Verdict irks Batla House residents

Last Updated: Thu, Jul 25, 2013 15:14 hrs

New Delhi: A section of people in Delhi's Batla House neighbourhood, the spot of a shootout in 2008, Thursday aired dissatisfaction over the conviction of an Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative for the gunfight which left a police inspector dead.

Shahzad Ahmad was held guilty by a court here for killing Delhi Police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, who led a raid on a flat in the area where terror suspects were present.

Just after the trial court's decision, a Batla House resident Amanullah Khan told IANS: "We are not happy with the decision, but we are not surprised."

"We demanded a magisterial inquiry but it was rejected by the union and state governments saying that such an inquiry will demoralise Delhi Police. It means that the government already believed that the boys were terrorist," he said.

Once the central and state governments rejected the demand for judicial inquiry into matter, it was clear that the trial court would convict Ahmad, from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, said another resident.

Retired professor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Firoz Alam told IANS: "We were expecting this ruling only because the government had already denied a judicial probe in the case."

The residents also did not believe the theory of Delhi Police officials who claimed that Ahmad, along with another accused Junaid, had jumped off the balcony and fled after firing at the police party.

"There is no such structure on the back side of the building which Delhi Police claim was used by them to escape," said Maseeh Alam, an eye-witness who lives close to the L-18 flat in the four-storeyed building in Batla House where the incident took place.

The police team's attempts to storm the flat Sep 19, 2008 on the second floor around 10.30 a.m. resulted in exchange of fire, the prosecution said.

Alam said at the time of the shootout policemen were present at the front gate of the building and it was not possible for anyone to run away from there.

Waseem Ansari, another resident of the neighbourhood, said: "Five years after the shootout, residents say life has returned to normal in the area but they still feel embarrassed when they are suspected as terrorists."

The shootout took place between the seven-member Delhi Police Special Cell team, led by Sharma, and suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists, allegedly involved in the Sep 13, 2008, serial blasts in Delhi that killed over 26 people and over 133 injured.

Two suspected terrorists - Atif Amin and Mohd Sajid - were killed, Mohd Saif was arrested while Ahmad and Junaid managed to escape, said police.

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