Lessons from Hashimpura

By Rebecca M John,

Editor’s note: Sixteen Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel were acquitted by a court in Delhi on Saturday in the 1987 Hashimpura massacre case. Around 19 PAC personnel were facing trial for allegedly killing 42 people in Hashimpura Mohalla of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh on 22 May 1987, of which three have died during the trial. Below is the response of Rebecca M John, senior counsel of defence in the case that she wrote on her Facebook wall.

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1) There cannot be selective calls for speedy trials. Every case involving the life, liberty and rights of individual citizens, deserves a speedy trial. This “fast track court” gimmick is just that – a gimmick -to satisfy a select few at the cost of the multitude.

2) It should never take 28 years to conclude a trial involving the cold blooded murder of 42 men. It shows without a shadow of doubt, that our system cannot deliver and will certainly never deliver when the victim or victims are poor, Dalit, marginalised or Muslim.

3) For all those who call for Police reforms- including the “celebrated ” Prakash Singh- why is it that they never talk about accountability? Who is responsible, in this case, for culpable dereliction of duty? It is no secret that when police officers investigate police officers, “ties of Brotherhood” (words of the Supreme Court, not mine ) ensure that the whole process is tainted and defective. The best evidence is deliberately suppressed. In this case, the best evidence was suppressed, destroyed and consequently, never brought to court.

4) It must be placed on record that the policemen accused of this massacre, were never suspended. They remained in the force, some were even promoted. They had the means and the ability to control the investigation and charter its outcome.

5) It must also be placed on record that this incident took place on 22.5.1987, when a Congress government was ruling the State of Uttar Pradesh and the Congress was in power at the Centre. When communal flare ups happen and when people are killed along communal lines, all political parties react in the same manner. They have a tacit understanding that men in uniform who target and kill on communal lines must be protected at all costs. In this, the Congress is no different than the BJP.

6) Why are some victims treated differently from others? How could we ignore the scale and magnitude of police brutality against members of one community?

7) A word about the struggle of the Hashimpura victims. 5 men survived the shootings, though they were grievously injured. (Like their fellow victims, they too had been abducted from Hashimpura, bundled into a PAC truck in the middle of the night, shot and thrown into the Hindon River). They came to court and bravely testified and their testimony is bone chilling. It gives us an understanding of how these crimes are executed- in the most calculated, brutal, sadistic and brazen manner and with complete impunity.

8) Who lost yesterday? India lost its right to be called a law enforcing Constitutional Republic. Not the victims, who had bravely fought for justice for 28 years. During that period, they never lost hope, they were so dignified in their struggle and they always believed that justice would be done.

It was not. And we must hang our heads in shame!


Botched up investigation by UP Police & Govt to protect the culprits weakened the case: Vrinda Grover on Hashimpura judgement