The National Human Rights Commission would not like to
remember this Friday as the apex government body to protect human
rights received more bricks than bouquets in several parts of the
country when people came out to condemn its biased report on the
Batla House encounter.
demonstrations were held in Jamia Nagar in East Delhi, in front of
the NHRC headquarters in Central Delhi and 700 kms away in Azmagarh
– the native town of the two youths killed in the encounter. The
protesters burnt the copies of the report and reiterated their
demand for judicial enquiry in the case.
report that NHRC prepared following the Delhi High Court order to
probe the September 19, 2008 shootout at House No. L-18 in Batla
House area of New Delhi’s Jamia Nagar has given a clean chit to the
Delhi Police for the encounter in which two terror suspects were
killed and Police Inspector MC Sharma sustained bullet injuries
which he later succumbed to.
concluded the report saying there was no violation of human rights
in the Batla House encounter as the police opened fire only in self-defence.
This enraged the
human rights activists, Jamia Nagar residents and Azamgarh people
including relatives of the youths killed in the shootout. After Juma
prayer they came out to protest the report. They said that the
rights body just accepted the police version of the case and did not
bother to approach the neighbours, civil rights groups which had
carried out investigations on their won and the families who
repeatedly urged the body for representation and always ignored.
“It is painful
that rights activists are protesting against the NHRC, supposed to
be the protector of rights of citizens, for its own bungling in a
probe of encounter,” said renowned civil rights activists Shabnam
Hashmi leading a protest demonstration called by several groups at
the headquarters of the NHRC. It is shameful that the national
rights body just adopted the police version of the encounter and did
not bother to visit the site and talk to locals, she said.
which she leads and PUDR had filed petition in the Delhi High Court
for judicial probe of the encounter. Disclosing a little known fact
related to the issue she said: the Manmohan Singh government had
agreed for a judicial probe just before the elections but Delhi CM
Sheila Dikshit approached the party and the government to change the
mind as this will sweep the Hindu votes away from the party, Shabnam
On 20th May, the
Delhi High Court, acting on a petition filed by the People's Union
for Democratic Rights and Anhad, had asked the National Human rights
commission to conduct their own inquiry into the alleged Batla House
encounter of September 2008 and give a report upon it. This order of
the High Court was made after the High Court was shown reports of
four independent organisations into the encounter, including the
report of PUDR, the Delhi Union of Journalists, 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 about the version of the Delhi police.
1. If these 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 is 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 2
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?
loopholes in the police story about the shootout she condemned the
NHRC for not bothering to look into them.
gathering national coordinator of Association for Protection of
Civil Rights Mahtab Alam lambasted the police for its constant
policy of carrying out fake encounters. Kavita Krishnan (CPI ML
Liberation) also addressed the gathering.
At the end of
the protest a statement given to the media has question the very
basic structure and appointment of members to the NHRC.
“The time has
come to seriously reexamine the manner of appointment of members of
the NHRC and its powers. The present system of appointment by a
committee of Prime Minister, Home Minister, Speaker and Leader of
Opposition etc. is not working satisfactorily. All of them seem to
want a toothless and tame body which will not question those in
power,” reads the statement.
constitution of a SIT by the Delhi High Court to probe the case.
“Since the NHRC
report does not address or answer the disquieting questions raised
by the several independent fact finding reports about encounter, it
is therefore essential that there be an investigation into the
"encounter" by an SIT appointed by the Delhi High Court,” they said.
the statement are: Shabnam Hashmi (Anhad), Moushumi Basu (Secretary,
PUDR), Mahtab Alam (APCR), Dr. Anoop Saraya (Jan Hastakshep), Harsh
Mander (Director, Center for Equity Studies), Sreerekha & Tanvir
Fazal (Jamia Teachers Solidarity Group), Colin Gonsalves (Director,
Human Rights Law Network), Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court Lawyer,
Arundhati Roy (Writer), Kavita Krishnan (CPI ML Liberation) and
Kamini Jaiswal (Advocate).
burnt the copies of the NHRC report in front of the main gate of the
A big protest
demonstration was held near Khalilullah Masjid, meters from the
House No. L-18 where the encounter had taken place on September 19,
2008. People condemned the NHRC for the biased report on the
The NHRC report
has further maligned the Jamia Nagar and strengthened the police
propaganda that the area is a hub of terrorists, said Asif Muhammad
Khan, ex-councillor who gave a close fight to sitting Congress MLA
in the recent assembly elections on the sole issue of the encounter.
through the report it feels that the police prepared it and NHRC
people just signed on it, alleged Khan. He warned that people of the
area will soon gherao the headquarters of the NHRC.
gathering, Dr Tasleem Rahmani, leader of Ulema Council, said the UPA
has never been serious and honest about probe in the case. Had it
been so it would have ordered a judicial probe, he said.
demonstrators burnt an effigy of the NHRC and a copy of the report.
A protest was
also held before the office of the District Magistrate in Azamgarh.
Scores of people including the victim families attended the protest
and demanded a judicial probe in the shootout. The protest was
organized by PUCL, Sanjarpur Sangharsh Sewa Samiti and Karavan.
of the protest to TCN acting president of UP PUCL and secretary of
Sanjarpur Sangharsh Sewa Samiti, Tariq Shafiq said they had gathered
to condemn and reject the NHRC report on Batla House encounter and
reiterate their demand for judicial enquiry.
“We have handed
over a memorandum to the DM to be sent to the President of India. We
have demanded a probe by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court into
the encounter,” Tariq said.
memorandum has three other demands: end of violation of human rights
of those detained in jails in terror cases, a probe into the beating
of some Azamgarh inmates languishing in Jaipur and Ahmedabad jails
in terror cases, and permission to the students made accused in such
cases and are in jails to continue their study, Tariq added.