The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sentenced 16 policemen to life imprisonment for killing 42 people of a minority community in the 1987 Hashimpura massacre case setting aside the trial court's verdict which had acquitted the accused.
On March 21, 2015, a trial court here had given the benefit of doubt and acquitted 16 former Provincial Armed Constabulary personnel accused of killing 42 people, saying lack of evidence has failed to establish their identification.
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A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Vinod Goel termed the massacre "targeted killing" of unarmed and defenceless people by the police.
The high court convicted 16 former Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel for murder and of kidnapping, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence under the Indian Penal Code.
The high court's verdict came on pleas challenging a trial court's decision to acquit 16 policemen of charges of murder and other crimes in the case.
It is alleged that 19 personnel of the Provincial Armed Constabulary rounded up 42 Muslim youths from the Hashimpura locality of the city, took them to the outskirts of the city, shot them in cold blood and dumped their bodies in a nearby irrigation canal. A few days later, the dead bodies were found floating in the canal and a case of murder was registered.
Chronology of events relating to the case:
May 22, 1987: 50 Muslims picked up allegedly by Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel from Hashimpura village in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh.
May 1987: Victims shot and 42 persons declared dead.
1996: Charge sheet filed against 19 accused,161 people listed as witnesses.
September 2002: Case transferred to Delhi by the Supreme Court.
July 2006: Delhi court frames charges of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy under the IPC against 17 accused.
January 22, 2015: Court reserves judgement for February 21.
February 21, 2015: Court defers verdict as it was not ready.
March 21, 2015: Court acquits 16 surviving accused giving them benefit of doubt.
October 31, 2018: Delhi High Court sentences 16 cops to life imprisonment.