Twenty years after being shot at, 47-year-old Mohamad Usman, a prosecution witness and survivor of the May 22, 1987 Hashimpura massacre, told the court today how he was “pulled out of the truck, shot at twice and thrown into the gang stream”.
There are five surviving witnesses of the police massacre following a riot in the Hashimpura region near Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. It is alleged that 19 Provincial Armed Core (PAC) jawans picked up around 50 Muslim youth from the area on that day and shot dead between 42-45 of them.
Usman is the third prosecution eyewitness who told the court how and when the youth were picked up from their homes. “We were sorted out on the basis of our strength and physique, while elders and children were picked up and set free. The youth were grouped together and put in a yellow PAC truck.”
According to Usman, after three boys were pulled out and shot point blank the others in the truck started screaming so the PAC jawans opened fire to quieten them. He was the “fourteenth or fifteenth person to be shot and thrown into the stream.”
He said, “I survived only because I pretended to be dead.” Usman told the court that the shooting continued for 30 to 35 minutes “after which the PAC jawans got into the truck and left.”
He described how he along with “two or three others found their way to the main road where they stopped two policemen on a motorcycle coming from the town.”
“We were then taken to a hospital and told never to mention that we were shot by PAC jawan,” Usman told the court. His testimony will continue on Monday.
The case was registered against PAC officials soon after the incident and subsequently, the case was moved to the Delhi Sessions Court in 2003 by an order of the Supreme Court.
The case is being heard on a day-to-day basis since February 7 following an order passed by ASJ N P Kaushik on February 5.
There are 19 accused in the case, including a company commander Surinder Pal Singh, of which three have died during the course of the trial.
• May 22, 1987: 17 PAC men allegedly abduct and gun down 41 Muslims
• 1988: CB-CID begins probe; submits report in 1994, not made public until victims’ families file petition in the Allahabad HC in 1995
• 1996: Chargesheet filed in Ghaziabad. Accused not arrested, govt claims they have not been located though they are still with PAC. 16 arrested by 2000, one absconding
• September 2002: With argument on charges yet to commence, SC orders case to be shifted to Delhi after allegations of attempts to stall judicial process in UP
• October ‘02 to March ‘04: No Special Public Prosecutor appointed by UP govt
• November 2004: New prosecutor appointed, argument on charges starts
• June 2006: Charges of murder, attempt to murder and destruction of evidence framed. Trial listed to begin July 15
• July 15: Prosecution submits in court that case materials not handed over by govt. Examination of first witness, Zulfikar Nasir fixed for July 22
• July 27: Court informed that rifles used by the accused had been re-distributed by the government, instead of being sealed and sent as material evidence. Court seeks production of these rifles
• August 8: All 18 rifles produced in court. Examination of second witness listed to begin at later hearing
• February 8, 2007: Examination of third witness begins. Trial on day-to-day basis