More than 30 years after the Hashimpura massacre, the Uttar Pradesh government Tuesday, for the first time, filed as evidence a missing general diary that recorded the names of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel who were allegedly involved in the killing of at least 40 Muslims.
The general diary, submitted through a witness Ranbir Singh Bishnoi (78) who deposed Tuesday, allegedly contains names of the PAC personnel who were named as accused and acquitted by a trial court in 2015.
Bishnoi appeared before a sessions court at Tis Hazari and filed the original evidence of the general diary (GD) that details names of the PAC members posted at the police line, Meerut in 1987. His deposition came after a Delhi High Court order, following a plea by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), directed the prosecution to lead additional evidence with respect to the “GD register extracts which are at pages 5,741 to 5,746 of the trial court record”.
In March 2015, the sessions court in acquitting the surviving 16 PAC personnel concluded that “it duly proved and established” that “about 40- 45” persons belonging to Mohalla Hashimpura were “abducted in a yellow colour PAC truck” by PAC officials and subsequently “shot at and thrown” into waters of Gang Nahar, Murad Nagar and Hindon river, Ghaziabad.
It, however, also said that “it has not been proved beyond reasonable doubts” that the accused are the PAC officials who abducted and killed the people or that the truck belonged to the 41st Battalion of PAC.
On Tuesday, Bishnoi deposed before Additional Sessions Judge Navita Kumari Bagha, and said: “At the time of filing chargesheet, I had examined all the documents and filed them along with the charge sheet. Photocopies of GD dated May 22, 1987, running into six pages of C Post Police Line, Meerut were filed along with the charge sheet. The originals of the same are now submitted before the court and exhibited.”
“It is incorrect to suggest that the documents are not original documents. According to the GD No.6, on May 22, 1987, at 7:50 am, police force was sent to Outpost Pilokhadi, PS Lisadi Gate, Meerut, UP. PC (platoon commander) Surender Pal Singh… went to outpost Pilokhadi. At that time they were having 17 rifles, 850 rounds, one revolver with 30 rounds and they had gone there in the truck bearing registration No. URU-1493 and the driver of said truck was Ct (constable) Mokham Singh,” said Bishnoi while reading out the original documents during the cross-examination in court.
“As per the GD No.15… at about 9:00 pm, the aforesaid PAC team came back to police line Meerut from OP Pilokhadi. As per the record… the aforesaid officials were not assigned any other duty on May 22, 1987, after they came back from OP Pilokhadi to police line… It is incorrect to suggest that I have produced a made up record.”
In court on Tuesday, Bishnoi read out a list of 17 names. Platoon Commander Surender Pal Singh, Head Constables Niranjan Lal, Kamal Singh, Sarwan Kumar, Kush Kumar, SC Sharma, constables Om Prakash, Shami Ullah, Jai Pal, Mahesh Prasad, Ram Dhayan, Leela Dhar, Hambir Singh, Kunwar Pal, Budha Singh, Basant Ballabh and Naik Rambir Singh.
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The new revelations come in the backdrop of an appeal filed before the Delhi High Court in May 2015, challenging the trial court order. During the appeal, the NHRC had stated that the CB-CID had “deliberately suppressed material evidence” concerning PAC personnel.
The NHRC also filed a plea to allow additional evidence with respect to the duty registers, attendance registers, log books and other documents relating to the names, duty rosters, posting and connected relevant details of PAC personnel under platoon commander Subedar Surendar Pal Singh on May 22, 1987 of the 41st Batallion, C company.
On February 20, a bench of Justices S Muralidhar and I S Mehta had said, “The court has perused the trial court record and it has seen that the document… filed by the State of Uttar Pradesh forms part of trial court record. The said document is at page 5,743 of the trial court record. For reasons that are not clear that document has not been exhibited in the trial court and not adverted to by any of the prosecution witnesses or even by the sole defence witness examined.”
NHRC counsel Vrinda Grover told the Indian Express: “When the NHRC filed the plea, the UP government had earlier given us the photocopy of GD register. And they gave us a typed copy. I kept asking where did the photocopy come from. How can one make a photocopy out of thin air?”
“The UP government was not revealing anything. But when HC gave direction that you have to produce this before the court, low and behold, after 31 years there is on original GD which the people in CB-CID, for the three decades have been suppressing. To an extent that it was also suppressed from the special public prosecutor. I cannot think of a more blatant illustration of shielding of accused.”
“The trial court has said that it cannot come to a conclusion as who were the PAC members present inside the truck. Now there is a register exhibited in court which showed the entire C company of 41 and names of the accused feature in the registry. Now, this is the most relevant link and clear evidence that shows that these were 19 PAC men, who went on the truck,” she said.