New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday set aside the trial court verdict in the 1987 Hashimpura mass murders which acquitted all the 16 accused Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) officials. Convicting all the 16, the high court sentenced them to life terms, reported ANI. (Also read: Salman Khurshid Says Hands of Cong Stained With Blood of Muslims) Also Read - Nirbhaya Convict Moves HC Against Trial Court Order, Claims Not in Delhi At Time of Incident
Back in 1987, a PAC team had, after allegedly rounding up hundreds of Muslim men in Hashimpura, picked out some, driven them in a truck and shot each of them. This, reportedly, was their way of ‘teaching a lesson’ to the community as they had been attacked a day before during Hindu-Muslim riots, activists said. Also Read - INX Media Case: Here's How Events Unfolded, From Beginning to End, Till P Chidamabaram's Bail Today
The trial began only in 1996, and in 2015 all accused were cleared of all charges by a trial court. On September 6, the high court reserved its verdict on the appeals filed by Uttar Pradesh state, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and some private parties, including a survivor of the massacre. It had also reserved its judgement on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea seeking further probe to ascertain the alleged role of then Minister of State for Home P Chidambaram in the case. Also Read - Yes Means Yes: Abandoning Lover After Having Consensual Sex Not Crime, Says Delhi HC
In 2015, a trial court had given the benefit of the doubt and acquitted the 16 former PAC personnel, saying lack of evidence had failed to establish their identities as the perpetrators. Nineteen people were named as the accused and charges were framed against 17 of them for offences of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy, by the court in 2006. The case was transferred to Delhi on a Supreme Court direction in September 2002 following a petition by the families of the massacre victims and survivors. Of the 17 accused, 16 were acquitted while one died during the trial.