Hashimpura is a city of Meerut, whose identity is that a massacre took place here 31 years ago. Such a massacre is one of the most brutal incidents of police brutality in the history of independent India. In this massacre, about 38 innocent people were shot dead by the police and their bodies were washed away in the Ganga Canal and Hindon River.
Even after fighting a 28-year legal battle in this case, the families of those killed were deeply disappointed because in 2015 a lower court in Delhi acquitted all the accused for lack of evidence. But after 31 years of this incident, the Delhi High Court has done justice in this case and overturned the decision of the lower court and sentenced all the convicts to life imprisonment.
What finally happened in Hashimpura in 1987, under which circumstances this massacre was carried out, for which reasons the trial court acquitted the accused and how Delhi High Court overturned the judgment of the lower court and sentenced all the culprits , The answers to all these questions are found by the 73-page decision of the Delhi High Court. This decision has been pronounced by a bench of Justice S. Muralidhar and Justice Vinod Goyal. This 73-page decision begins with a description of events in Hashimpura 31 years ago, which are as follows:
‘Hashimpura is a locality of the city of Meerut. On the evening of 22 May 1987, this Mohalla became witness to a tragedy. On that day, about 42 to 45 Muslim men were surrounded by PAC personnel and took them in a truck. Taking away some of them, one of them was shot by PAC personnel and threw their bodies in the canal. The bodies of some people were thrown in the Ganga Canal while some others in Hindon River. Five of these people survived, who later said that they saw the eyes of this brutal massacre. Out of the 38 people who died, only 11 were identified, the bodies of many were never recovered.
In May 1987, Meerut was in the grip of communal riots. Due to these riots, police, paramilitary force and army were deployed in Hashimpura locality for security. These included the ‘C-Company’ of the 41st Battalion of PAC. On 31 May, in the locality next to Hashimpura, one of the army’s major’s brother was killed and two PAC rifles were also looted by the rioters. A case was also registered in this regard which is still pending in the court of Meerut.
A total of 644 people were arrested from the Hashimpura locality on the afternoon of 22 May. All these people arrested were Muslims. First they were lined up under a peepal tree in Hashimpura itself and divided into two separate groups. One group consisted of old and children while the other consisted of young. Then they were sent to civil lines and police lines in PAC, army and CRPF trucks. The 42 people who were killed in a PAC truck were killed and were included in the first group.
Apart from giving a detailed account of the events, the High Court has also discussed the aspects which were not put before the lower court or which were ignored by the court.
Difference from lower court:
The lower court had admitted that the prosecution could not prove that the ‘C-Company’ of the PAC was sent to Hashimpura. Therefore, the prosecution’s claim that these 42 people were taken away by the accused only seems suspicious because the accused were stationed about four kilometers from there. But the High Court said about this, “It is recorded in entry number 6 of the General Diary that the accused had left the police line at 7:50 am. It clearly records the names of 18 other accused along with Commander Surendra Pal Singh (who has now died). ”
Along with this fact, the High Court also said that ‘Prosecution witness number 72 has also given a statement in this regard that these PAC jawans came out of truck number URU 1493 that day and they had 17 rifles, 856 rounds of bullets. , Had a revolver and its 30 rounds.
The High Court also believed that ‘Mokam Singh was driving this truck, it has also been confirmed’. This fact was also not proved beyond doubt in the lower court.
The lower court had said that ‘no witness has identified Mokam Singh as the driver of the URU 1493 number and no direct connection to the incident of this truck has been established’. In contrast, the High Court admitted that it is clear from the entries recorded in the ‘Truck Running Register’ that this truck had gone to Hashimpura that day. Also, the entry recorded in it is also confirmed by the statements of the prosecution witness Ram Chand Giri, who was then the Sub Inspector in the Motor Transport Department. The High Court has written in its judgment, ‘The recording of the running register’s entry, in-meter and out-meter and the statements of the prosecution witnesses coincide and show that the accused used the daily truck number URU 1493. Was and Mokam Singh was running it.
In the lower court, the direct connection of the accused to the crime was also not established due to lack of evidence. The lower court had admitted that there was not enough evidence to ascertain the identity of the accused and the truck concerned. But the High Court has said in this regard, ‘Medical and forensic evidence prove beyond doubt that the bullets hit by the dead are from the rifle issued to the accused. A bullet of .303 has been recovered from the body of a deceased and in forensic examination this bullet matches with the shotgun of the accused. The defense has no satisfactory answer to the fact that the bullet was found dead.
How did she feel in the body?
Key points of decision:
The Delhi High Court has also discussed in detail the flaws of the investigating agency in this case and also believed that these murders fall under the category of ‘custodial death’ or murders done under police protection. At the end of its verdict, the court has written the conclusion of this entire judgment in 15 points which are very important:
1. Identity is to be ensured primarily in this appeal. First, the truck in which the killed people were taken and the second those who carried out the murder.
2. It has been established from diary entries and statements that on that day, the accused came out in the same truck carrying rifles and bullets and the truck was driving by Mokam Singh.
3. It is established from the register that this truck went to Hashimpura that day.
4. Accused people were present in that truck, it is not only established by the diary entry but also by the answers given by the accused themselves while recording their statements under Section 313.
5. There is, therefore, ample evidence of the fact that beyond doubt establish that the truck number URU 1493 was present on the evening of 22 May 1987.
6. It has been established with seven different fire evidences that bullets were fired inside the truck.
7. Medical evidence shows that the bullet recovered from the body of the deceased was fired from the accused’s gun.
8. Six doctors have done post mortem of the dead and all have told that those people died only after being shot.
9. The prosecution has been successful in proving both the incidents beyond doubt. First, some people were killed and thrown into the Ganga Canal and second, others were killed and thrown into the Hindon River.
10. The General Diary Register proves the involvement of the accused in the crime. Apart from this, none of the accused has said that they were not in Meerut that day or were not present in that truck. His involvement in the crime of this truck has also been proved beyond doubt.
11. Evidence also shows that before killing all these innocent people, they had made a strategy with the accused. So all the accused are guilty of criminal conspiracy, kidnapping and murder.
12. Even though the people of the PAC did not take those victims to any jail or premises and keep them imprisoned in the truck itself, the court believes that doing so is like keeping them in illegal custody. So in this case only the murders fall under the category of ‘murder in custody’.
13. This case is a terrible example of ‘custodial killings’. The judicial process, which has been over two decades, is also disappointing.
14. It is very sad and disturbing that in this incident, people of minority community were targeted by PAC. This argument of the defense cannot be accepted because the purpose of the murder has not been proved.
15. This court directs that all the State Legal Services Authorities select such nodal officers to assist the victims in custodial deaths. It should be ensured that such victims get the benefit of all the schemes and this benefit is not only financial but their rights and self-respect can be protected.