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In UP Village, Demand for Judicial Probe into Batla House Encounter is Top Poll Concern

Two boys from Sanjarpur village of Azamgarh district were gunned down 13 years ago. The wounds are still afresh as the entire district was branded ‘terror hub’.
encounter

Sanjarpur (UP: Thirteen years after two youths from here were killed in Delhi's Batla House police encounter, triggering demands for a judicial inquiry, the matter appears to have been replaced in villager's minds by bigger issues like "atrocities" faced by people during the anti-CAA  protests and farmers' problems.

The villagers say they are "tired" of demanding a judicial probe into the Batla House encounter, which many of them claim was "fake".

Since the encounter that took place on September 19, 2008, they said, there have been several incidents that have blurred the bitter memory.

Sanjarpur falls under Azamgarh district that has been home to many prominent personalities like poet Kaifi Azmi and writers Rahul Sankrityayan and Ayodhya Prasad 'Hariaudh'. It was called 'atankgarh (hub of terrorists)' by some after the Batla House encounter, they claimed.

With Azamgarh's Nizamabad Assembly constituency, of which Sanjarpur is a part, set to vote on March 7, the issues on villagers' minds are "atrocities" faced by protesters during the agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens, farmers' problems and unemployment.

Parts of India, including Uttar Pradesh, witnessed widespread protests against the CAA and the proposed NRC in 2019 with police often arresting protesters and imposing prohibitory orders.

In Uttar Pradesh, district administrations sent notices to alleged protesters for recovering losses caused by damage to public properties during the anti-CAA protests. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court asked the state government to these notices.

A villager, Masihuddin Sanjari, told PTI that the Batla House encounter brought disrepute not only to Sanjarpur, but entire Azamgarh.

Though the issue will always be important for the families of those who were killed in the encounter, for others the government's handling of protests against the CAA and the NRC is a bigger issue now.

Amir, son of Sanjarpur village head Mohammad Imdadullah, said that the residents are "tired" of demanding a judicial probe and have given up hope.

Things changed over time, he said.

On September 19, 2008, Sanjarpur residents Atif and Sajid were killed and several others were arrested in the Batla House encounter. All of them were accused of being involved in the bomb blasts that took place at several places in Delhi on September 13 that year.

Delhi Police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma also lost his life in the encounter.

However, National Ulema Council president Maulana Amir Rashadi, who had launched a massive agitation demanding a judicial inquiry into the incident, said the fight is still on.

"Our fight is not whether the people killed in that incident were terrorists or not. That encounter was fake, this is our fight. We cannot call the police a liar until we have proof. But we have proof that the encounter was fake," Rashadi told PTI.

The fight for a judicial inquiry is still on, but even after years, there has been no outcome, said Rashadi, who had booked an entire train to take people to Delhi to protest the 2008 police operation.

Samajwadi Party's sitting MLA Alam Badi is seeking re-election from Nizamabad.

The BJP has fielded Manoj Yadav from the constituency, while the BSP has fielded Piyush Yadav.

Also in the fray is Rihai Manch leader and Independent candidate Rajiv Yadav, a vocal critic of the government's handling of the protests against the CAA and the NRC.

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