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1987 Hashimpura mass murders case: 16 ex-PAC troopers get life imprisonment

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New Delhi, Oct 31: The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment 16 former troopers of the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) for killing 38 people in 1987, calling it a targeted massacre of unarmed and innocent people from a community.

Justices S. Muralidhar and Vinod Goel reversed a 2005 judgment of the trial court, which had acquitted the 16 men on charges of murder and other crimes, and held them responsible for criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, murder and disappearance of evidence.

The High Court was hearing pleas challenging the trial court decision.

“The present case is yet another instance of custodial killing where the legal system has been unable to effectively prosecute the perpetrators of gross human rights abuses,” the court said.

“The prolongation of the trial for over two decades, compounded by the endemic systemic delays, have frustrated the attempts at securing effective justice for the victims.”

The High Court held that this amounted to targeted killings by an armed force “of the unarmed, innocent and defenceless members of a particular community” and called it a disturbing aspect of the case.

There were originally 19 accused but three died during the prolonged trial. All the 16 from the PAC are now retired.

The High Court directed the convicts to surrender on or before November 22. If they failed, then the concerned Station House Officer (SHO) were ordered to take them into custody.

Vibhuti Narain Rai, the then Superintendent of Police in Ghaziabad who registered the first FIR in the case on the night of May 22-23, 1987, told IANS: “This was the first and biggest custodial massacre in independent India.

“There was a similar carnage in Nellie (Assam) but that was not in police custody unlike this.”

The Hashimpura victims, all Muslims, were picked up from the Hashimpura neighbourhood by the 41st Battalion of the PAC during a search operation, taken away in trucks, lined up and shot dead in cold blood. The bodies were dumped in a canal.

The men shot at were said to be 42 but four of them escaped by pretending to be dead.

The charge sheet was filed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Ghaziabad in 1996.

The case was transferred to Delhi in September 2002 on the Supreme Court’s orders following a petition by the families of the victims and the survivors.

A sessions court here in July 2006 framed charges of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy against all the accused.

The Delhi High Court said: “…the relatives of the victims who died as a result of the brutal and bone-chilling action of the PAC remained in the dark about not only the fate of the victims themselves but also about the steps taken to investigate the case and unearth the truth.

“Indeed, their 31 years of waiting for justice may have eroded their faith in the state machinery.

“This case involves the killing of around 38 innocent persons in cold blood by members of an armed force, the PAC. The gravity of the crime is obvious.

“We are conscious that for the families of those killed, this (punishment) is perhaps too little, too late,” the court said, adding that they were reversing the acquittal by the trial court of the accused.

Observing that compensation they have received cannot make up for the lives lost, the court recommended state legal services authority to address the needs of the victim families in the case of custodial killings or state excesses.

The killings took place amid communal riots in Meerut.

Former police officer Rai, who later brought out an investigative book on the massacre, recalled that it was one and a half hours after the killings that they got to know about the mass killings by the PAC.

“We could rescue one person, Babudin. It was on his description of the massacre that we registered the FIR.”

He said the Muslim youngsters were randomly picked up from the Hashimpura locality, taken through Ghaziabad and thrown into water canals after being indiscriminately shot at.

“It was a chilling, shocking massacre. Before I could launch my investigation, the case was handed over to the Crime Branch of the CID,” said Rai, who retired as Director General of the Uttar Pradesh Police (Vigilance) and later served as Vice Chancellor of the Mahatma Gandhi Hindi Vishwavidyalaya at Wardha.

IANS

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Delhi Schools Unlikely To Reopen Until Covid Vaccine Is Available: Manish Sisodia

While several restrictions have been eased in different ‘unlock’ phases, educational institutions continue to remain closed.

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Manish Sisodia

Schools in the national capital which are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic are unlikely to reopen until a vaccine is available, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Tuesday.

Universities and schools across the country were closed on March 16, when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Until we get some vaccine, schools (in Delhi) are not likely to open,” Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s Education Minister, told reporters.

He had announced on October 30 that schools will remain closed until further orders, saying parents were not in favour of sending their ward to schools yet.

“We keep getting feedback from parents that they are really concerned about whether it is safe to reopen schools. It is not. Wherever schools have reopened, COVID-19 cases among children have risen. So we have decided that as of now schools in the national capital will not reopen. They will continue to be closed till further orders,” Sisodia had said then.

A nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25.

While several restrictions have been eased in different ‘unlock’ phases, educational institutions continue to remain closed.

According to ‘Unlock 5’ guidelines, states can take a call on reopening schools in phases. Several states also began the process of reopening schools. While some of them announced closure again due to rise in coronavirus cases.

Earlier, schools were allowed to call students from Class 9 to 12 to school on voluntary basis from September 21. However, the Delhi government decided against it.

Delhi recorded 4,454 fresh COVID-19 cases on Monday and a positivity rate of 11.94 per cent while 121 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 8,512, authorities said.

These relatively low number of fresh cases came out of the 37,307 tests conducted on Sunday, including 18,046 RT-PCR tests, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.

On last Friday, authorities had said that 23,507 RT-PCR tests, the highest till date, were conducted a day before.

The highest single-day spike till date here — 8,593 cases — was recorded on November 11 when 85 fatalities were recorded.

As many as 121 fatalities were recorded on Monday, same as the previous day.

This is the sixth time in the last 12 days that the daily number of deaths has crossed the 100-mark.

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Uttar Pradesh okays ordinance against conversion for marriage, violators face up to 10 yrs in jail

He said punishment under the new law is a jail term from one and five years, and a fine of Rs 15,000.

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Yogi Adityanth

Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday approved a draft ordinance to deal with religious conversion for the sake of marriage, which could land violators in jail for up to 10 years.

An official spokesperson said the state Cabinet gave its nod to the ordinance at its meeting chaired here by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

In recent weeks, BJP-run states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have revealed plans to enact laws to counter alleged attempts to convert Hindu women to Islam in the guise of marriage, which Hindu activists refer to as love jihad .

“The way in which religious conversions are done using deceit, lies, force and dishonesty is heart wrenching, and it was necessary to have a law in this regard, Cabinet minister and UP government spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh said.

He said punishment under the new law is a jail term from one and five years, and a fine of Rs 15,000.

But if the woman involved is a minor or belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, the jail term would range from three to 10 years, he said. The fine would increase to Rs 25,000.

In the case of mass conversions, the punishment is from three years to 10 years and a fine of Rs 50,000 on the organisations which indulge in it,” the minister told reporters.

Singh said if anyone wants to change religion after marriage, then he or she can do so.

But the district magistrate has to be informed two months in advance in a prescribed form, and the person can convert once permission is granted.

He claimed that this will resolve law and order problems.

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India

S Jaishankar To Begin 6-Day Tour Of Bahrain, UAE And Seychelles

The external affairs minister will also hold talks on bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest with Bahraini leaders.

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eam jaishankar european parliament

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will embark on a six-day tour of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Seychelles beginning today, in a visit seen as important as it comes in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Jaishankar’s first destination will be Bahrain from where he will travel to the United Arab Emirates. He will travel to Seychelles in the third and final leg of his visit.

In his two-day visit to Bahrain from November 24 to 25, Jaishankar will personally convey condolences on behalf of the government and people of India to the Bahraini leadership on the sad demise of Prime Minister of Bahrain Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa on November 11, the MEA said.

The external affairs minister will also hold talks on bilateral issues as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest with Bahraini leaders.

“Bahrain hosts more than 350,000 Indians and both countries have worked together to face the Covid-19 pandemic. Flights are operational between both countries under an air bubble arrangement,” it said in a statement.

On November 25 and 26, Jaishankar will visit the UAE where he is scheduled to meet his counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“Both leaders will take forward the excellent cooperation between India and the UAE under our comprehensive strategic partnership and exchange views on various regional and international issues,” the MEA said.

Jaishankar will also discuss ways for Indian workers to resume their jobs in UAE in the post-COVID scenario. More than 3 million Indians live and work in the UAE.

India and UAE have maintained high-level contacts in the last few months.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the midst of the pandemic.

Jaishankar has also spoken to the UAE foreign minister several times in the past few months.

In the last leg of his tour, the external affairs minister will travel to Seychelles on November 27 and 28.

In Seychelles, Jaishankar will call-on the newly elected President, Wavel Ramkalawan, to present greetings of Prime Minister Modi and will discuss with him the priorities of the new government and avenues for further strengthening of bilateral relations, the MEA said.

Jaishankar will also hold bilateral consultations with the newly appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism Sylvestre Radegonde, it said.

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