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28 July 2013

Ramblings on Batla House Fake Encounter Judgement

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By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The judgement on the controversial Batla House encounter in New Delhi in 2008 raises some fundamental questions. The judge has convicted one person who is claimed to have fled from the L-18 flat in Batla House area. If the hon'ble judge had visited the building he could have found that the building has only one exit which was manned by police and there was no possibility to escape by jumping. In such case the accused either had to be caught or had to be shot. The escape theory put up by the police does not hold any ground.

The judge should have taken the cops and may have asked them to escape before believing them. Unfortunately, it did not happen, and the judgement was based on what was told by the police. It’s really a travesty of justice.

The second point in this case that requires consideration is that the input to do the Batla House encounter came from the same infamous IB special director Ravider Kumar who has provided the fake inputs that were used for 17 fake encounters in Gujarat and that are now being probed.

If the judge could have considered probing the source of the encounter and had related them to the on-going probe the judgement may have been different.

Interestingly Mr Chidambram who was the home minister at that time has found the encounter as genuine. He says that he has gone through the sequence of events and has probed into the matter and those killed were terrorists and the one who “fled” their accomplice.

The popular theory is that those believed to be the terrorists were actually students who had come for admission in Jamia College. It was wrong information on which police swooped on them and killed them in clod blooded manner. They had no weapons to retaliate and it was fabricated by the police after the encounter. The police officer killed in the encounter may have been due to cross firing by the police weapons or he may have been shot by his colleague to settle some old rivalry.

In the aftermath of the Batla house judgement, I am reminded of the words of the death convict Dhananjoy Chatterjee who was hanged on August 14, 2004 at Alipore Jail in Calcutta for rape and murder of the 14-year-old, while working as security guard in that building. While being taken to the gallows Dhananjoy told the hangman that he has not committed the crime. This was the biggest travesty of justice in recent times.

The most recent one was hanging of Afzal Guru that’s still fresh in our memories. Afzal in an interview had said that he has not committed the crime and the entire charges against him are fabricated. He was a fruit seller who was picked up from Srinagar for hatching conspiracy to attack Indian parliament. He was convicted to death but his hanging was differed for some reasons. The Congress in order to save its skin from the BJP’s attack to punish the perpetrators of Parliament attackers finally decided to execute Afzal Guru.

It’s a very sad commentary on the developments in India and the only way a common man can express his feeling is to take recourse to some poetic lines and in this case it could be very aptly summed up as ; banna ke bhes faqiron kab, tamasha e alhe kram dekte hain….

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

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