Delhi HC awards life imprisonment to 16 in the 1987 Hashimpura massacre during Rajiv Gandhi regime

The Delhi HC stated in its verdict that the Hashimpura massacre was the targeted killing of unarmed, defenceless people.

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 convicted all the accused and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

According to the reports, a Delhi High Court bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel cancelled the trial court’s verdict which had acquitted the accused. The judges came down strongly on the accused and said that the “massacre of 42 persons of a minority community in Hashimpura was targeted killing of unarmed and defenceless persons. Families had to wait 31 years for justice”.

The UP government had earlier approached the Delhi High Court following the trial court order in which the policemen were declared ‘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.

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The UP government had appealed before the court that there were “lapses” in the trial court’s findings. The trial court had given the benefit of doubt and acquitted 16 ex-Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel accused of killing 42 people in Meerut, citing lack of evidence to establish their involvement in the case.

The Delhi High Court has now convicted 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.

The shocking massacre took place on May 22, 1987, at Hashimpura in Uttar Pradesh when the town was under severe communal clashes for few days. On the night of May 22, some 19 police officials from the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (UP-PAC) entered the Hashimpura area and took around 50 young Muslim men in a truck. The PAC officials allegedly took them to the Upper Ganga Canal and shot them dead while tossing their bodies into the water, killing 42 young Muslim men.

It would seem unbelievable that the Uttar Pradesh government with had a Congress chief minister then, did not so much as order an inquiry into the incident until 1988.

The charge sheet in the case was filed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Ghaziabad only in 1996. The case was transferred to Delhi in September 2002 on the order of the Supreme Court following a petition by the families of the massacre victims and survivors. In 2015, the court had acquitted all accused PAC personnel.

BJP MP Subramaniam Swamy had also approached the HC with an appeal to further investigate the role of P Chidambaram who was the union minister from 1986 to 1989.

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