Justice Delayed and Denied
The denial of justice to the victims and those who survived the massacre of the youth of Hashimpura and Maliana is so blatant that it could well deserve the tag of ‘murder of justice’.
Justice was not only delayed but was also completely denied to the families whose youth were killed en masse in cold blood in 1987 and their corpses were thrown in a canal near Meerut in the wake of anti-Muslim violence in the Uttar Pradesh town just 62 kms east of Delhi.
The March 19 verdict by a Tees Hazari court which acquitted the 16 surviving members of the killer PAC (three of the 19 accused died in the 27-year interregnum), despite strong evidences against them, is a complete travesty and mockery of justice. The State Administration, regardless of party in power, had pursued a policy of stalling prosecution and ensuring acquittal of the accused from the beginning. The very terming of the killing as ‘an act of genocide’ by the Amnesty International should have resulted in the case being pursued with alacrity and earnestness. But all hopes were dashed till 1996 when chargesheets were filed against the 19 PAC members by a determined group of civil rights activists led by Prof. Iqbal A. Ansari.
Yet the brazen disregard of the evidence proffered by the victims who had been shot but emerged alive from the canal (after having been left for dead by the criminals in uniform) defies logic for being given benefit of doubt. The senseless killings had dominated the media headlines all across the world for over a month.
The dilly-dallying by the State Government and the attempt to save the criminals was clearly evident from the start. The accused were shown absconding even though they were very much in the service of the State. Firstly, they should have been denied the bail—and should have also been suspended during the trial—but their bail was granted by a district court on the grounds of their being in the service of the PAC.
The verdict is not only bound to result in deep disappointment, but intense frustration among the relatives whose youth were killed without any rhyme, reason or provocation by the trigger-happy security personnel who were supposed to safeguard the lives, property and dignity of the people. It is a sad reflection on the justice delivery system that can ignore such strong evidence and acquit the criminals.