Delhi HC sentences 16 ex-PAC personnel to life for 1987 Hashimpura massacre

By Meera kalyani

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday Court sentenced 16 former Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) men of Uttar Pradesh to life imprisonment for killing 42 persons in Hashimpura area of Meerut in 1987

The court quashed a 2015 trial court judgment that exonerated them of the crime. It directed all the convicts to surrender before a court in Delhi.

On September 6, the High Court reserved its verdict on the appeals filed by Uttar Pradesh State, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and some private parties, including Zulfiqar Nasir, a survivor of the massacre.

On March 21, 2015, the trial court gave the benefit of doubt and acquitted the 16 former PAC personnel, saying lack of evidence had failed to establish their identification.

The NHRC had intervened in the matter seeking further probe into the massacre.

The Hashimpura massacre was an incident of mass murder which took place on or around 22 May 1987 near Meerut in Uttar Pradesh state, India, during the 1987 Meerut communal riots during March to June 1987 with death toll of 350.

While sentencing all the convicts to life imprisonment, the court said the families of the victims had to wait 31 years to get justice and monetary relief cannot compensate their loss.

The high court directed the convicts to surrender on or before November 22. All the 16 convicts have retired from service.

“We have proceeded to reverse the trial court judgement and holding the 16 accused guilty for the offences of criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, murder and destruction of evidence under the IPC,” the bench said.

It said the evidence against the PAC personnel is “clinching” in nature and the charges against them stand true beyond reasonable doubt.

The high court had on September 6 reserved its verdict on the appeals filed by Uttar Pradesh, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and some private parties including a survivor of the massacre, Zulfiqar Nasir.

It had also reserved its judgement on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea seeking further probe to ascertain the alleged role of then Minister of State for Home P Chidambaram in the case.The court had on February 17, 2016, tagged Swamy’s plea with the other petitions in the matter. On March 21, 2015, a trial court here had acquitted the 16 former PAC personnel giving them benefit of doubt, saying their identification could not established due to lack of evidence.
Nineteen people were named as accused and charges were framed against 17 of them for offences of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy, by the court here in 2006.

The case was transferred to Delhi on a Supreme Court direction in September 2002 following a petition by the families of the massacre victims and survivors.Of the 17 accused, 16 were acquitted while one died during the trial.

The NHRC has intervened in the matter seeking further probe into the massacre in the Hashimpura locality of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. A trial court had on March 8, 2013, dismissed Swamy’s plea for further probe to ascertain the role of Chidambaram, who was a Union Minister between 1986 and 1989, in the incident, saying he has no locus standi and it is only the police who can move an application for further probe. Thereafter, Swamy had approached the high court with the appeal.