Down with state terrorism!
On March 21, a trial court at Tis Hazari, Delhiacquitted the 16 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel who had been facing trial for the cold blooded murder of people of the Muslimcommunity in Hashimpura area of Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, 28 years ago.
It may be recalled that on May 22, 1987, amidst state organised communal violence and terror, 19 personnel of the PAC were reported to have rounded up 40-45 Muslim youth from the Hashimpura mohalla of the city, mostly daily wage labourers and weavers. The youth were loaded onto a truck and taken to the Upper Ganga Canal in Murad Nagar in Ghaziabad, where some of them were shot one by one, and their bodies were dumped into the canal. The remaining were taken in the same truck to the Hindon River Canal near Makanpur village in Ghaziabad, where they too were similarly shot and the dead bodies dumped in the canal.
Due to first hand reports and FIRs lodged by the handful of survivors who managed to escape, the facts of the case were soon known. People in large numbers, together with human rights organisations, came out in protest, condemning the killings and demanding punishment of the guilty PAC personnel. An investigation committee of PUCL, headed by its then President Justice Rajinder Sachar, brought out its report of the events on May 23, 1987. In 1988 the UP government ordered an inquiry by the CBCID. Following the inquiry, the guilty PAC personnel were charge sheeted, but none of them appeared in court till 2000, even though warrants were issued against them nearly 40 times! Finally in 2000, due to huge public pressure, 16 of the accused surrendered before a Ghaziabad court, but they were subsequently released on bail and taken back in service.
When the trial did not begin in the Ghaziabad court till 2001, the families of the victims and survivors petitioned the Supreme Court to have the case transferred to Delhi, which was done. However the trial was repeatedly deferred and did not begin till 2006. And finally, on March 21, 2015, Tis Hazari Court, Delhi acquitted all the 16 accused in the Hashimpura Case of 1987, citing "lack of evidence".
The killing of innocent Muslim youth by the PAC personnel in Hashimpura and their subsequent acquittal is yet another of the innumerable instances of the brutal state terror that is a hallmark of the Indian state and that our people have bitterly experienced time and again. Organising communal violence to divide the people and terrorise one community or another has always been a preferred weapon of the Indian state, an essential part of the arsenal of terror that it inherited from the British colonialists. Vicious communal propaganda is carried out openly by those in power, with impunity. The armed forces and security forces of the Indian state are trained to be communal and ordered to play an active role in defending and facilitating the murderous mobs during incidents of state organised communal violence. Encounter killings, targeted killings of youth and rape of women of a particular community by the armed forces and security personnel are a part and parcel of this terror regularly practiced by the Indian state. Despite overwhelming evidence and persistent struggle by the affected people, the guilty are never punished. In parts of the country such as Kashmir and the north east, which are virtually under army rule, the armed forces enjoy complete immunity for all their anti-people crimes under the draconian AFSPA.
The genocide of Sikhs in 1984, the communal killings following the destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992-93, the genocide in Gujarat in 2002, the attacks on the Christian community in Odisha, the massacres and violence in Muzaffarpur during the elections in 2014, the communal violence in Delhi's Trilokpuri, the systematic targeting of churches and Christian institutions – the list of crimes of the Indian state and its armed forces and security personnel is endless.
The working class and people, across all communities and faiths, have to unite and organise to take forward the struggle for punishment of the guilty and to put an end to state organised violence and terror.