27 yrs after Hashimpura massacre, 4 who survived watch 16 cops walk free

PAC men, accused of killing 42 Muslims, get ‘benefit of doubt’.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi | Updated: March 22, 2015 9:11 am
hashimpura, hashimpura massacre, hashipura killings Usman, one of the survivors, at Tis Hazari court in Delhi on Saturday. (Source: Express Photo by Praveen Khanna)

During the trial that stretched 27 years, Babbudin rarely missed a hearing. On Saturday, the 42-year-old showed up at 10 am at the Tis Hazari courts in Delhi, confident justice would be done. Hours later, he and three of the five who survived the 1987 massacre of over 40 Muslim men in Hashimpura, Meerut, returned home shattered — all 16 surviving personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary, accused in the case, were given the “benefit of doubt” and acquitted.

Bringing to an end one of the longest trials, additional sessions judge Sanjay Jindal, while acquitting the PAC personnel, said the court was giving them the “benefit of doubt for want of sufficient evidence regarding their identity”. Three other PAC personnel, who made up the initial 19 accused, died during the course of the trial. They had all been charged with murder, criminal conspiracy and tampering of evidence.

According to the prosecution, the PAC personnel had landed at Hashimpura on May 22, 1987 after a round of communal violence in Meerut district. They were said to have taken away some 50 Muslim men, including Babbudin who was just 15, from a crowd of 500 outside a mosque.

The prosecution said the men were shot and their bodies thrown into the canal — some surfaced in the Hindon Canal in Ghaziabad and others in the Upper Ganga Canal in Muradnagar. Just how many died never became clear though most agreed that 42 bodies were found and identified. The CB-CID of Uttar Pradesh police, which probed the case, had listed 161 people as witnesses.

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But on Saturday, the court noted there was insufficient evidence regarding the identity of the PAC personnel — the detailed order is expected Monday — and freed Suresh Chand Sharma, Niranjan Lal, Kamal Singh, Rambir Singh, Samiullah, Mahesh Prasad, Jaipal Singh, Ram Dhayam, Sarwan Kumar, Leela Dhar, Hambir Singh, Kunwar Pal Singh, Budha Singh, Budhi Singh, Mokham Singh and Basant Vallabh.

The court referred the matter of rehabilitation of the survivors and families of the victims to the District Legal Services Authority.

Vrinda Grover, counsel for the victims and their families, said: “The detailed order is awaited, so we cannot comment on the judgment. But the court explicitly stating that the victims be given compensation recognises the fact that custodial murder of the victims took place. It is the failure of the CB-CID to identify the accused. The onus of identifying the accused is on the prosecution, which it has failed to do so. This raises serious questions about the functioning of the probe agencies.”

Massacre survivor Zulfiqar Nasir, of the same age as Babbudin and the first prosecution witness, works out of a dimly-lit metals workshop in Meerut. He doesn’t forget the night they were shot. It was the last Friday of the holy month of Ramzan.

“Yasin was the first, Ashraf second and then it was my turn. While I was being dragged, I fell flat on the ground. I thought my end had come. They continued to kill, one at a time. I was shot but the bullet hit me in the arm pit. I pretended to be dead. I held my breath and lay in a pile of bodies. They then threw us into the river,” Nasir said.

At 60, Mohammed Usman is the oldest of the survivors. He was shot in the abdomen and legs. He now limps and sells fruits in the same mohalla to keep the family going.

“My family had to sell everything for my treatment. For me, life has only been about survival. We have been in debt for years. What justice can be done now.” Usman was shot and thrown into the Upper Ganga Canal. He had to spend over a month at the AIIMS in Delhi.

When the PAC came calling, they spared his five brothers. “I was the only one who looked physically fit, so they put me in the truck… Allah must have punished me for something wrong.” Usman’s five sons had to give up studies. “I could not support them financially. Now they work as tailors, in the power loom. What compensation can return them their education.”

Babbudin was the first to lodge an FIR at the Link Road police station in Ghaziabad. As a 15-year-old from Darbhanga in Bihar, he had come to Hashimpura to visit an uncle during the summer vacation. “I remember everything clearly. I was visiting Sadiq chacha. Some men came to his house and took us to the bridge. We were segregated according to our age.”

After lodging the FIR, he returned to Darbhanga. Only to return to Hashimpura five years later. “After the incident, I could neither study nor get a job. I had to come to Hashimpura mohalla for a job… The only thing that has changed in all these years is that earlier I used to work on manual textile looms, now I work with power looms.” Babbudin is married and has two children. He earns Rs 5,000 per month.

In court rooms, over 27 years

* May 22, 1987: 50 Muslim men picked up, allegedly by PAC personnel, from Hashimpura.
* May, 1987: The men were shot and bodies thrown into canals. 42 persons presumed dead.
* 1996: 19 PAC personnel chargesheeted in Ghaziabad court by Uttar Pradesh CB-CID. 161 people listed as witnesses.
* September 2002: Case transferred to Delhi by Supreme Court on petition by families of victims, survivors.
* July 2006: Delhi court frames charges against 17 accused.
* January 22, 2015: Court reserves judgment for February 21.
* February 21: Court defers verdict, seeking more clarification from prosecution.
* March 21: Court acquits 16 surviving accused, gives them benefit of doubt regarding identity.

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  1. J
    Jai Kumar
    Mar 22, 2015 at 7:50 pm
    Another traversing of justice mera Bharat mahan 30 years and no one is guilty...,, Well ISIS will love this opportunity.
    1. R
      Mar 22, 2015 at 5:13 pm
      So who killed them ,just vanished into thin air ? For a common man who goes to court or police in India this would be the result .
      1. R
        Mar 22, 2015 at 8:00 am
        worse than the Jillianwalla macre trial; there a British judge was "impartial" and acquitted Dyer What excuse does this judge have?
        1. A
          Mar 24, 2015 at 11:21 am
          Have muslims and hindus ever thought that in any macre it"s only poor who die irrespective of being hindus and muslims. Think about it.......
          1. A
            Mar 24, 2015 at 11:19 am
            I wonder why in this country we are minorities and majorities why not behave as Indians and show the door to congress party which is responsible for all this mess in the country.
            1. A
              Mar 23, 2015 at 6:14 am
              why media is worried about the judgment? minority appeat is duty of politicians and self declared intellectuals,let police force handle troubleshooters mercilessly. media should welcome the judgement
              1. B
                Mar 22, 2015 at 11:12 pm
                hum aah bhi karte hein to ho jate hein badnam, woh qatl bhi karte hein to charcha nahi hota
                1. R
                  Rishi Roy
                  Mar 22, 2015 at 9:29 am
                  The reality of a secular republic is exposed. And they consider themselves a "democracy". It will take them millions to years to lose the barbarian and truly adopt western notions of liberty freedom and equality. No where in the civilized world will you ever witness such miscarriage of justice. Shame on Indians who can live with such guilt and jump and up and down yelping in shining india. No wonder the truly conscientious Indians are turning armed revolutionaries or Naxals
                  1. H
                    HM Usman
                    Mar 22, 2015 at 6:20 am
                    Where is the justice, after 27 years, where are the killers?, what is the next step, who killed them, this is a jungle raj.
                    1. K
                      kan g
                      Mar 22, 2015 at 1:44 pm
                      such decisions will make innocent men take up arms to defend their rights, so I believe the supreme court of india shall take up the case and give justice to the survivors and punish the guilty.
                      1. K
                        Mar 22, 2015 at 10:46 am
                        It is shameful behavior of state governments and pity on the India judicial system. 27 years and still no justice.
                        1. K
                          Mar 22, 2015 at 7:30 am
                          i am saddened and becomes more sad after reading the comments giving it a communal colour . Two persons who fought most were SSP Ghaziabad , VN Rai, a much decorated police officer and a politician who sat on fast was Mr Subramaniam Swamy, who characterized it as a clear case of genocide. A book was published by Penguin hashimpura May 22. Mr Chandra Shekhar made the observation that “the Hashimpura (Meerut) tragedy was the most shocking incident in my political life…” Nirmal Mukarji observed that “the truth is that Hashimpura and Malliana affected the Muslim psyche as nothing else had since independence, for the community began to see itself as under attack by the state itself. The least that should have been done was to have promptly disbanded this particular unit of the PAC and to have cashiered its officers. But no action was taken. The outcome was that, far from being on the side of the angels, the UP police emerged as the devil itself ”. it was not a case of killing by police firing in the street during riots. But a case of cold-blooded murder
                          1. K
                            Kulmohan Singh
                            Mar 22, 2015 at 4:00 am
                            1. K
                              Kulmohan Singh
                              Mar 22, 2015 at 7:32 pm
                              So what ? Even the British didn't punish anyone for jalianwala Baghdad macre
                              1. L
                                Mar 22, 2015 at 8:20 am
                                Truth i guess.
                                1. M
                                  Mar 22, 2015 at 9:38 am
                                  Shame on governments state and central both who cannot give justice.
                                  1. M
                                    Moaz Hassan
                                    Mar 22, 2015 at 6:15 pm
                                    incredible India!!!!!!!!!!!!!!wow what a justice of genocide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!we are chocking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!it is more barbaric than the British rule for Muslims!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                                    1. M
                                      Moaz Hassan
                                      Mar 22, 2015 at 6:07 pm
                                      no justice for muslims!!!!!!!!!!!!! Afzal guru was hanged on cirstantial evidence and his family was also not informed before his hanging!!!!!!!!!! But PAC men FREE based on benefit of doubt and all the buthcher of gujarat are out on bail.
                                      1. N
                                        Nibedita Bal
                                        Mar 22, 2015 at 11:22 am
                                        What about those 10 Hindus who had been killed earlier to this macre? ??? Did they get justice???? But the sicular people people will never raise a question. ..
                                        1. I
                                          Mar 22, 2015 at 6:14 am
                                          no remorse for the seditious indian media when hindus are messacred,but their hearts bleed falsely accused indian forces are acquitted by the courts after facing the full force of law contrived against them by sinister traitors.Brinda grover could defend saeed hafiz for cheap glory.
                                          1. P
                                            Pradeep Trivedi
                                            Mar 22, 2015 at 12:43 pm
                                            This is certainly miscarriage of justice. There are four surviver who must have witnessed macre and judge should have consider their version seriously.
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