ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Alleged Encounter at Batla House

On 20 May, the Delhi High Court, acting on a petition filed by the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and Anhad, had asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to conduct its own inquiry into the alleged Batla House encounter of September 2008 and submit a report based upon it. This order of the high court was made after it was shown reports of four independent organisations on the “encounter”, including the reports of PUDR, the Delhi Union of Journalists, and the Jamia Teachers Solidarity Group, all of which seriously questioned the version of the Delhi police regarding the “encounter”. These reports and the petition filed by the PUDR had pointed out several specific problems with the version of the Delhi police. In particular, the following questions were raised: (1) If the boys were killed in a genuine encounter, how did the 17-year-old boy Sajid have four bullet holes on the top of his head, which could only happen if the boy was made to sit down and shot from above. (2) How was the skin peeled off from Atif’s back? This was clearly visible in the photograph taken before his burial, which is annexed to the PUDR petition. Obviously Atif had been tortured before being killed. (3) How are the other blunt injuries on the bodies of the boys explained by the police version of the encounter? (4) If the police knew in advance (as they claimed) that these boys in the flat were the terrorists involved in the Delhi and other bomb blasts, why did Inspector Sharma go in without a bullet-proof vest? (5) How could two of the boys escape from the flat which had only one exit (two doors next to each other) and from a building which had only one exit?

It was expected that in these circumstances, the NHRC would conduct its own investigation into the matter. The report dated 20 July 2009 of the NHRC, given to the high court on 22 July, however shows that far from conducting any investigation into the matter, the NHRC has merely relied upon the police reports. It has not even examined or investigated the above questions which were squarely raised in the PUDR-Anhad petition on the basis of which the high court order was issued to the NHRC. The NHRC has not even examined Saif, the third boy picked up by the police from the flat, nor even any of the witnesses of the Batla House area who had deposed before the People’s Tribunal. It has just swallowed the police version hook, line, and sinker. And this, despite the fact that there has been no independent police investigation or even a magisterial enquiry into the “encounter” as mandated by the NHRC’s own guidelines.

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