Ending impunity: on Hashimpura massacre

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Ending impunity: on Hashimpura massacre

Delhi HC retrieves a lost cause and convicts those behind the Hashimpura massacre
The conviction(दोषसिद्धि/दृढ़ विश्वास) of 16 personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) for the massacre of Muslims committed 31 years ago is a rare(दुर्लभ) instance(उदाहरण) of the justice system responding to the cry for accountability(जवाबदेही) and justice. By sentencing(सजा/कारावास ) the 16 men to imprisonment(क़ैद करना/बंदीकरण) for the remainder(शेष/बचा हुआ अंश) of their life, the Delhi High Court has signalled(संकेत) an end to the impunity(माफी/दण्ड से मुक्ति) they had seemingly(उचित रूप में/प्रतीत होता है) enjoyed all along due to systemic delays and perfunctory(निष्कर्ष/बेपरवाह) investigation. An hour after sunset on May 22, 1987, about 45 men from Hashimpura village near Meerut in Uttar Pradesh were abducted(अपावर्तित/अपहरण) in a PAC truck, most of them shot and their bodies thrown into two canals(नहरों). They were among more than 600 people rounded up by the security forces after the brother of an Army officer was killed in communal(सांप्रदायिक) violence(हिंसा) and two rifles were stolen(चोरी हो गए) by rioters(दंगाइयों/विद्रोही) from the PAC. The police later established(प्रमाणित/स्थापित) 38 deaths, but could not find the bodies of 22 of them. The U.P. Crime Branch-CID filed a charge sheet in 1996 against 19 PAC personnel, including(समेत/सहित) Surender Pal Singh, commander of the ‘C-Company’ of the 41st Battalion. The prosecution(अभियोजन ) case was backed by the testimony(गवाही/बयान) of five men who survived(जीवित रहना) being shot and thrown into waterbodies. In 2015, the trial court acquitted(अपराधमुक्त) all the 16 available accused(अभियुक्त/मुलजिम) (three, including the commander, had died by then), as it did not have evidence(सबूत/प्रमाण) on the identity of the truck or the PAC men travelling on it.

The en masse(सामूहिक रूप से) acquittal(रिहाई/दोषमुक्ति) was a travesty(झगड़ा/उपहासात्मक रचना) of justice. There was great concern(मामला/मतलब) that documents that could have helped nail the accused had been weeded out(बाहर कर दिया). It is to the credit of the Delhi High Court that it was not content(संतुष्टि/प्रकरण) with merely(केवल) examining the evidence produced before the trial court. Accepting a plea(याचिका ) by the National Human Rights Commission, it allowed additional(अतिरिक्त) evidence to be recorded by the trial court even as the appeal was pending. The C-Company’s registers, with records of the movement of PAC vehicles(वाहन) and the deployment(तैनाती/फैलाव) of personnel(कर्मियों), provided the evidence to pinpoint both the truck that had left the Police Lines, Meerut, and its occupants(निवासियों). These records were not available to the trial court. Apart from bringing home the culpability(आरोपी/दोषी) of the accused(अपराधीता,), the High Court concluded(निष्कर्ष निकाला) that these were custodial(संरक्षक/हिरासत में) deaths as well as targeted killings of people from a particular community. The Hashimpura massacre(नरसंहार/हत्याकाण्‍ड) case will be long remembered(याद ) both for the unconscionable(अनुचित/अत्यन्त) delay the judicial system has become habituated(आदी) to and for the manner in which a case almost lost has been retrieved(पुनः प्राप्त किया/भूल सुधारना) by the higher judiciary. It is also a reminder that there is a constant( नित्य/निरंतर) need for reassurance(आश्वासन/यक़ीन दिलाना) that policing and the criminal justice process in the country will remain fair, and free from all manner(तौर तरीका/तरीका) of prejudice.

 

 

Important Vocabulary

1.Conviction(दोषसिद्धि/दृढ़ विश्वास)
Synonyms: confidence, faith, feeling, principle, sentiment
Antonyms: distrust, doubt, disbelief, unbelief, overturning

2.Accountability(जवाबदेही)
Synonyms: liability, answerability, blameworthiness

3.Rare(दुर्लभ)
Synonyms: extraordinary, limited, occasional, scarce, singular
Antonyms: common, commonplace, familiar, frequent, normal

4.Imprisonment(क़ैद करना/बंदीकरण)
Synonyms: captivity, confinement, custody, incarceration, isolation,
Antonyms: freedom, liberation, liberty, discharge, liberating

5.Perfunctory(निष्कर्ष/बेपरवाह)
Synonyms: cursory, offhand, sketchy, superficial, apathetic
Antonyms: careful, complete, detailed, thorough, precise

6.Impunity(माफी/दण्ड से मुक्ति)
Synonyms: immunity, dispensation, exception, exemption, liberty
Antonyms: denial, prohibition, vet,, imprisonment, incarceration

7.Abducted(अपावर्तित/अपहरण)
Synonyms: appropriated, kidnapped, seized, snatched, stolen

8.Stolen(चोरी हो गए)
Synonyms: embezzled, filched, hijacked, lifted, misappropriated

9.Rioters(दंगाइयों/विद्रोही)
Synonyms: agitator, arsonist, criminal, demagogue, demonstrator

10.Established(प्रमाणित/स्थापित)
Synonyms: entrenched, settled, traditional, well-established, fixed
Antonyms: indefinite, undecided, unfixed, unstable, false

11.Prosecution(अभियोजन
Synonyms: pursuit, accomplishment, achievement, execution, performance
Antonyms: defeat, failure, neglect

12.Testimony(गवाही/बयान)
Synonyms: affidavit, data, demonstration, deposition, documentation, evidence
Antonyms: denial, opposition, veto

13.Acquitted(अपराधमुक्त)
Synonyms: absolve, clear, discharge, exonerate, free
Antonyms: accuse, blame, charge, condemn, convict

14.Travesty(झगड़ा/उपहासात्मक रचना)
Synonyms: burlesque, distortion, exaggeration, farce, mockery,
Antonyms: seriousness, solemnity

15.Deployment(तैनाती/फैलाव)
Synonyms: distribution, formation, stationing, categorization, classification

16.Occupants(निवासियों)
Synonyms: denizen, dweller, holder, incumbent, inhabitant
Antonyms: displaced person

17.Accused(अपराधीता,)
Synonyms: arraigned, implicated, incriminated, indicted, charged with
Antonyms: acquitted, clear, discharged

18.Culpability(आरोपी/दोषी
Synonyms: accountability, guilt, blameworthiness, culpableness, fault

19.Reassurance(आश्वासन/यक़ीन दिलाना)
Synonyms: boost, comfort, encouragement, reassurance, relief
Antonyms: discouragement, hindrance, hurt, injury, stop

20.Unconscionable(अनुचित/अत्यन्त)
Synonyms:barbarous, excessive, outrageous, preposterous, uncivilized
Antonyms: civilized, cultured, fair, good, honest

 

 

Credit To The Hindu News Paper

Delhi HC retrieves a lost cause and convicts those behind the Hashimpura massacre
The conviction of 16 personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) for the massacre of Muslims committed 31 years ago is a rare instance of the justice system responding to the cry for accountability and justice. By sentencing the 16 men to imprisonment for the remainder of their life, the Delhi High Court has signalled an end to the impunity they had seemingly enjoyed all along due to systemic delays and perfunctory investigation. An hour after sunset on May 22, 1987, about 45 men from Hashimpura village near Meerut in Uttar Pradesh were abducted in a PAC truck, most of them shot and their bodies thrown into two canals. They were among more than 600 people rounded up by the security forces after the brother of an Army officer was killed in communal violence and two rifles were stolen by rioters from the PAC. The police later established 38 deaths, but could not find the bodies of 22 of them. The U.P. Crime Branch-CID filed a charge sheet in 1996 against 19 PAC personnel, including Surender Pal Singh, commander of the ‘C-Company’ of the 41st Battalion. The prosecution case was backed by the testimony of five men who survived being shot and thrown into waterbodies. In 2015, the trial court acquitted all the 16 available accused (three, including the commander, had died by then), as it did not have evidence on the identity of the truck or the PAC men travelling on it.

The en masse acquittal was a travesty of justice. There was great concern that documents that could have helped nail the accused had been weeded out. It is to the credit of the Delhi High Court that it was not content with merely examining the evidence produced before the trial court. Accepting a plea by the National Human Rights Commission, it allowed additional evidence to be recorded by the trial court even as the appeal was pending. The C-Company’s registers, with records of the movement of PAC vehicles and the deployment of personnel, provided the evidence to pinpoint both the truck that had left the Police Lines, Meerut, and its occupants. These records were not available to the trial court. Apart from bringing home the culpability of the accused, the High Court concluded that these were custodial deaths as well as targeted killings of people from a particular community. The Hashimpura massacre case will be long remembered both for the unconscionable delay the judicial system has become habituated to and for the manner in which a case almost lost has been retrieved by the higher judiciary. It is also a reminder that there is a constant need for reassurance that policing and the criminal justice process in the country will remain fair, and free from all manner of prejudice.