UP: 39 Accused Acquitted In Maliyana Massacre Due to Lack of Evidence
Lucknow: Iqramuddin, 57, was only 21 at the time of the Maliyana carnage that took place on May 23, 1987. Recounting the fateful night, which reportedly claimed 72 Muslim lives, he says, "My brother-in-law Mahmood was killed by PAC men and his house was set on fire where his four kids burnt alive inside the house. The next day charred bodies were reduced to fragile frames of ashes and buried together in a single grave."
Tears began to flow from his eyes as soon as he read the verdict that the Meerut court acquitted 39 accused of their role in the case for lack of evidence against them.
"Where would we go to seek justice?" he asked.
"There will never be justice in this case. More than half my life has been spent waiting for justice, and the rest half will pass now seeing accused roaming freely," Iqramuddin told NewsClick.
Additional district judge Lakhvinder Sood, after hearing pleas of both sides, ordered the acquittal of all the 39 accused in the absence of sufficient evidence against them.
"Everything that happened to us in 1987, which I saw with my eyes, has been placed before the court. The testimony lasted in court for more than a year, from 2009 to 2010. I had gone to court for 58 hearings to record my statement. I was never absent. I still remember the names of those houses that were burnt and killed and told the same to the court. At a time when the proceedings were still on, the acquittal of the accused is shocking, but we have hope that justice will be served sooner or later," Iqramuddin told NewsClick.
In the last 36 years, the case has been adjourned 800 times and statements of only 14 witnesses out of 61 have been recorded. This all happened in a fast-track court.
Alauddin Siddiqui, who has been fighting the case on behalf of the victims, said he would approach the High Court.
"The court order came as a shock when proceedings were still on. There were 36 post-mortem reports and the medical documents of the injured before the court, out of which hearing on the 34 post-mortems had not taken place, and the accused had not been examined under section 313 of CrPC (power of the court to examine accused to explain evidence adduced against him). At least 16 witnesses have deposed before the court. Something must have happened on that day in which around 70 people from only one community were killed," the lawyer told NewsClick.
Qurban Ali, a veteran journalist who had followed the Maliyana riots, told NewsClick, "This is a complete miscarriage of justice that the culprits of the cold-blooded murder have been let off when the statements of all the witnesses have not been recorded."
Qurban, who filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High Court seeking a re-investigation of the case by a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the role of the PAC in the killing and demand that compensation be made on par with the Hashimpura case, further said that "the judgment has been passed to dispose of the petition as the case is in "the final stages".
"Statements of all the witnesses have not been recorded. The statement of Mohd Ismail, one of the petitioners in the High Court, along with me, is yet to be recorded. Eleven members of his family were killed that day," he further claimed.
WHAT HAPPENED IN MALIYANA
On May 23, 1987, hundreds of locals, mainly Hindus accompanied by a huge contingent of the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), entered Meerut's Maliyana village with guns and swords. All five entry points of the locality were allegedly blocked to prevent escape, and the massacre followed, claiming 72 lives.
According to eyewitnesses, "Death was raining from all sides, and no one was spared, including children and women."
The trial has been going on in the Maliyana case in a session court in Meerut for the last 35 years. According to the petitioners, in this case, key documents, including the first information report (FIR), have gone missing, and more than 800 dates have been given since the proceedings began. The last hearing took place five years ago.
Notably, a committee was formed under the supervision of Gur Saran Lal Srivastava, who was then a retired judge in the Allahabad High Court, and the petitioners submitted the report after one year. Still, no government brought this report to the public domain.
Saleem Siddique, a resident of Maliyana and eyewitness of the ghastly killings, said that it was the month of Ramzan when police, along with PAC personnel, cordoned off an entire locality. After that, drunk rioters allegedly entered the houses, attacked families with sharp-edged weapons and wooden shafts, and set their houses on fire.
"Muslims youths were dragged out from their houses and gathered in vacant plots where PAC jawans mercilessly beat them," he said.
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