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India: Press Release from Justice for Hashimpura Committee - 24 March 2015

24 March 2015

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PRESS RELEASE

Justice For Hashimpura

Today, on 24th March 2015, the families of Mohalla Hashimpura whose men were shot dead; and the five survivors, of the worst custodial communal killings in independent India expressed their anguish, suffering and outrage at the judgment of the Delhi Trial Court that acquitted all the accused Policemen of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC). 28 years later, they remembered every detail of that fateful day when about 50 men of Mohalla Hashimpura were abducted by a Unit of the 41st Battalion of PAC in a yellow coloured PAC truck by 19 members of this Unit. About 42 of them never returned home as the PAC truck was taken first to Gang Nahar and then to Hindon Canal, where the PAC Jawans fired at them in the dark of the night with their .303 rifles and threw the dead bodies into the canal. Five men miraculously survived this cold blooded massacre by the PAC jawans, and narrated this horrific crime to the Trial Court as Prosecution Witnesses.

The testimonies of these survivors and other evidence, established before the court that the men of Mohalla Hashimpura were indeed killed by men in uniform as part of a planned criminal conspiracy. The Judge while pronouncing the acquittal judgment stated that the accused were being given the benefit of doubt as the prosecution had failed to identify them as the same men who had fired those fatal shots. The victims and survivors of Mohalla Hashimpura today raised some questions to which answers must be given. Who is responsible for identifying the accused? Whose job was it to investigate these killings and unmask the names of the PAC men who committed this bloodbath? Why did a nine year long CBCID investigation not uncover this criminal conspiracy? Who are the superiors and men in uniform, who directed, allowed and executed this diabolical crime? They demanded that as citizens they had a right to justice, a right to truth and the same had been denied to them and accountability obstructed.

The victims’ lawyer Vrinda Grover, pointed out how at each stage a fair, rigorous and impartial investigation was systematically thwarted. The material pieces of evidence, both documentary and ocular were either not collected, or destroyed, or allowed to disappear. This was not an accidental lapse but rather a pre-meditated omission and criminal negligence designed to dilute the prosecution case and shield the accused. Nonetheless, lawyer Vrinda Grover asserted that they were able to present sufficient circumstantial evidence and official records that identified and named the accused as the PAC men who were responsible for the murders. She emphasized that the identity of the killers of Hashimpura was no mystery and their names could have easily been uncovered from the official records and interrogation of the senior PAC officials and other Police officers. The trajectory of the investigation shows that it was collusive, corrupt and intended to shield and protect the accused.

The delay of 28 years: FIR lodged on 22nd May 1987; Chargesheet filed on 20th May 1996; Supreme Court transferred the Trial from U.P. to Delhi in September 2002; charges framed against the accused PAC men for murder and criminal conspiracy in may 2006; Survivor Zulfikar Nasir gives evidence in court as Prosecution Witness No.1 on 4th September 2006; Present Special Public Prosecutor appointed in February 2008; Last Prosecution Witness examined on 8th December 2011; Prosecution evidence closed in 2014; Statements of accused recorded on 23rd May 2014; Defense evidence recorded on 6th August 2014; Final Arguments heard from 13th August 2014- 8th January 2014; Judgment pronounced on 21st March, 2015. This delay was calculated to benefit the accused and it served its purpose.

Justice R. Sachhar (Former Chief justice of Delhi High court),Advocate Rebecca John, Shri W. Habibullah, Tapan Bose, Uma Chakravarty, Harsh Mander, Shabnam Hashmi, Kavita Krishnan, John Dayal, Kamal Chenoy, Usha Ramanathan expressed grave concern at the continuing state of impunity as they spoke in solidarity with the victims of Hashimpura killings. They also underlined the alarming consequences of the systematic and systemic failure of criminal justice system. They pointed out that the injustice for the Hashimpura victims was part of a growing pattern where victims of vulnerable, minority and marginalized communities such as Muslims, Christians, Dalits, Adivasis are being denied justice for the atrocities committed on them. This has serious implications for India’s democracy. The meeting concluded with a determination expressed by all to continue to seek justice and accountability for these targeted custodial killings.

Justice for Hashimpura Committee

24th March 2015

vrindagrover[at]gmail.com,

shabnamhashmi[at]gmail.com,

P.S.

Please note the photos included above are by Mukul Dube.

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