There is seething anger in the Muslim community in Meerut after 16 Provincial Armed Constabulary men who were accused of abducting and killing in cold blood 42 residents of Hashimpura, were acquitted last Saturday due to lack of evidence.
Some of the survivors and the victims of the massacre protested against “injustice” taking out peaceful candle march on the Meerut roads on Monday. As a mark of protest, members of the minority community had put up black flags on their doors and on the roads.
The dominant mood in the lanes of Hashimpura conveys a sense that its residents have still not been able to deal with the acquittals of the PAC personnel who they think killed their loved ones.
Those who lost their fathers, sons and husbands in the massacre, have one big question to pose: “If the PAC people didn’t kill my husband on the night of May 22, 1987, you tell me, who killed him them?”
It was one of those countless days when Zaibun was again present with a black and white photo of Iqbal, her husband who said goodbye to her before leaving for Friday prayers on May 22, 1987. He never returned. His body was found floating in the Hindon river in Ghaziabad. Pointing towards the 30-year old picture of Iqbal, Zaibun says, “ I don’t know how he would have looked like now, had he remained alive. For me, he would always be young.”
“This is the only reminder that he existed. Otherwise, even the judge sahab said that the PAC didn’t kill him. I won’t be surprised if some body tells us that he didn’t exist only. This picture is the only evidence I have to prove he existed,” Zaibun adds, fighting back tears , with a candle in her hand.
Staging candlelight vigil to demand justice, is nothing new for Hashimpura residents. What is new for them is the feeling of being handicapped. The verdict has suddenly made them realise how even their own experiences of that day could be questioned. Somewhere they are posing this question to every one they meet: “Who killed our loved ones?”