By Salman Sultan
Batla House fake encounter took place on 19th September, 2008. Allegedly, two terrorists, one of them just a teenager out of his village to Delhi for the first time were killed and one injured Police Inspector, who climbed down four flight of stairs on his own feet, succumbed to his injuries on way to hospital in rather mysterious circumstances.
Fifteen years on the case still lingers in courts. Questions were raised on this infamous encounter, in particular, repeated skull shots found on the deceased boys, which can never happen in an encounter. Jamia Millia University Teachers’ solidarity group published a report ‘Encounter’ at Batla House: Unanswered Questions. L-18 Batla house was more like a ‘Sarai(Inn)’ where students coming out to Delhi for better education opportunities got shelter. Out of incarcerating students, one Zeeshan Ahmad was not even present in L-18 at the time of incident. He, being a student of The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), was taking up an examination. Zeeshan’s father, a commerce teacher, has pinned his hopes to Zeehsan’s future career and hence went out of his way to get him admitted in IIPM by using his reserve PF money. When Zeeshan came to know of the happenings at L-18, he called his father who advised him to go to a news channel and tell all the facts. However, Zeeshan found himself arrested from that news channel office and later in police custody confessed of planting of bombs in Delhi.
Indian Mujahideen as well as Deccan Mujahideen were once catchy names used to arrest and prosecute Muslim youths, in particular, those moving out to big cities in pursuit of higher education. It has been observed that Muslim youths are incarcerated on one or the other pretext. When ultimately, they are exonerated from courts for want of substantial proof, they found themselves uprooted from the social melee in addition to losing prime of their youth in jail. Our judiciary does tend to mete out justice but often the purpose of this justice is not served due to inordinate delay. As the saying goes “Justice delayed is Justice denied”. Our courts never take into cognizance the faulty investigation, deliberately misleading arguments etc. Investigating officers or agencies are never brought to book for ruining human lives. ‘Innocent till proven guilty’ has actually been reversed ‘Guilty till proven innocent’ by media propaganda.
Even when exonerated, like in case of Mohd, Sarvar, they are not released from jail because of other cases in which they are charge sheeted. In this way, their whole life is ruined; it is no less than murder of the person as he is in effect banished from the civilized world. Mohd. Sarvar, an Engineer, was working in Ujjain from where he was arrested in January 2009 but he was shown to be arrested from Lucknow. He was arrested after Batla House incident but it is not clear as to what was his crime.
Ahmadabad and Delhi jails are still keeping prisoners alleged to be involved with Batla House incident. Judicial process lingers on at a snail pace. It is to the credit of our Honourable Fifteenth President, Droupadi Murmur, that the prisoners languishing in jails and the appalling condition they live in was discussed in a gathering which included Honourable Judges. The emotional way in which she exhorted them to do something to alleviate the suffering of incarcerated persons was heart touching?
Our justice system should play an impartial role deciding criminal acts not on the basis of religious association of alleged persons but purely on the gravity of the crime. Now-a-days news reports are so communally charged that it is almost impossible to sift out the truth. Our democracy is flawed in the sense that it caters to vote catching methodology. Winning elections is the only criterion irrespective of the means adopted. Hence, ways to polarize society is on the rise. Of course, one can win elections in this way but this will prove detrimental to the health of a pluralistic society, like ours.
The issue of Judicial and Jail reforms needs thorough discussion as it is regarding lives of human beings.