Janhastakshep: A campaign against Fascist Designs
Hashimpura massacre: Travesty of Justice
After 28 years of the proceedings, the court acquitted all the accused of one of the most gruesome state organized massacres - the Hasimpura massacre.
In 1987 the then Rajiv Gandhi government, having come to power with unprecedented parliamentary majority after the anti-Sikh pogrom of Delhi, opened the lock of the now no-more Babari Masjid at Ayodhya, to counter the ongoing Mandir campaign of BJP under the leadership of L K Adwani.
The decision to open the lock was protested at many places by different sections of the society. Muslims, being the community directly aggrieved, came out in large numbers to protest the move by the Congress governments at Centre as well as in UP. As has been the experience over the years, whenever the Muslims come out in large numbers to protest on any issues perceived to be inimical to their interests, the attempt of the Hindu fundamentalist forces is to convert the situation into a riot. Just as this had happened in post Babri Masjid scenario, this was also done in the instant case.
Rioting was instigated in Meerut. The then Home Minister, P Chidambaram has been reported to have instructed the state government to ‘crush the Muslims.’ On the night of 22-23 May 1987, the 41st battalion of the PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) of UP raided Hashimpura village in the name of a search operation. Many Muslim men were arbitrarily picked up and huddled in a truck. They were taken to a lonely spot on the bank of Ganga canal and shot dead with the service rifles by the uniformed policemen and their bodies thrown into the canal.
The entire incident would have simply been buried without any consequences to the perpetrators but for a timely report filed by Vibhuti Narayan Rai, the then SP of Gaziabad and later supported by the testimonies of 5 survivors of the massacre.
After 28 years of legal proceedings in the case, the court set aside the testimonies of the survivors to acquit the culprit policemen giving them the benefit of doubt. Apparently, no one killed the victims.
This judgment conforms to the emerging pattern in which the courts in different parts of the country have acquitted the perpetrators of heinous crimes may they be against the dalits or the minorities. The acquittal of Ranvir Sena killers in the Laxampur Bathe and Bathani Tola massacres in Bihar for similar reasons are other cases in point.
However, there is a pattern in the madness. Such crimes cannot but be committed with active connivance or direct participation of the state machinery. In any such instance the government and the police ensure that every shred of evidence is destroyed to save the culprits. It ought to be ensured in the interest of justice that the suspected government agencies are kept out of investigation in such cases.
What is particularly noteworthy is that the ruling class parties have done little more than pay lip service to the cause of the victims in such instances of gross miscarriage of justice. Mere statements of protest and symbolism have come to replace the need for a sustained campaign towards the ends of justice.
Janhastakshep calls upon the widest sections of the progressive masses and organizations to take up a concerted campaign on the issue for ensuring that justice is done to the affected families and the guilty are handed the due punishment. Such a process ought to expose the larger conspiracy behind this.