Tarique Anwar, BeyondHeadlines
New Delhi: Civil society and human rights activists in hundreds of numbers organised a protest march from Batla House in Jamia Nagar, a locality in southeast Delhi, to mark the third anniversary of the Batla House ‘encounter’ and press the government to accept their demand for judicial probe into the incident.
Although the march was scheduled to end at 10 Course Road, the prime mister’s residence, the police erected a barricade near Jamia Millia Islamia and managed to stop protesters from moving ahead following a heated exchange of between police and protesters.
The protesters chanted slogans against the Delhi Police and its Special Cell. They urged civil rights organisations, community leaders and local people to come forward to exert the pressure on the government to get the incident investigated independently. They termed the killing of people in the name of encounters and pick ups of Muslim youth after every bomb blast in the country as “ideology of fake encounters” and “illegal arrests.”
On September 19, 2008, two alleged Indian Mujahideen (IM) terrorists were killed in a shootout at Batla House’, while one police officer Mohan Chandra Sharma also later succumbed to bullet injuries. Locals, however, refuse to accept the police version and believe that it was staged.
Addressing the gathering, Faisal Khan from National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM) said: “Even the prime minister has accepted that minorities fear prosecution after bomb blasts.”
In the inaugural speech of the 15th National Integration Council (NIC) meet, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said: “We also need to recognize that members of the minority communities often have a perception of being unfairly targeted by law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of unfortunate incidents. While law must take its own course, we need to ensure that our investigating agencies are free from biases and prejudices of any kind.”
Khan called for that the government and the investigative agencies for the time found judicial process so that minorities are able to come out of the fear.
He reiterated the common belief that the “Batla House ‘encounter’ was a blot on the idea of justice.”
He further demanded that a commission of enquiry to be constituted that investigates all terrorist related cases, including the Batla House case.
Gandhina VK Tripathi of the Sadbhawna Mission attributed ‘illegal detention and fake encounter’ in increasing ‘communalization of youth.’
Protester highlighted the act that Delhi court has also taken note of extra-constitutional activities of the special Cell and ordered to file first information report (FIR) in against several personnel for crimes ranging from fake encounters to extortion of money.
A student from Delhi University participating in the protest alleged that framing of innocents and witch-hunting of Muslims were norms rather than the exception in terror investigations in the country.
The march was jointly organized and supported by several organizations including, ANHAD, Khudai Khidmatgar, National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), Yuva Koshish, Sadhbhavana Mission, among others.