Delhi High court on Wednesday sentenced 16 accused of the accused to life imprisonment for offences under Section 302 and Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, in the case of Zulfikar Nasir & others V. State of Uttar Pradesh. The present case is regarding the Hashimpura massacre and killing of 38 persons by the U.P. Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel.
In May 1998 communal riots took place in Meerut District. Police and paramilitary and military forces had been posted at the Hashimpur, this included the 41st Battalion of the PAC. Around 644 men, all Muslim, belonging to mohalla Hashimpura were arrested under Sections 107, 116 and 151 Cr PC, they were divided into two groups. Out of the first group 42 males were taken away in a PAC truck and were killed and the dead bodies were dumped in Gang nahar and Hindon river.
Two first information reports (FIRs). FIR No.110/1987 was registered at PS Link Road, Ghaziabad on 22nd May 1987 and FIR No.141/1987 was registered at PS Murad Nagar, Ghaziabad on 23rd May 1987. 18 personnel were arraigned as accused; charges were framed by the trial court against the accused Sections 147, 148, 149, 120B and 364/302/307/201 all read with 149 IPC.
Trial court ruled that there was no reliable evidence to show the involvement of the said truck or the accused in the incident “Since there is lack of direct evidence against the accused persons. Most of the basic facts except the identity of the culprits have been duly proved and established on record as discussed above but the evidence required to connect the accused persons with the crime is actually missing.” Three appeals were filled against the judgment of trial court ordering acquittal of the accused.
High Court further permitted the plea of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), for recording of additional evidence. Court to into account additional evidence regarding the issue in the present appeal. Considering the General Diary Entry Register of the Company Post, Police Lines, Meerut & truck running register, the presence of the accused in the truck stands proved, not only by the entries in the GD Register, but even in the replies given by these accused when their additional statements under Section 313 Cr PC were recorded in the trial court on 16th April 2018. Bench ruled that there is, thus, evidence of a clinching nature which proves, beyond reasonable doubt, the involvement of the accused in the crime.
The court declared present case as a case of custodial death. Justifying the ruling court said “in the present case although the victims were not taken to an enclosed place by the PAC, they were unlawfully detained, kept in a PAC truck and taken to two place and asked to keep their heads down and not allowed to move. This is sufficient for this court to conclude that they were kept in unlawful custody by the accused……The deaths of the victims, in the present case, are custodial deaths.”
Court pointed out that the disturbing aspect of the present case is the targeted killings of persons belonging to one minority community revealing an institutional bias within the law the enforcement agent within the case.
Student Reporter, INBA