Merely 3 years after 1984's anti-Sikh riots, Meerut and Malyana were gripped in communal frenzy. But what took place on 22 May 1987 is beyond any iota of imagination. 42 Muslims were picked from their homes in Meerut's Hashimpura locality by Uttar Pradesh's Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and killed 36 of them in cold blooded manner. A few days ago a local court acquitted all the accused in the case.
This is the most talked about issue in the Urdu media these days. Hashimpur massacre is a blot on the face of democracy and justice.
Forty-two people were abducted by PAC personnel some twenty-eight years ago. Another 324 able-bodies people were also taken by a different group of PAC personnel. While the second group of people was tortured and put in jail, the first batch of people was fired at from point blank range and dumped in two different rivers.
Six people who somehow survived the killing told the story of untold barbarism of a police force that has been raised to protect the very same people.
The six people who survived the massacre are still awaiting justice, like the wives and children of other 42 people who lost their lives on that ghastly day.
A few days ago, a lower court in Delhi acquitted all the accused on the ground of lack of evidence against the accused. Urdu media, since the verdict came, is talking about the killing and the travesty of justice.
In an edit-page lead article Maulana Asrarul Haq Qasmi, a social activist and a Lok Sabha MP of the Congress says there seems to be a dual standard of justice in our country.
"It is said that justice delayed is justice denied. Another famous saying goes where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced on people and where illiteracy is high and where a section of population has a feeling that it is being discriminated against, this creates chaos in the society. And this feeling came to my mind when on 21 March a lower court in New Delhi acquitted all the 16 of the 19 living accused in the case for lack of evidence".
"Fourteen Muslim men were slaughtered. It is a truth. The survivors who saw this heart-wrenching incident from their own eyes and who told and retold the truth many a times before the court, couldn't get justice. This is both pitiable and worrisome. And by the way who played the role of villain in this undeniable massacre. This is a deplorable reality that those people were behind the brutal killings whose basic duty was to maintain law and order. Their sole duty was saving the lives of all the citizens of the country without discriminating on the basis of area, caste and religion. Not just they didn't fulfill the duty, they played holi in the blood of innocent people. And now they have been exonerated", says the cleric.
"Muslims suffered injustice when 28 years ago they were killed by the very saviours of law and they suffered double injustice when the perpetrators are roaming scotfree after being absolved of charges by a court of law", says the Maulana.
Though the carnage might have taken place some 28-years ago, it is a well-documented case. As many as19 PAC officials who were led by a platoon commander Surinder Pal Singh, abducted as many as 50 Muslim youths, many of them laborers and daily wagers. In a yellow PAC van, these hapless people were first taken to Upper Ganga Canal near Murad Nagar, some fifty kilometers from New Delhi and killed half of them in cold-blooded manner. Later when the light of passing vehicles interrupted, they bundled the remaining people to Hindon Canal very close to Delhi and killed.
Four of them who somehow survived by pretending to be dead told the story of carnage in the capital. This writer who wrote a series of stories on the more than a decade ago still remembers the blank expression in the eyes of many women, aged and infirmed who lost their husbands and sons on that fateful day. All they were looking for is justice and nothing else.
Azam Shahab, a Mumbai-based author and journalist while writing in Urdu Daily Inquilab says, "When we look at the acquittal of people behind Hashimpura massacre, it shows that law enforcement system is not just week, it has no eyes. It is also deaf and dumb".
Shahid Siddiqui, the editor of Urdu Weekly Nai Duniya and a former Rajya Sabha member says, "Hashimpura killings of innocent Muslims is our time's Jalyanwala Baggh. And the real culprits were Union Home Minister, Chief Minister of the state, police officials and PAC commandant against whom real action should have been taken. But a long spell of criminal silence has created many obstacles in the way of dissemination of justice in the case and secular parties are part of this plot. Now this brings curtains to one of the most single gruesome incident in the Independent India.".
While writing further Siddiqui who has a long association with Samajwadi and Bahujan Samaj Party says, "the maxim ‘justice delayed is justice denied' has proven true once again. This has also been proved without any iota of doubt that while we can punish an individual's killer, but perpetrators of mass killings including 1993's Mumbai riots, 1999's Bhagalpur, 2002's Gujarat, or the massacre of Hashimpura will continue to elude the long arms of law".
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Syed Ubaidur Rahman is a New Delhi based writer and commentator. He has written several books on Muslims and Islam in India including Understanding Muslim Leadership in India.