Justice eluded the survivors and family members of the Hashimpura massacre with the trial court acquitting all the accused Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel last week. It seems a similar fate awaits Maliana village, where 72 Muslims were killed and burnt allegedly by the PAC and a mob on May 23, 1987.
Killings in Maliana, a small Muslim village on the outskirts of Meerut, happened just a day after the Hashimpura massacre. With no mention of the PAC personnel in the FIR, a “shoddy” investigation by the State agency and a weak charge sheet, Maliana villagers feel they will not get justice, just as the victims of Hashimpura.
The trial in the case has not even crossed the first stage. In the past 28 years, 800 dates have been fixed for hearing, but only three of the 35 prosecution witnesses have been examined by the Meerut court. The last hearing was held almost two years ago.
FIR goes missing The laxity of the prosecution can be gauged from the fact that the main FIR, the basis of the entire case against 95 rioters from the nearby villages, suddenly “disappeared” in 2010. The sessions court in Meerut refused to go ahead with the trial without a copy of the FIR and a “search” for the FIR is still on.
“Who stole the FIR? How can the FIR suddenly disappear? What is this if not a pretext to delay and weaken the case?” alleges Mohammad Yakoob, who filed the complaint on which the FIR was registered. A letter was written to the district court for reconstruction of the FIR but there has been no reply.
“The entire system, it seems, has colluded to weaken, delay and deny us justice. People were killed and burnt but then if they happen to be Muslims, there won’t be justice,” says Yakoob.
Yakoob recounts the attack which killed three members of his family. “It was an attack by the PAC which brought the rioting mob along.”
Another survivor Mohammad Nawab, who witnessed his parents being burnt after they were allegedly tied to a cot, says: “The attack was from all the five entry points in the village which is surrounded by Hindu settlements from all sides. There was no escape route. After that it was all merciless killing, burning, arson and loot.”
“PAC jawans started targeting everybody on the roof with bullets. The rioting mob had come prepared with swords and kerosene. It all started at 2.15 p.m. and by 4 p.m. there was deathly silence in the village,” he recounts.
“We were bluntly told by the administration that there won’t be any justice or investigation if the complaint mentions the police or the PAC,” he said while showing injury marks on his legs. “The rioters broke my legs and hand. After the killings I was made to sign an FIR that the police prepared,” he says.
Under public pressure, an inquiry commission, headed by Justice (retd.) G.L. Shrivastava was set up but till date its report has not been made public.
Alauddin Siddiqui, a local lawyer who has been helping the victims, says the “unnecessary and avoidable” delay was “killing” the cause of justice. “We have 25-30 witnesses who can tell how their family members were killed. But for that there has to be progress in the case,” he says, adding that no public prosecutor has been appointed in the case.