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Meerut revisited - i
By S Ubaidur Rahman in Meerut
|When everything is being done for anti-Sikh riots, why we are being left out?, ask victims of Meerut riot
When victims of 1984 riots are being duly compensated for harrowing crimes committed against them, there are people not much far from the capital who are still running from pillar to post to get justice. Meanwhile tens of the perpetrators of crime have been given a clean chit and others have got several promotions.
It was in 1987 when the riots and the subsequent massacre of Muslims took place in the Hashimpura and Maliana areas of Meerut. Fifteen long years have passed since then. Notwithstanding several reports and clear evidences that indicted the PAC personnel, not even a single culprit has been booked to this day.
Six years after 19 constables of the infamous Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) should have gone on trial for the cold-blooded massacre of 42 Muslims of Hashimpura, Meerut, the Uttar Pradesh government has been unable to arrest and produce even one of them in court. These nineteen people are still serving in the PAC and the government is well aware of their whereabouts. The court of the chief judicial magistrate where the trial is to take place-has the home address and current postings of all these nineteen accused in the Hashimpura massacre. It is not the perpetrators of heinous crimes who are losing hope; it is sufferers instead.
Their hope for getting justice has vanished as well as their commitment to face the long legal battle is still in its initial phases even after fifteen years of unprovoked blood-bath of their dearest relatives who were picked from their houses in parked vehicles by the PAC personnel, carried to a piece several kilometers away and shot dead one by one in cold blood. Meanwhile they amazingly see the proceedings of the Nanavati Commission of inquiry probing the riots and carnage of Sikhs in 1984 just three years ahead of dance macabre in their own backyards.
‘When Sikhs are being duly compensated for the loss of lives of their kiths, why there is no iota of justice for people killed in Meerut?’, asks Muhammad Yamin sarcastically who is fighting all the cases of the Meerut and Hashimpura riots in several courts from session court to Lucknow and Allahabad High Court and Supreme Court.
‘Is it because they were Muslims?’, he quizzes this correspondent. He has now filed a case with the Supreme Court praying that the Meerut and Hashimpura riots-related cases be transferred to the apex court as he believes that there are no chances of justice in the given circumstances in the state.
He himself was imprisoned for no crime of his own and effort was made to implicate him in several cases. Yamin had to suffer imprisonment for two years, during which he was mercilessly tortured. The man now in his early seventies was kept with seasoned criminals in the prison all those days. He was elected for the municipal corporation from his prison cell. ‘I did not spend a single penny for the whole election campaign. People themselves spent money, filed nomination papers and did all the campaigning.’ It was a fitting reply to all the accusations from the press and the administration. But the man was more disheartened by the apathy of his own men. He lost his young son to the people of his own community. He was killed for saving the lives of three Hindus. But he is not complaining about his son.
While referring to anti Sikh riots he says that he feels happy that at least some people are being compensated for atrocities committed against them. But adds that people who suffered should not be seen from the communal glasses. ‘One man’s life can not be more precious than the others’ he adds. He says that he felt happy when the government recently quashed all the housing loans taken by the victims of anti-Sikh riots, but also a bit disheartened because he has seen how all these years, the people who suffered in Meerut riots are yet to get anything in this regard.
Yamin says that thousands of people were killed during the riots in Meerut in 1987, but the way the people were butchered by the PAC and then thrown in Hindon river was most harrowing. ‘There was no communal flare up. Everything was calm there. But all of a sudden they came and took these men from all age groups, from a 13 year-old child to 70-year old man. They bundled all and drove away merely to kill them’ he recounts.
Sixty six PAC personnel were held responsible for this pogrom. But the government framed charges only against 19 personnel, whom Yamin describes only as lower rung police personnel. ‘Can the government on its own decide about the perpetrators of crime?’ he asks. He says that when CBCID that probed the case found 66 people responsible why cases were filed by the government only against 19 people. ‘Why the probe has not been made public so far?’ he poses another question.
Even those accused were never arrested and produced before the Court, although they were all along serving members of the PAC whose postings and home addresses were known even after issuance of bailable warrants six times between 31 January 1997 and 16 February 1998 and non-bailable warrants 17 times between 20 April 1998 and 29 April 2000 by the CJM Ghaziabad. On 16 Feb. 1999 the CJM had also ordered for proceedings to be taken against the accused U/S 82/83 Cr. P.C. for declaring them absconders and for confiscation of their properties.
Mohammad Asif a young councillor in the Meerut Corporation also echoes his feeling. All the accused should be brought before the court and let it decide who was responsible for the massacre. Lowly constables are not the only people who should face the court, all sixty-six PAC officials should be brought to court and punished for what they did.
He is all praise for Yamin. When this correspondent asked Yamin about the numerous community organizations and leaders and regarding assistance in these cases from them, he says that no organization is prepared to do anything in this regard. They are not serious. He says that once he asked a leading Muslim organization to pay for the lawyer who was fighting the case in high court, he received blank from it. He says that it is notwithstanding the fact that all these organizations have in some way or the other tried to take the credit for fighting the cases. But he is all praise for some city businessmen who have been helping him fight the cases in the court. ‘Had I not received assistance from them, I would not have been able to fight these cases so long.’ Admits Yamin. And amazingly, these people have never received the accolade from people.