Upper Ganga Canal, Murad Nagar in Ghaziabad, where the PAC constables started pulling the men out from the truck one by one, shooting them and dumping their bodies into the canal.
- The lights of a passing truck carrying milk-containers, discharged from the headlights, fell on them during the ongoing onslaught by the PAC
- The PAC men panickly decided to flee incase they would exposed – They drove the truck to a new location at Hindon river, alongwith the prisoners who had not yet been shot, and where they finished off their gory assignment.
- Vibhuti Narain Rai, the then senior superintendent of police, Ghaziabad, along with district magistrate Naseem Zaidiand other local officials visited the crime spot.
- They found bodies thrown all over the nearby crime spot. Floating in the canal, soaked in blood & mud, hanging from the weedy growth on the banks of the river and screaming souls all over.
- They started calling out to see if any of the victims were still alive. During search to find some if still alive, a man, with two bullet injuries, raised in reflection, Soaked in blood. he then articulated the storyline how and what had exactly happens.
- Vibhuti Rai, after having heard the blurred voice of the victim, then contacted the SO of Murad Nagar who told him that he too found three injured survivors of the massacre and sitting with him in the police station. Subsequently, the wounded were admitted to the Mohan Nagar Hospital and the FIRs were lodged.
Aftermath, Painting Justice on Unjust.
- Over outrage spread across Media, Minority Rights Organisations and Human Rights Organisations woke up & took up the matter further.
- Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, on 30 May along with Chief Minister Vir Bahadur Singh, visited the city and the riot affected areas.
- The human rights body, People’s Union for Civil Liberties(PUCL), appointed an investigation committee comprising the then PUCL President, (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, though it wasn’t made public till 1995, when victims moved the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court.
- 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. 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.
Three Government Changed, and all are blamed of appeasing minority politics by Right Wings, but no relief were found.
State & Central Government were ruled by Congress to Samajwadi, Samajwadi to BSP. They were blamed of minority politics by right wings. Hoping they could not now raise similar tone ever again to polarize the social fabric.
Charge Sheet filed in 1996, No one from the accused (State-Controlled PAC) turned up before court till April, 2000 – A Monumental cover-up
- Within three days of the massacre, the case was handed over to the state government’s CBCID.
- In 1994, after 7 years, the CBCID submitted its report which was never made public.
- In 1996, charge sheet was filed before the chief judicial magistrate (CJM), Ghaziabad.
- The CJM issued bailable warrants 23 times and non-bailable warrants 17 times against the accused between January 1997 and April 2000 but they did not show up in court despite being members of the state-controlled PAC. Despite the fact that all of them were on active duty with the Government and drawing salaries, it said the men could not be located
- In 2004, they finally appeared before the court later in the year 2000 after 4 years.
- In all 4 years, state mechanism was failed to present them before the court. Though all accused in the case are from state controlled PAC. Even RTI revealed that all accused were in service during these years and massacre was not even mentioned in their ACR (Annual Confidential Report). The UP police failed to arrest the accused PAC policemen.
- As soon as they appeared, they were given bail by the CJM.
U.P. police destroyed papers on massacre (PAC denied having documents showing the deployment of PAC personnel on the same day)
As per the documents, accessed by The Hindu, SSP Office failed to provide the documents to CID regarding the deployment of the PAC personnel. Reasons were given that related documents were “weeded out” and so impossible to make it available. Below is the extract of quoted version
“Your office has asked to make available the records of deputation and deployment of PAC personnel during the alleged massacre of the residents of Hashimpura Mohalla, to Zafaryab Jilani. It is brought to your notice that all the details of the case were weeded out on April 1, 2006. Hence, it is impossible to make them available,” said the letter signed by the Meerut SSP on January 30.
- In an affidavit filed in February, 2016 before the Delhi high court, the UP police accepted that they had destroyed documents “after expiry of their prescribed period.”
- Following the affidavit, the bench had asked the police to disclose the details of the “weeding out” process of the crucial case papers.
- Who Orders You To Destroy Crucial Case Papers. According to Vrinda Grover, who is representing the National Human Rights Commission, due to his continuous attempts, “the honorable court has accepted our submission that police be directed to file a consolidated affidavit making it clear on whose orders and by whom were the crucial case papers destroyed.”
- Contradictory Affidavit. UP Police also contradict regarding the Date & year of weeding out the important case papers. In its affidavit filed in March 2017, The UP police mentioned April 20, 1993, while in February last year the UP police had mentioned April 1, 2006. Hence, how to different Date & Year of “Weed Out” process appeared .
Multi Dimensional Communal Holocaust – By K. C. Gupta and S. K. Mittal
Gupta & Mittal together covered the incident and how media houses including the scholars had painted it as a Multi-Dimensional Communal Holocaust.
615 Application filed under RTI Act to reveal the truth (Massive Use to Expose The State, Agencies & PAC)
Since then the families of the victims have been fighting for justice with no success. However, the Right to Information Act had given them a new hope.
On 24 May 2007, twenty years after the incident, two survivors and members of 36 victim families had filed 615 applications under The Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI), seeking information about the case. 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. This has changed the course of the case therafter.
An inordinate delay in pre-trial proceedings exposed State Mechanism & Justice.
- After 16 Years of delay in pre-trial proceedings at Ghaziabad.
- Following news reports about the Government’s lack of interest in the case & delays, prompting the Supreme Court’s intervention in 2002.
- In September, 2002, the Supreme Court granted transfer of the case from Ghaziabad to New Delhi
- Till November 2004, The state government didn’t appoint a special public prosecutor (SPP) for the case.
- When the state government finally appointed an SPP, he was found to be under-qualified and was later replaced by another.
- In May 2006, finally charges were filed against all the accused PAC men for murder, conspiracy to murder, attempt to murder and tampering with evidence and the trial was listed to begin in July.
- A review of the case record makes it clear that no political party in the Uttar Pradesh government has made the pursuit of justice any easier.
Six men in all survived (Zulfiqar, Arif, Qamaruddin, Naeem, Naeem, Mujibur Rehman)
- Zulfiqar escaped death as after being shot in the armpit, he pretended to be dead and was thrown into the river. He held on to the bushes growing from the banks of the river and kept himself concealed.
- Arif jumped into the river before being shot, and he too kept himself concealed under the bushes. When the PAC truck fled from the spot, they came out and found three more injured men.
- Qamaruddin was writhing in pain and succumbed to injuries shortly after.
- Naeem tricked death by drenching himself with blood coming out of Qamaruddin’s bullet injury, as it gave the impression that perhaps he too had already been shot.
- Mohd. Usman unsuccessfully tried to run away first, then he begged for mercy, and then he tried to snatch the rifle of a PAC jawan. He was shot twice – one bullet was fired into his belly and the other in his thigh – and then he was thrown into the river. He too held on to the bushes, and survived.
- Mujibur Rehman received a bullet in his chest and thigh but survived. Babuddin too survived after receiving a bullet in his chest and back.
Unheard bleeding of the surviving souls.
Nothing could be as brutal as unjustice and social equilibrium, this can haunt anyone within the society, of any caste, religion and race. Humanity will loose and compose lives in the darkness. Generations get washed away, Eyes spell tears, voice stuck in, no one can fill the pain.
Hashimpura, Then and Now
Michael Greenberg, in his introduction to Rodolfo Walsh’s Operation Massacre writes, “Prosecutions often occur decades after the crimes. They don’t bring back the dead or change history. But they do affect the future. They lift the cloud of rage and unresolvedness that can hang over the psyche of a country for as long as the perpetrators run free. They force the state, and the general population, to acknowledge the ordeal of their compatriots. They air the truth and relieve an immeasurable weight of psychological repression. Crucially, they vindicate the loved ones of the disappeared who have been consigned to a state of silence and shame.”
“The prisoners were told that we had raped their mothers and sisters and it was time for settling scores”, recalls Mohd. Ghayas, who was only 14 at the time.
Mohd Ghayas, also recollects the pain when he was grabed away. He wrapped himself around his mother’s waist before the police pulled him away. While taking him, one of the PAC men said, “Grab him! He too must have killed one or two.”
The remark was a reference to the perception among the authorities that Muslims are the aggressors in communal riots.
Nafees Ahmad, who was 20 at that time, has a scar on his ear. He feels God is the reason he is still alive. A policeman was stopped by one of his colleagues when he was taking aim at Nafees. He was one of the many people who were arrested and then detained in prison for 21 days. The image of policemen beating up his friends and neighbours still haunts him.
Subramanian Swamy moved court seeking probe agianst P Chidambaram
Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy today moved a Delhi court seeking directions for further inquiry into the 1987 Hashimpura massacre in Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh when P Chidambaram was Minister of State for Home at the Centre. Reported by ET
PAC is usually assigned to VIP duty or to maintain order during fairs, festivals, athletic events, elections, and natural disasters, to quell outbreaks of student or labor unrest, organized crime, and communal riots.
Representation withhin PAC were mainly from Bhumihars, Rajputs and Yadavs from Poorvanchal. Tyagis & Jats from Meerut, Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar and Bulandshahr; 4 battalions from the Garhwali and Kumaoni hillmen, and martial races (Rajputs, Lodhs, Ahirs, and Gujjars from Agra, Etah, Mainpuri, Etawah, Firozabadand the Bundelkhand region of Jalaun, Jhansi and Auraiya.
- In May 1973, 12 battalions of the UP-PAC revolted and the Army was called in to control. About 30 policemen were killed and hundreds were arrested and dismissed from service.
- Worsening the situation during 1978 Aligarh riots,
- Massacring more than 150 people during 1980 Moradabad riots,
- Instigating communal violence in Meerut in 1982
- Massacring over 40 people, all Muslims from the Hashimpura mohalla (locality) of the Meerut city in the incidence known as Hashimpura massacre,
- “PAC anti-Muslim bias confirmed – 7 jawans were suspended for looting” – 20 people were killed in Kanpur in 2001.
- Institutional impunity and bias : merely 4.34 % representation in UP PAC while Muslims make up more than 19% of the state’s population.
In 1982 two petitions to disband UP-PAC were filed in Supreme Court.
The trial that never concludes the law itself – Timeline to serve Justice
May 1987 : Victims shot and bodies thrown into canal. 42 persons declared dead.
1996 : Charge sheet filed against 19 accused before Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ghaziabad with 161 people listed as witnesses.
Sept. 2002 : Case transferred to Delhi by the Supreme Court on petition by the families of victims and survivors.
July 2006 : Delhi court frames charges of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy under the IPC against 17 accused.
Jan. 22, 2015 : Court reserves judgement for February 21.
Feb. 21 : Court defers verdict as it was not ready.
March 21 : Court acquits 16 surviving accused giving them benefit of doubt regarding their identity.
Shocked survivors to go on appeal
As reported by TheHindu, The survivors and families of victims of the 1987 Hashimpura massacre will appeal against the acquittal of the 16 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) members accused in the case.
In defence, Lawyer had raised few points as quoted
“If the court gave benefit of doubt to the 16 accused personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary whose fault is this, if not that of the State and prosecution? Whose responsibility was it to ensure that the is no delay and that the best possible evidences are not lost!,” Defence lawyer said.
“First of all it took 15 years to appoint a special public prosecutor. By the time the case came up for trial in Delhi all the best witnesses were dead, the most crucial set of evidences and documents were lost,” she said.
“It happened because of the deliberate and culpable failure of the state to produce them on record in order to deliberately subvert the cause of justice. I have not read the order yet. But certainly we will go for appeal,” she said.
What i can conclude in her words here is that, “We did not bend before the sufferings and neither we felt like taking revenge for it. And here powerful lobbies get into play and then infuse us with their doctrine of hatred and justice. They portray their agendas in such a way that common people fail to justify what is wrong and what is right.
They will tell us about the sufferings and pain which “they” have been through but what they would never tell you that same Law of Land has acquitted others and that make us believe in our Indian Judicial System. They will tell you that I was arrested being a Muslim but they will never tell you that I had become the victim of the image which our community is carrying.
I strongly believe, law is not responsible for our fate of sufferings, this is we as a community should only be held responsible. We should disconnect the lobbies first and then we should not only just raise our voice democratically but also need to act upon those radicalized, fabricated elements within the society and make them understand that violence has no place in true Islam and Humanism.
This is not just about innocents who made to jail and suffered. This is about whole community which were radicalized and intoxicated against the law of land. See what we have done, generations over the decades have degraded, family destroyed, childhood disappeared, pain in the blurred ageing eyes.
Having said all as quoted above, Stone Pelters (Youth, School going Students) in Kashimir should disconnect from Separatist and violence. They should better showcase non-violence protest in a way Rewari girl students did it in Haryana. They ended their fast after Haryana govt bends rules to upgrade school. Its difficult, but once propagated, you will find support from across India. Who can forget, Posco Dismantling, How local tribal groups protested for a decade and made Posco suspended to suspend the $12 billion project.
These powerful gamut of Nations & Political lobbies should stop using particular community as a state or secret policy. It is no hidden now, and its on public domain but earlier it was not freely available. We are aware now and making every possible attempt to neutralize the radicalization within the community. I would suggest other communities not to get trapped in their agendas. They fabricate your holy scriptures and through propaganda that you will fall within their agenda and whatever we are facing today, you will face the same fate tomorrow
Save your life, community from these intoxicated and fabricated elements within your own community. Weed them out of the society.
We just want to live in peace and in harmony in the collective society.