Ex-Delhi top cop hopes ‘Batla House’ sticks to facts

Batla House Encounter
Delhi Police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, who sustained injuries during Operation Batla House that was conducted in Jamia Nagar being taken for treatment 19 September 2008. (Photo: IANS

New Delhi, July 11 (IANS) Ever since the trailer of John Abraham’s much-talked about film “Batla House” was launched, the nagging question about the authenticity of the encounters raised its head again. Former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, who was number two in the operation, says it was “definitely not fake” and hopes no cinematic liberties have been taken as it was an extremely sensitive case.

“Batla House” traces the story of the shootout between a seven-member Delhi Police Special Cell team and suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists allegedly involved in the serial blasts of September 13, 2008, in Delhi.

Kumar, who was Special Commissioner of Delhi Police during the incident and served as Commissioner of Delhi Police from 2012 to 2013, hopes the films sticks to facts.

“I would expect that cinematic liberties are not taken as it was an extremely sensitive case. But then, it may be too much to expect. Filmmakers have to cater to their audience and are usually constrained to making such changes. Also, some tinkering with facts is imperative to make the narrative more dramatic and watchable,” Kumar told IANS in an e-mail interaction from London.

“Batla House” has Bollywood machoman John, who essays DCP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav, who spearheaded the operation. The film will try to re-examine the alleged encounter case.

At the time of the incident, many said the police had killed innocent students, and passed them off as terrorists. John, in his role of a top cop, is seen questioning the innocence of the accused in the teaser that was launched on July 8.

“Hum nahi kehte ki woh students nai they. Magar kya woh bekasur they? (We do not claim they were not students, but were they innocent?),” John’s character is seen saying.

Was it a fake encounter?

Kumar vehemently denied such a charge: “It was definitely not a fake encounter. It would be preposterous to imagine that the Delhi Police would stage a fake encounter to kill its own ACP, who was one of its most competent officers. Also, a head constable received a bullet injury in his arm.”

“An inquiry conducted by NHRC (National Human Rights Commission of India) had given a clean chit to the police and its report was accepted by the Supreme Court. Despite these developments to raise fingers at the police is not only showing disrespect to the martyred ACP but also to NHRC and the apex judicial body,” Kumar added.

Known for his patriotic movies such as “Madras Cafe” and “Parmanu – The Story Of Pokhran” and “Satyameva Jayate”, John once again takes to the genre with “Batla House”. His new film’s subject, the actor earlier told IANS, was among the most controversial topics in the country.

“‘Batla House’ is perhaps the most contentious subject in India after Babri Masjid. So, I am actually attempting something where I know the probability of failure is high, but the probability of success is even higher,” he had said.

In 2012, former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had said that UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi had “cried bitterly” after seeing the Batla House encounter images.

Asked if he feels the movie will raise protests from politicians and vested interest groups out to cash in on issues related to national security, Kumar said: “If the movie raises red flags over politicians’ responses post the encounter, it would be most welcome. The conduct of a few politicians was most ludicrous and was meant only to pander to their vote bank.”

(Durga Chakravarty can be contacted to [email protected])

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