Delhi High Court on Wednesday overturned the Tiz Hazari Court’s judgment and convicted 16 former Provincial Army Constabulary(PAC) officials sentencing them to life imprisonment for killing 42 Muslims in Hashimpura village in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh(1987 communal riots).

The trial court had acquitted the accused in March 2015 due to unclear evidence. The National Human Rights Commission, the victims’ families and a survivor of the massacre, Zulfiqar Nasir challenged the trial court’s verdict and appealed for justice in the Delhi High court.

Finally, after three decades of fighting for justice, the Delhi High court bench consisting of Justice L Muralidhar and Vinod Goel gave their judgment and convicted PAC officials for kidnapping and murder of 42 innocent and defenseless Muslims, criminal conspiracy and tampering of evidence under Indian Penal Code.

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There were a total of 17 accused in the case, but one of the former PAC officials died during the trial.

The Hashimpura mass massacre was a part of the 1987 communal riots of Meerut, which traced back to the opening of the black seal of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya by the government in 1986. The communal riots of Meerut had taken more than 350 lives and witnessed brutal killings of both Hindus and Muslims.

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The PAC officials in Hashimpura initiated ‘targeted killings’ towards innocent Muslims in the region. They abducted about 45 Muslims from there, dumped them into their vehicles and took them to Murad Nagar canal and shot them dead. Few of them were able to survive and escape through.

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One such survivor was Zulfiqar Nasir, while speaking to Eenadu Bharat he recalled, “On 22 May 1987 personnel of PAC arrested many innocent people from our locality and dumped them in 4-5 trucks, who were sent to jail. One truck was halted near Murad Nagar canal and all the arrested people were shot at by the police. All the people died except me and four other people survived somehow.”

“Whenever I recall that horrific incident, my heart shivers as it renders me sleepless. The verdict that brought justice today will bring peace to the souls of persons killed in that horrendous incident. We are satisfied with the verdict and shows finally the truth prevails and justice simply becomes unavoidable,” he added.

According to him, “Earlier, the case was on trial in Tis Hazari Court in Delhi but the accused were pronounced innocent. The judgment was unjustified and it left us dejected. Later, we appealed in Delhi High Court which finally delivered justice by its verdict today. During three-decades-long fight, we struggled but did not give up. Though the justice is delayed but we are satisfied with the verdict today.”

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The families of the victims are finally content with the Delhi High Court verdict. Though justice was delayed, it is finally served. With a lot of people losing faith in the judiciary, the Delhi High court, by passing a judgment in favor of the victims and their families, has given the citizens a ray of hope that justice always prevails in a democracy.

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