New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday set aside a trial court judgment that had acquitted 16 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) men in the 1987 Hashimpura massacre case and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
Coming down sharply on the accused, a bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel said that the "massacre of 42 persons of a minority community in Hashimpura was targeted killing of unarmed and defenseless persons. Families had to wait 31 years for justice."
The UP government had approached the High Court last week against a trial court order in which the policemen were held not guilty of the charges of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy in the massacre case in which 42 people were killed in Meerut city.
Reserving its verdict on the appeals filed by the state of UP, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and some private parties, including a survivor of the massacre Zulfiqar Nasir, the high court on September 6 had also reserved its judgment on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea seeking further probe to ascertain the alleged role of the then Minister of State for Home P Chidambaram in the case.
Soon after the verdict, Swamy stated that his lawyer had put forth commendable advocacy in court for the case. "Delhi HC has accepted my plea to set aside the Tis Hazari special court acquittal of 16 PAC jawans in the 1987 Hashimpura genocide case. I will tweet more when written formal orders are received. My advocate Ms. Ramni Taneja did a wonderful advocacy of my case in court," said Swamy.
On account of lack of evidence, a trial court on March 21, 2015, had given the benefit of doubt and acquitted 16 former Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel accused of killing 42 people in Meerut.
On the direction of the Supreme Court, the case was transferred to Delhi in September 2002 following a petition by the families of the massacre victims and survivors. Intervening in the matter NHRC sought further probe into the massacre.
After a trial court dismissed his plea for further probe to ascertain the role of Chidambaram, who was a Union Minister between 1986 and 1989, in the incident, Swamy had approached the HC with the appeal.
Those acquitted in the case were Suresh Chand Sharma, Niranjan Lal, Kamal Singh, Budhi Singh, Basant Ballab, Kunwar Pal Singh, Budha Singh, Rambir Singh, Leela Dhar, Hambir Singh, Mokam Singh, Shami Ullaha, Sarwan Kumar, Jaipal Singh, Mahesh Prasad and Ram Dhayan.
According to the prosecution, PAC personnel had come to village Hashimpura on May 22, 1987, and picked up about 50 Muslims as a congregation of 500 had gathered outside a mosque there. The victims were shot by the accused personnel and their bodies thrown into a canal, it had said, adding 42 persons were declared to have perished in the massacre.
The charge sheet was filed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Ghaziabad, in 1996. 19 people were named as accused and charges for offences of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy were framed against 17 of them by the court in New Delhi on 2006 after the case was transferred to Delhi on a Supreme Court direction in September 2002.