Arvind Kejriwal, who’s riding high on a wave of political change, is due to clear his stand on many issues of national significance. Shootout at Batla House is one of many such issues that he must respond to. BeyondHeadlines wrote to Kejriwal when he was Delhi chief minister, and sent him a reminder again seeking his response about it. The need for Mr. Kejriwal to make his stand clear in Batla House issue becomes vital following induction of Ashish Khetan in AAP. At one side Prashant Bushan fights for justice in this case, on the other Khetan gets entry into AAP. Reproduced below is the letter sent to Kejriwal. — Editor
Mr. Arvind Kejriwal
Aam Aadmi Party
Ground Floor, A-119,
Sub: Demand for an independent judicial inquiry into the Batla House ‘Encounter’
As a citizen of this country, you have been at the forefront of many campaigns for justice and transparency, and have successfully taken those issues to its logical conclusion. We, as a citizen of this country, would like to remind you of another important issue, the police shootout at Batla House in 2008, which needs your immediate attention.
I wrote a letter to you when you were CM (dated: 20 January, 2014) with the same demand, but we received not answer from you. I would like to remind you that I have personally met you many times on this issue before you became chief minister of the state. On those occasions, and also publicly, you had agreed that the said encounter was fake and there should be an impartial enquiry. You had reiterated that the same thing when you came to Okhla during campaign for the Assembly elections.
In an open letter addressed to the nation, titled ‘Politics of Brotherhood’, you had said, “(Also) in case of Batla House, several people raised a doubt if those youths needed to be killed or could they have been arrested alive? If they were terrorists, it was very important to arrest them and reach their handlers. But if they were innocent, shouldn’t the police personnel present be punished.”
While Senior Supreme Court Counsel and your party leader Prashant Bhushan had been fighting for justice in this case, your party has recently inducted senior Journalist Ashish Khetan, who has openly argued agreeing with the police version and regarding it as a genuine encounter. By giving ticket to him, do you personally subscribe to his belief or that of Mr Bhushan?
We were really happy when you directed for an SIT in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots although even in riot cases several court judgements and reports have come. We had hoped that you would order similar probe on the Batla House shoot-out, as not only two youth were killed, but one police officer was also martyred. As chief minister of Delhi, however, you referred to the court judgement and appeared to have changed your stand on the issue. There seems so much of confusion and suspicion on the issue, and hence an independent probe would have only cleared the doubts from the mind of large number of people.
Now that you are preparing for the general elections, we hope that you will make your stand clear on the subject and demand a fair probe.
The detail of the said case goes like this: On September 19, 2008, two young men were killed, in what came to be known as Batla House encounter. It was alleged that they had executed the 2008 Delhi serial blasts and were planning a 9/11 type attack or retaliation for the “injustice meted out to them”. The encounter, according to Congress’s senior leader Salman Khurshid, brought tears to the eyes of Sonia Gandhi. It was announced just before the UP assembly elections. Also, you might be aware that many of the national political parties questioned the genuineness of the encounter. Congress leader, Digvijay Singh, repeatedly claimed the encounter to be fake.
I am personally involved in this process from the very beginning. Immediately after the alleged encounter, I recall, that several theories started doing rounds and it was amidst this confusion that I filed several RTI applications to find out the truth. But almost all the government department rejected my request, referring me from one window to other. That made me all the more suspicious of the encounter. There seemed something is being hid from public eyes.
If you observe the events of the entire case, you will realize that all procedures and norms were flouted in this alleged shoot out even as the government tried to manufacture consent that the Indian Mujahedeen network has been busted. Although, as the honorable Judge in this case observed later that this particular case had nothing to do with their purported links with terror groups, and the fact is that the prosecution failed to produce any credible evidence to establish their basic premise that they were IM members hiding in that particular flat.
The then Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, NCT, Tejendra Khanna, opposed a Magisterial inquiry into this encounter, the Delhi minority commission’s four member fact finding committee was denied to investigate the case. A confusion was created on the name of Shahzad (who was alleged to have shot dead inspector MC Sharma). Police initially mentioned him in different government documents as Shahnawaz or Shahabaz alias Pappu. Though police claimed to have seized his passport which will have his exact name but ironically they couldn’t find his exact name. A note prepared about the seizures by Karnal Singh (Joint-Commissioner of Police) and Satish Chandra’s letter (Special Commissioner of Police) did not mention the passport initially. These facts and many more speak twisted story of encounter. The death of MC Sharma also builds suspicion around the facts.
Politics however on the Batla Encounter has not stopped. There is an urgent need that politics over the death must stop. Unfortunately leaders of all colors have used the Batla House shootout for their own narrow political agendas. Several local politicians have literally risen over the dead bodies of those killed in that flat. Even national leaders have not shied away from exploiting the sentiments of people over the issue. I don’t need to name them again and again. All of us know how they attempted to manipulate emotions over the incident.
Both governments, at NCT Delhi and UPA at centre, have shown extremely callous attitude towards the demand for an independent probe. You have been stressing on the need to deal with the alienation of Muslim youth but the denial to order a magisterial inquiry into the encounter raises questions about government’s seriousness as a protector of rights and liberty.
Batla House Encounter has done irreparable damage to the psyche of the Muslims in country. Incidents like Batla House have created a sense of alienation and paranoid among Muslim youth.
The way enquiries were scuttled and facts were twisted, over and over again, speaks volume of the seriousness of the cases. It warrants an immediate judicial probe in the matter. The independent probe being asked by responsible leaders and general public is not only to punish the wrong-doers but also to bring back AamAdmi’s faith in our democratic setup. But not only that, the probe can establish give solace, and closure to the soul of inspector MC Sharma and his family.
Your government, therefore, is requested to do the needful at the earliest so as to provide justice to the effected party, directly or indirectly An anguished community will regain their lost faith in democracy and judiciary and above all, they will revere the man who has always fought for AamAdmi’s rights.
With regards and high hopes,
Thanking you in anticipation
Note: Below are given links of the stories on Batla House encounter-related that I got through RTI application which I chronicled on ‘Beyondheadlines’, a media platform for INSAAN International Foundation.