Hashimpura massacre: After 31 years, families of 40 Muslims find ray of hope in new evidence

New Delhi: The justice into the mass murder of more than 40 Muslims in the Hashimpura Massacre was denied for more than 30 years due to missing evidence pertaining to the crime that recorded the names of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel involved in murdering them.

The UP government on Tuesday filed the missing evidence ‘General Diary’ that recorded PAC personnel names and other details pertaining to the Muslim Massacre carried out in UP’s Meerut state in 1987.

The original evidence ‘General Diary’ was submitted in the Sessions Court at Tis Hazari through witness Ranbir Singh Bishnoi (78) who testified that evidence contains names of the accused PAC personnel who carried out the Hashimpura Massacre in 1987. These accused were earlier acquitted by a trial court in 2015.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) challenging the trial court’s judgment filed a plea before the Delhi High Court stating that the CB-CID had “deliberately suppressed material evidence” pertaining to the accused PAC personnel in the case which contributed towards their acquittal by sessions court.

The NHRC also sought approval from the Court to allow additional evidences to the duty registers, attendance registers, log books and other relevant documents of the accused PAC personnel, their names, duty rosters, posting under platoon commander Subedar Surendar Pal Singh on May 22, 1987 of the 41st Batallion, C company.

Following which Delhi High Court issued directions to the prosecution to submit additional evidence with respect to the “GD register extracts which are at pages 5,741 to 5,746 of the trial court record”.

The Sessions Court while hearing the Hashimpura Massacre in March 2015 acquitted 16 accused PAC personnel in the case and concluded that “it duly proved and established” that “about 40- 45” Muslims belonging to Mohalla Hashimpura were “abducted in a yellow colour PAC truck” by unknown PAC officials who were later “shot at and thrown” into the waters of Gang Nahar, Murad Nagar and Hindon river, Ghaziabad.

However, the Court said, “it has not been proved beyond reasonable doubts” that the persons were abducted by PAC officials or the yellow Truck used for abducting these people belonged to the truck belonged to the 41st Battalion of PAC.

The Witness in the case, Bishnoi on Tuesday, testified before the Additional Sessions Judge Navita Kumari Bagha.

During the Cross-examination, Bishnoi read out the original documents which 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.”

“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.”

He further read out the names of PAC personnel accused, 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.

Bench comprising of Justice S Muralidhar and I S Mehta observed on 20 February that, “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.”

VrindA Grover counsel appearing for NHRC speaking to Indian Express said : “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?”

Stating that UP Government had suppressed the facts, she said “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 concluded.