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

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Lessons from Hashimpura

The horrific custodial massacre in Hashimpura must not be forgotten.

Forgetting and moving on to find closure is not a measure that can be even thought of in the context of the massacre of 38 Muslim men in Hashimpura by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) in 1987. Therefore, the Delhi High Court’s recent verdict, though it came 31 years after the killings, warrants deliberation. And, the memories of that chilling episode must be distilled for the lessons it bears for the Indian society and polity. While sentencing to life imprisonment the 16 (three others have died during the course of the trial) retired PAC personnel for their role in the killings, the Delhi High Court said that it “reveal[ed] an institutional bias within the law enforcement agents.” Even for a nation inured to news of custodial and institutional violence, this was a brutality that was shocking in its assumptions of impunity and for anti-Muslim venom.

In fact, it is the state and the UP police, and the successive state governments that were actually on trial during the last three decades. A perusal of the trajectory of the trial, first in the lower court, and the acquittal of the policemen followed by that in the high court is an indictment of how the police investigations are handled when it comes to both custodial violence and deaths. Considering the alarming custodial death figures in the country, the nagging question still remains: Who will police the police?

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Updated On : 26th Nov, 2018

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