In a major development on Monday, terrorist Ariz Khan convicted of murdering Delhi Police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma during the Batla House encounter was awarded the death penalty by a Delhi Court. The same court had pronounced Ariz Khan guilty on March 8, asserting that the prosecution had successfully proved the case.
The Batla House encounter dates back to September 19, 2008, during which two Indian Mujahideen terrorists namely Atif Amin and Mohammad Sajid were neutralised. The terrorists had been hiding in a locality in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, after killing about 30 people in Delhi serial blasts. When the Delhi police received intelligence reports about their hideout, they ambushed the locality leading to the encounter of the two terrorists. Three others, including Ariz Khan, managed to escape the law enforcement before being nabbed in 2018.
Although brave Delhi Police cop Mohan Chand Sharma was martyred, several politicians began peddling conspiracy theories to suggest that the encounter was a false-flag operation. Instead of empathising with the martyr’s family, top political leaders from the Congress, Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) appeared to be resorting to Muslim appeasement and vote bank politics to stir sympathy for the Indian Mujahideen terrorists.
Batla House encounter was fake, claimed Congress leader Digvijaya Singh
While addressing the media in July 2013 during his visit to Indore, Congress heavyweight leader Digvijaya Singh refused to apologise to the BJP over his claims that the Batla House encounter was fake. Singh stated, “I will never apologise. I still maintain that encounter was fake.” He further reiterated that those unhappy with the verdict in the Batla House case can appeal to the Court.
Singh, who had been demanding a judicial probe in the Batla House encounter, said, “I have not seen the court order nor am I one of the parties in the case. The parties in the case can accept it or appeal against it. It will be their decision.”
Digvijaya Singh, who had been vocal against the Batla House encounter, had also released a book in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. The book claimed that the Mumbai terror attack, which was the handiwork of the Pakistani terrorists, was instead an RSS conspiracy.
Mamata Banerjee claimed Balta House encounter was fake
Back in 2008, Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee had even vowed to quit her political career if her claim that the ‘Batla House encounter was fake’ turned out to be false. “The encounter was fake. If it turns out to be false, then I will leave politics.”
Here is a video of Banerjee promising to quit politics if Batla House encounter is not fake.
Arvind Kejriwal, Muslim vote bank and his defence of terrorists
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal did not want to be left behind. In 2013, Arvind Kejriwal demanded an ‘independent investigation’ into the Batla House encounter. Casting aspersions on the authenticity of the encounter, he said, “The court has said the youth (killed in the Batla House incident) were terrorists. I had said that even if they were terrorists, it was extremely important to catch them alive to know who their real handlers are. There needs to be an independent investigation to know if it was necessary to kill them.”
He had also insinuated that the martyrdom of Mohan Chand Sharma was an inside job. “It must also be probed under what circumstances the police officer (Mohan Chand) was killed,” Kejriwal emphasised. In a bid to draw Muslim voters, he said that his party members such as Prashant Bhushan have been fighting battles for Muslims like in ‘fake Batla House encounter.’
Kejriwal had made these statements just months ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections where his party emerged as single largest party but had failed to cross the majority mark.
Recently, Law Minister RS Prasad hit out at both Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal for casting aspersions about the 2008 encounter. He said, “The Samajwadi Party, BSP, Congress, Left and Mamata Banerjee made the Batla House incident a national issue. What does this mean? Will our fight against terrorism be weakened for votes? Today, after more than 100 people testified and scientific and medical evidence led to the conviction of a big terrorist in the case, will these parties apologise.”
Sonia Gandhi cried over ‘visuals’ of Batla House encounter
Salman Khurshid, a senior Congress leader, in one of his rallies during the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, had said that Sonia Gandhi, the then Congress President cried bitterly after seeing the images of the slain terrorists.
Khurshid had said, “When we showed Sonia Gandhi the images of the ‘incident’, she started crying bitterly and with folded hands, she said please do not show me these pictures. Immediately go and speak to the Wazir-e-Azam (Dr Manmohan Singh) and discuss the mater. I talked to the PM and it was decided that the matter will be further investigated.”
However, in 2019, Salman Khurshid retracted his statement and claimed that he was quoted out of context. He said, “I never said that. In fact, I was misquoted. There was a difference between what I had said and what the media projected. I had said that the then Congress President didn’t wish to see visuals of an encounter (as the images are painful in nature).” Except, it does not appear so.
While political opportunism is not new to Indian politics, the Batla House encounter was a glaring example of putting vote bank politics over the country’s interests. By insinuating that the probe was not independent, stirring sympathy for the terrorists, mocking the martyrdom of MC Sharma, casting aspersions about the genuinity of the encounter, the Congress, AAP and TMC have let the country down.