Ending impunity: on Hashimpura massacre
Mains Paper: 2 | Judiciary
Prelims level: Provincial Armed Constabulary
Mains level: Responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies
The conviction of 16 personnel of the Provincial Armed
Constabulary (PAC) for the massacre of Muslims committed 31 years ago.
It is a rare instance of the justice system responding to
the cry for accountability and justice.
By sentencing the 16 men to imprisonment for the remainder
of their life, the Delhi High Court has signalled an end to the impunity they
had seemingly enjoyed all along due to systemic delays and perfunctory
Important highlights of the incident
An hour after sunset on May 22, 1987, about 45 men
from Hashimpura village near Meerut in Uttar Pradesh were abducted in a PAC
truck, most of them shot and their bodies thrown into two canals.
More than 600 people rounded up by the security forces
after the brother of an Army officer was killed in communal violence and two
rifles were stolen by rioters from the PAC.
The police later established 38 deaths, but could not find
the bodies of 22 of them.
The U.P. Crime Branch-CID filed a charge sheet in 1996
against 19 PAC personnel, including Surender Pal Singh, commander of the
‘C-Company’ of the 41st Battalion.
The prosecution case was backed by the testimony of five
men who survived being shot and thrown into waterbodies.
In 2015, the trial court acquitted all the 16 available
accused (three, including the commander, had died by then), as it did not have
evidence on the identity of the truck or the PAC men travelling on it.
Delaying in judiciary process
The en masse acquittal was a travesty of justice.
There was great concern that documents that could have
helped nail the accused had been weeded out.
It is to the credit of the Delhi High Court that it was
not content with merely examining the evidence produced before the trial court.
Accepting a plea by the National Human Rights Commission,
it allowed additional evidence to be recorded by the trial court even as the
appeal was pending.
The C-Company’s registers, with records of the movement of
PAC vehicles and the deployment of personnel, provided the evidence to pinpoint
both the truck that had left the Police Lines, Meerut, and its occupants.
These records were not available to the trial court. Apart
from bringing home the culpability of the accused, the High Court concluded that
these were custodial deaths as well as targeted killings of people from a
The Hashimpura massacre case will be long remembered
both for the unconscionable delay the judicial system has become habituated
to and for the manner in which a case almost lost has been retrieved by the
It is also a reminder that there is a constant need for
reassurance that policing and the criminal justice process in the country will
remain fair, and free from all manner of prejudice.
Q.1) Which organization is considered the forerunner of CBI?
a) Intelligence Bureau
b) Special Police Establishment
c) Research and Analysis Wing
d) Provincial Armed Constabulary
Q.1) In the context of Hashimpura massacre case, Indian judiciary system need to
speed up in their system. Critically examine the statement.