Batla House encounter: Doubts refuse to die

People still feel an independent judicial enquiry into the "encounter" is necessary to clear all doubts
Mohammad Reyaz Delhi

The bad memories of the infamous Batla House encounter in Jamia Nagar, conducted after serial blasts in the capital on September 19 last year, refuse to fade away with time. The locals, politicians and academicians of university nearby Jamia Nagar still feel that the justice has not been done.

Teachers, students and civil right activists participated in the mashaal march (torchlight rally) on the eve of the encounter anniversary conducted by Jamia Teachers' Solidarity Group, an association of teachers of Jamia Millia Islamia formed after the encounter last year. They demanded independent judicial enquiry. Many compared it to the Ishrat Jahan's case in Gujarat, where judicial probe questioned the role of the police involved in the 2004 encounter.

Newly-elected MLA of the Okhla assembly, Asif Mohammad Khan, was also present on the occasion. He said that he has been raising the issue of independent enquiry and will continue to do so at all platforms.

There is no real progress in the encounter case yet. Those who have been arrested in this connection are still languishing in jail. A report by the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) has already given a clean chit to the operation and remarked that "there is no need for further enquiry". Accordingly, the Delhi High Court denied any further enquiry into the matter.

But the controversy refuses to die down. Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD), an NGO led by Shabnam Hashmi, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the HC order requesting for judicial enquiry. "People raise questions because they have doubts. If the government and the police have nothing to hide, why are they shying away from an enquiry?" questioned Afroz Alam Sahil. He had sought information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from several bodies including the Delhi Police, the NHRC and the hospital where the post-mortem of the deceased were conducted. He has been "denied" information in a "clear mockery of the RTI," he said.

A protest march, led by Magsaysay award winner, Sandeep Pandey, and activists of Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Sanjarpur Sangharsh Seva Samiti, was organised in Azamgarh. Atif Amin and Mohd Sajid, killed in the Batla House encounter, were Azamgarh. The participants in the march reiterated their demand for an independent judicial enquiry.