Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA) and Jamia Teachers’ Association (JTA) organized a public meeting on the topic, “State Violence and the (Im)possibility of Justice Lessons from Hashimpura,” at the JTA office, JMI on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. [Listen to the complete session here.]
Speakers for the event were Advocate Ms. Rebecca John, lawyer for the Hashimpura victims; Mr. V.N.Rai (Retd. IPS); Prof. Purushottam Aggarwal, academic and writer; and Ajay Singh, senior journalist.
Speaking at the event Retd. IPS officer V.N. Rai, who was Superintendent of Police of Ghaziabad where and when the killings took place in 1987, said: “After Independence, Hashimpura killings was the biggest custodial killing in the country. It was different from 1984 Sikh riots, Nellie massacre or Babri incident in that no custodial killing took place in them. Those incidents happened in the presence of police due to negligence, indifference and complicit behaviour of police. But Hashimpura was very unique. As a professional police officer, it was very shocking for me.”
Prof. Purushottam Aggarwal, critic and commentator, stressed on identification and prosecution of higher officers who ordered the killings.
“Even if the 16 or 19 PAC men were convicted and punished but what about the higher officers possibly on whose orders this all happened? No SP, IG, DIG or IAS or IPS would have been punished. It seems we live in a Kafkaland. This happens everywhere. That real culprit does have tea with us and attends parties and a small policeman or peon is punished,” said Prof. Aggarwal.
“We must strongly demand that not only those who took arms and killed the people should be identified but also those who primarily issued orders for the action or encouraged them later and then deliberately or foolishly or negligently botched up the investigation. In my view, real culprits are those people,” he said.
Senior journalist Ajay Singh said the Hashimpura incident was the biggest killings by state authorities after perhaps the state-sponsored killings in World War II.
“Those killed have become a mere statistics. As a society we tend to believe that time is the best healer. As a state, besides owning the killer instinct we have also developed a consummate skill in erasing the memories which are disturbing and unpleasant,” said Singh.
While Advocate Rebecca John, a lawyer for the families of the victims of Hashimpura massacre, talked about the intentional suppression of evidence by the state in the case which led the court to acquit all the 16 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) policemen accused of committing the Hashimpura massacre.
She said: “The judge (in the case) has accepted their (surviving victims) testimonies in totality and has said that there is no doubt about the fact that the incident of abduction and brutal killing by men in uniform stands established. However, a prosecution must go further. When you prosecute 16 people for murder it is the duty of the investigating agencies and it is the duty of the prosecuting agencies to provide corroborative material to establish that these men in the dock were actually the men who committed the crime.”
She goes on to say: “What is the judge supposed to do with this [insufficient] evidence? Ultimately he has to acquit or convict. And if he convicts people for 302 he must have evidence to back him. Where was that evidence? And why was it missing? ”
[This report is an edited republication of a report originally published on IndiaTomorrow.net, titled: “What went wrong in Hashimpura case? Victims’ Advocate reveals“]
Listen to the complete session here: