The survivors and families of victims of the 1987 Hashimpura massacre will appeal against the acquittal of the16 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) members accused in the case.
On May 22, 1987, during the Hindu-Muslim riots, the 16 PAC personnel were accused of abducting and killing 42 members of the minority community from Hashimpura area of Meerut.
A Delhi trial court on Saturday acquitted the 16 accused, giving them the ‘benefit of doubt due to insufficient evidence, particularly on the identification of the accused.”
Rebecca John, senior lawyer who represented the survivors and families of those who were killed in the massacre, said she was “appalled” that the criminal justice system of this country "failed" to identify the culprits and produce evidences to ensure accountability for killing 42 members of minority community.
“If the court gave benefit of doubt to the 16 accused personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary whose fault is this, if not that of the State and prosecution? Whose responsibility was it to ensure that the is no delay and that the best possible evidences are not lost!,” she wondered.
“First of all it took 15 years to appoint a special public prosecutor. By the time the case came up for trial in Delhi all the best witnesses were dead, the most crucial set of evidences and documents were lost,” she said.
“It happened because of the deliberate and culpable failure of the state to produce them on record in order to deliberately subvert the cause of justice. I have not read the order yet. But certainly we will go for appeal,” she said.
She argued that it was for the State to present the best possible witnesses and all the crucial evidences and documents but they were “deliberately lost”
“ The survivors who were shot by the PAC could not have provided evidences. As far as identifying the culprits is concerned, those who survived the gun shot, couldn't have even identified the personnel because it was night time when the incident happened and most of the PAC personnel had wore halmets," she maintained.
Terming the verdict "a sad commentary of our criminal justice system", Ms. John said, "You deliberately delay and take 28 years to the extent that all the important evidence is lost."
While highlighting a “pattern of complete lack of accountability,” she argued that the manner in which the criminal justice system dealt with this case would only “encourage rouge elements in the police.”