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Current Affairs ( 21 March 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Hashimpura Massacre: Denial of Justice Should Prick Society’s Consciousness

 

By Sameer Arshad

March 22, 2015        

Also Read:

Hashimpura Case Verdict: Shocked Survivors to Go On Appeal

By Moihammad Ali

Hashimpura Verdict Opens Old Wounds

By Sandeep Rai

Hashimpura Massacre: A Perfect Case of Miscarriage Of Justice, Legal Expert Says

By Sana Shakil

‘Cops Wore Helmets, Couldn’t Identify Them’

By Sana Shakil

‘Waited For Hubby for Long, Only His Body Came Back’

By Sandeep Rai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the night of May 22, 1987, about 45 Muslim men from Hashimpura, a settlement in Meerut, were rounded up and packed into the rear of a truck of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC). (Source: Praveen Jain)

Police dissuaded two journalists from going to Hashimpura, warning that residents of this deprived Muslim locality were ‘all Pakistanis’ and ready to ‘shoot any outsiders’ after the May 1987 Meerut riots. When the two managed to give their minders the slip a day later, they found mostly harried elderly, women and children there, peering nervously out of their houses riddled with bullets fired indiscriminately. No young men were left in the locality. Police had bundled and taken them away to some unknown location on the most auspicious day in Muslim calendar, days before Eid, even as no rioting had taken place in Hashimpura. Those left behind were thirsty and hungry, while the locality had run out of food and water with no help in sight. Insult was added to injury when bodies of 42 men, riddled with bullets fired point-blank, taken from the locality were found floating in canals over 30km away.

Five men survived the coldblooded massacre to tell their tale. Among them, Mohammad Usman was pulled out of a police truck, shot twice and thrown into the canal to bleed to death. He testified that they were ‘sorted out on the basis of our strength and physique’ for the slaughter. The cops had hurriedly finished off the remaining men to silence them as they began screaming in dread after three boys were first shot point blank. Usman survived with gunshot wounds as he pretended to be dead while the cops kept shooting at them. In between, police were fuelling hostilities warning people against ‘these dangerous Pakistanis’ having brutalised the surviving Hashmipura residents. Back in Delhi, the editor of one of the journalists refused to publish his story on one of the worst police brutalities in independent India. The brutalities coincided with the Babri Masjid demolition movement that propelled the ruling BJP as a force to reckon with on the back of the anti-Muslim violence and polarisation it fuelled.

The police description of Meerut Muslims as ‘Pakistanis’ or the dangerous other to justify their cruelty remains pervasive decades later. It reflects a larger malaise in the society, which has repeatedly rewarded politicians electorally for mass violence like Hashimpura massacre. Lazy, mechanical and often deliberate vilification in mass media has only sharpened de-humanising stereotypes. In this backdrop, it was thus hardly surprising when justice for the 42 slain Hashimpura men was delayed for 28 years and eventually denied on Saturday. Starting with Hyderabad in 1948, mass violence against Muslims since independence has been a norm, more so as all such brutalities have gone virtually unpunished. The verdict of a Delhi court acquitting all the accused of massacring Hashimpura men under the watch of a self-styled secular Congress thus followed a pattern. The acquittal was a forgone conclusion as the powers that be were never interested in justice. The Uttar Pradesh government kept telling courts the accused cannot be found while they continued to serve in the police force, got promotions and retired with all perks. It dragged its feet for a year before ordering a Crime Branch Central Investigation Department (CBCID) probe in 1988. The CBCID took six years to submit a report, which was kept under wraps. The survivors were left with no option but to fend for themselves. They continued to fight for justice and eventually forced the Supreme Court to transfer the case from Ghaziabad to Delhi’s Tis Hazari court. Little changed as there was no Special Public Prosecutor (SPP), when the hearings in the case began. When an SPP was appointed, he was found to be lacking the required qualifications needed for the job. It took months for the government to appoint an SPP in November 2004.

The institutional bias pervading various pillars of the state makes justice in cases like Hashimpura massacre very difficult. The political capital political parties have earned through such atrocities – most recently in Muzaffarnagar— over the years shut all doors for any semblance of closure. Like myriad panels set up to probe riots, the Srikrishna Commission that investigated the 1992 anti-Muslim Mumbai pogrom highlighted the pervasive anti-Muslim prejudice as a major reason for such violence. It said ‘the attitude (among the cops) was that one Muslim killed, was one Muslim less’. Transcripts of wireless messages between police officers revealed they had actually directed their colleagues to attack and allow assaults on Muslims. All the accused cops were let off, not to mention Bal Thackeray, whom the Sri Krishna panel too had indicted for his role in the riots. But the Shiv Sena leader remained unscathed. He was given a state funeral in November 2012, riding a roughshod over the victims of the Mumbai pogrom, who continue to struggle for justice. The growing clamour for a memorial for Thackeray now highlights a certain level of approval for mob violence against the country’s largest minority, which suffers widespread prejudices and is largely forced to live in subhuman conditions of ghettos.

After Mumbai, the same story was repeated a decade later in Gujarat. A top BJP functionary and ex-minister convicted of one of the worst massacres there is out on bail along with police officers accused of serious atrocities. The Muzaffarnagar riots too ended up increasing rather than diminishing the political stature of BJP lawmakers accused of fanning them. Cops again played a dubious role during the carnage in 2013, eight years after top Uttar Pradesh cop Vibhuti Narain Rai had flagged deep anti-Muslim bias in his force. Rai, who was Ghaziabad SP and had fished out bodies of Hashimpura men from the canal, blamed anti-Muslim bias for the 1987 massacre,. In 2005, he told a news magazine most of the cops posted in Meerut thought the 1987 riots were a result of ‘Muslim mischief’. They believed Meerut had become a ‘mini-Pakistan’ because of ‘Muslim intransigence’ and that it was necessary ‘to teach the community a lesson’. Rai told the magazine the fight against communalisation requires drastic changes in the policy of recruitment, training and syllabi of the police. He cited the percentage of minorities especially Muslims – five to six per cent— in most states police forces and added this was the result of ‘a deep and inherent communal bias in the leadership of the police’ on the basis of his 30-year experience.

The path-breaking Sachar Committee report, which was made public the same year, echoed Rai and suggested remedial measures to address the bias. It unsurprisingly gathers dust. The Congress commissioned the report. But it refused to implement its recommendations in a reflection of its traditional double-speak vis-à-vis Muslims, whom it sees as mere vote bank. The Congress, as the main political forces for decades, is guilty of doing little to protect Muslims. It ignored their genuine aspirations, including quest for justice in repeated cases of mass violence they have faced mostly under its watch. The worst massacre of Muslims in independent India happened not in Gujarat, but in erstwhile Hyderabad state under the watch of Congress’s tallest secular leader Jawaharlal Nehru. Tens of thousands of Muslims were slaughtered after India took over Hyderabad in September 1948. Instead of acting and deterring mass violence in future, the Congress chose to sit on the report of an inquiry commission constituted to look into the killings. The report is yet to be made public. It was leaked and published abroad and estimates as many as 200,000 Muslims were slaughtered. The toll earlier was believed to have been 50,000.

The change of guard at the Centre in 2014 offers little hope for the minorities, who harbour no illusions about the BJP. The Hashimpura massacre was a by-product of the BJP’s most successful mass movement for the Babri Masjid demolition under L K Advani’s leadership to turn the party into the force it today is. Like Advani, Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his political career as a volunteer of the RSS, which has long demonised Muslims as ‘unreliable fifth column’ and a threat to the Hindu nation’. Hindu nationalist icon M S Golwalkar, who headed the RSS in 1940s, saw Muslims along with Christians and Communists as ‘akin to the demons, or Rakshashas, of the Indian mythology. He described Hindus as ‘avenging angels who would slay them’ to restore the ‘goodness and the purity of the Motherland’. The BJP has done little in assuring minorities that it has changed its spots since it returned to power last year. Thus, lynching of a techie in Pune, Ghar wapsi campaign, hate speeches of BJP lawmakers, ministers and affiliates etc. have to be seen in light of the party’s traditional politics defined by its ideological forefathers. Hope for minorities, meanwhile, can spring eternal. Denial of justice in Hashimpura massacre reflects a rot that would only deepen in the years to come.

Source: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/gray-areas/hashimpura-massacre-denial-of-justice-should-prick-societys-consciousness/

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Hashimpura Case Verdict: Shocked Survivors to Go On Appeal

By Moihammad Ali

March 21, 2015

The survivors and families of victims of the 1987 Hashimpura massacre will appeal against the acquittal of the16 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) members accused in the case.

On May 22, 1987, during the Hindu-Muslim riots, the 16 PAC personnel were accused of abducting and killing 42 members of the minority community from Hashimpura area of Meerut.

A Delhi trial court on Saturday acquitted the 16 accused, giving them the ‘benefit of doubt due to insufficient evidence, particularly on the identification of the accused.”

Rebecca John, senior lawyer who represented the survivors and families of those who were killed in the massacre, said she was “appalled” that the criminal justice system of this country "failed" to identify the culprits and produce evidences to ensure accountability for killing 42 members of minority community.

“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!,” she wondered.

“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.

She argued that it was for the State to present the best possible witnesses and all the crucial evidences and documents but they were “deliberately lost”

“ The survivors who were shot by the PAC could not have provided evidences. As far as identifying the culprits is concerned, those who survived the gun shot, couldn't have even identified the personnel because it was night time when the incident happened and most of the PAC personnel had wore halmets," she maintained.

Terming the verdict "a sad commentary of our criminal justice system", Ms. John said, "You deliberately delay and take 28 years to the extent that all the important evidence is lost."

While highlighting a “pattern of complete lack of accountability,” she argued that the manner in which the criminal justice system dealt with this case would only “encourage rouge elements in the police.”

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/hashimpura-case-verdict-shocked-survivors-to-go-on-appeal/article7018928.ece

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Hashimpura Verdict Opens Old Wounds

By Sandeep Rai

Mar 21, 2015

MEERUT: Hashimpura for many of its residents is not just the name of a village, it is a word that translates into death and massacre.

After all, it was here that 42 young Muslim men, who were taken away from their homes on the night of May 22, 1987, were found floating the next day in a nearby canal, their bodies riddled with bullets.

The men were mercilessly killed near the Murad Nagar canal and thrown into the water. Twenty-eight years later, when the Tees Hazari court in Delhi on Saturday acquitted all the 16 accused for want of evidence, there was a mournful quiet in the village near Meerut. Some, though, were angry, protesting loudly that it was a "massacre of justice".

The Hashimpura massacre happened during the 1987 Hindu-Muslim riots in the city. On the night of May 22, 10 PAC personnel rounded up around 45 able bodied young Muslim men and took them to the outskirts of Murad Nagar near the Upper Ganga Canal. There these men were shot from point blank range and thrown into the canal. This led to a furore of gigantic proportions. In May 2000, 16 of the 19 accused surrendered (the rest had died of natural causes in the interim) but were later released on bail. The trial of the case was then transferred by Supreme Court to the Tees Hazari court in Delhi

Zaibun Nisha remembers vividly the one last look that her husband Mohd Iqbal gave her 28 years ago moments before he was escorted by policemen on that fateful May night. She never saw him again. News came a few days later that Iqbal was among the 42 men that PAC personnel had picked up and later found in the canal. Zaibun was just 25 at that time and had delivered a baby girl two days earlier.

Now 53, Zaibun said her wounds have been re-opened. "Even 28 year later, I still dream of that night. I still see my husband giving me that one last look. I waited for him for years, but he never got back. His body did. This is nothing but a mockery of justice," she said, tears welling up in her eyes.

Another resident of Hashimpura, Zarina, is inconsolable. She lost her husband and 16-year-old son in the mayhem. "Many were mercilessly beaten in Police Lines and then in jail. But at least some returned. My husband Zaheer and my son Javed never came back."

TOI also managed to meet Zulfikar Nasir, one of the survivors of the incident. "I was shot in the shoulder and was thrown in the canal but somehow I managed to catch hold of a bush and saved myself from imminent drowning," he said, hours after the verdict. "I saw people writhing in pain but could do nothing. I ran away from there and reached a village where I was treated for my injuries. I went back home months later."

Zulfikar added: "I am really pained to know about the verdict. I was one of the witnesses. I had seen everything with my own eyes. And, here the court has set free the accused, that too for want of evidence."

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/Hashimpura-verdict-opens-old-wounds/articleshow/46647245.cms

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Hashimpura Massacre: A Perfect Case of Miscarriage Of Justice, Legal Expert Says

By Sana Shakil

Mar 22, 2015

NEW DELHI: Twenty eight years after the Hashimpura massacre in which over 40 Muslims were murdered in cold blood allegedly by Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel, the verdict acquitting all the 16 accused for want of evidence was termed a "mockery of justice" by legal experts.

The massacre had occurred on May 22, 1987 during riots in Meerut city and the victims were picked up from the Hashimpura mohalla of the city allegedly by the police personnel of 41st company of the PAC during a search operation. Legal luminaries say this case speaks volumes about the faults with our judicial system as not only the case took this long to reach its conclusion, the fact that no one was held accountable for the killings also raises questions on the credibility of the police force when it investigates cases against its own men.

The case was transferred to Delhi in 2002 after a Supreme Court order. In the verdict pronounced on Saturday, the court did not dispute the occurrence of killings and even referred the matter to Delhi Legal Services Authority for rehabilitation of survivors. But the court, while acquitting 16 PAC men, said there was lack of evidence regarding identity of the accused. Lawyers say the identity of accused would obviously been have difficult as many survivors—who were yearning for justice and were crucial eyewitnesses in the case, passed away during the prolonged trial.

"This case is a glaring example of how delays result in miscarriadge of justice. 28 years after the incident, witnesses either die or their memories fade away. It cannot be disputed that a large number of people lost their lives in this barbaric homicidal incident and yet not a single person has been found guilty. This is mockery of justice," noted criminal lawyer Majeed Memon said.

Counsel for the survivors and family members of victims, senior advocate Rebecca John said this case was a classic example of justice delayed being justice denied. "The victims are devastated by the verdict. Even after 28 years of the brutal killings, if we are unable to fix the accountability of this gruesome crime on anyone, we should hang our heads in shame. Many crucial witnesses died or could not be traced, Investigating officers died and important medical evidence got destroyed during the prolonged trial. This is a slap on the face of speedy justice in our country," John said.

She added that the prosecuting agency is to be blamed for lack of evidence on which ground the court acquitted all the accused. "This is an act of dereliction of duty on the part of Uttar Pradesh police, the probe agency, as the case was against its own men. For fifteen years, when the case was being tried in a court in Uttar Pradesh, the case did not even move a step ahead," John said. Observers say state, governments, PAC, accused and even courts to a certain extent—for failing to monitor a speedy trial in the case, are responsible for the unusual delay in the case. The inquiry for this incident which was conducted by Crime Branch-CID took seven long years for completion and the inquiry report was finally submitted in 1994.

In 1996, the charge sheet was finally filed before a Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Ghaziabad in 1996 by Crime Branch of CID. Even after being charge sheeted, summoned several times and even after issuance of warrants against them, till 2002 none of the accused appeared in the court. The case was transferred to Delhi in September 2002 by the order of Supreme Court following a petition by the families of the massacre victims and survivors. The Uttar Pradesh government then took four long years to appoint a government advocate in the case. In July 2006, after the appointment of a public prosecutor, a sessions court framed charges framed charges of murder, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy, abduction, unlawful confinement, assault, tampering with evidence against all the accused.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Hashimpura-massacre-A-perfect-case-of-miscarriage-of-justice-legal-expert-says/articleshow/46649022.cms?

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‘Cops Wore Helmets, Couldn’t Identify Them’

By Sana Shakil

Mar 22, 2015

NEW DELHI: Babuddin, one of the survivors and eye-witnesses to the Hashimpura massacre, said he could not recognize the PAC personnel in court as they were wearing helmets on the day of the incident. "We are very sad as justice has been denied to us. I could not identify them before the court as they were wearing helmets and almost three decades had passed since the incident. Only because of this one mistake, this verdict has been passed against us even though all other evidence were against them," he said.

Two other survivors and eye-witnesses — Usman and Mujibur Rehman — also expressed disappointment on the verdict.

Counsel for the victims and survivors senior advocate Rebecca John said it was very unfortunate that no one was held guilty. "If today is not the day we hang our heads in shame, there can be no other day."

"The court gave has given benefit of doubt to the accused regarding their identification, and not regarding the incident. The fact that the court referred the case to the Delhi Legal Service Authority for rehabilitation of the victims shows that the incident is not in doubt. I will give my report to the government. It is for the government to decide on the further course of action, including an appeal," special public prosecutor Satish Tamta said.

The verdict, however, was welcomed by the accused who said the long ordeal was finally over for them. "I am satisfied that justice is finally done. We faced the trial for last 28 years. During this period I failed to do anything for my family and children. I was a head constable at the time of the alleged incident and I am going to retire soon and I am still a head constable," 59-year-old Niranjan, one of the persons who was acquitted said.

Another acquitted accused expressed similar views saying, "We had to face such a long trial. That itself was a punishment despite the fact that I was not even present at the spot at the time of the incident. However, I am happy that the court finally did justice to us." Advocates Salar M Khan and L D Mual, who appeared for several accused, said none of the eye witnesses had identified the accused in the court as those involved in the massacre.

In 2006, all accused of the Hashimpura massacre were put on trial for offences of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy. However, three of the accused and many witnesses passed away during the trial. Observers say the fact that crucial eyewitnesses either died or could not be traced led to the acquittals. The case was transferred to Delhi on a Supreme Court direction in September 2002. The CB-CID of Uttar Pradesh police, which probed the case, had listed 161 people as witnesses.

Those acquitted are Suresh Chand Sharma, Niranjan Lal, Kamal Singh, Budhi Singh, Basant Ballab, Kunwar Pal Singh, Budha Singh, Rambir Singh, Leela Dhar, Hambir Singh, Mokam Singh, Shami Ullaha, Sarwan Kumar, Jaipal Singh, Mahesh Prasad and Ram Dhayan. Except Mahesh Prasad and Kunwar Pal Singh, all were present in court for the hearing.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Cops-wore-helmets-couldnt-identify-them/articleshow/46649205.cms

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‘Waited For Hubby for Long, Only His Body Came Back’

By Sandeep Rai

Mar 22, 2015

MEERUT: Hashimpura for many of its residents is not just the name of a village, it is a word that translates into death and massacre.

After all, it was here that 42 young Muslim men, who were taken away from their homes on the night of May 22, 1987, were found floating the next day in a nearby canal, their bodies riddled with bullets.

The men were mercilessly killed near the Murad Nagar canal and thrown into the water. Twenty-eight years later, when the Tees Hazari court in Delhi on Saturday acquitted all the 16 accused for want of evidence, there was a mournful quiet in the village near Meerut. Some, though, were angry, protesting loudly that it was a "massacre of justice".

The Hashimpura massacre happened during the 1987 Hindu-Muslim riots in the city. On the night of May 22, 10 PAC personnel rounded up around 45 able bodied young Muslim men and took them to the outskirts of Murad Nagar near the Upper Ganga Canal. There these men were shot from point blank range and thrown into the canal. This led to a furore of gigantic proportions. In May 2000, 16 of the 19 accused surrendered (the rest had died of natural causes in the interim) but were later released on bail. The trial of the case was then transferred by Supreme Court to the Tees Hazari court in Delhi

Zaibun Nisha remembers vividly the one last look that her husband Mohd Iqbal gave her 28 years ago moments before he was escorted by policemen on that fateful May night. She never saw him again. News came a few days later that Iqbal was among the 42 men that PAC personnel had picked up and later found in the canal. Zaibun was just 25 at that time and had delivered a baby girl two days earlier.

Now 53, Zaibun said her wounds have been re-opened. "Even 28 year later, I still dream of that night. I still see my husband giving me that one last look. I waited for him for years, but he never got back. His body did. This is nothing but a mockery of justice," she said, tears welling up in her eyes.

Another resident of Hashimpura, Zarina, is inconsolable. She lost her husband and 16-year-old son in the mayhem. "Many were mercilessly beaten in Police Lines and then in jail. But at least some returned. My husband Zaheer and my son Javed never came back."

TOI also managed to meet Zulfikar Nasir, one of the survivors of the incident. "I was shot in the shoulder and was thrown in the canal but somehow I managed to catch hold of a bush and saved myself from imminent drowning," he said, hours after the verdict. "I saw people writhing in pain but could do nothing. I ran away from there and reached a village where I was treated for my injuries. I went back home months later."

Zulfikar added: "I am really pained to know about the verdict. I was one of the witnesses. I had seen everything with my own eyes. And, here the court has set free the accused, that too for want of evidence."

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Waited-for-hubby-for-long-only-his-body-came-back/articleshow/46649192.cms

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/current-affairs/sameer-arshad-and-others/hashimpura-massacre--denial-of-justice-should-prick-society’s-consciousness/d/102059

 

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