New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice to 16 former Uttar Pradesh policemen acquitted in the 1987 Hashimpura massacre case, in which they were accused of killing 42 Muslim men in Meerut.

Hearing an appeal filed by the Uttar Pradesh government to challenge the acquittal of these former policemen by a trial court, a division bench headed by Justice G.S. Sistani and Justice Sagita Dhingra Sehgal asked them to file their responses by July 21.

Other cases filed by family members of the victims and the National Human Rights Commission against the trial court’s order will also come up for hearing on July 21.

The state government, in its appeal, said there were “lapses” in the March 21 trial court order that acquitted the former Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel of the charges of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy. Even the statements of the survivors were “overlooked”, the appeal said.

There were 19 accused in the case, of which three died during the trial. Those acquitted by the court included Suresh Chand Sharma, Niranjan Lal, Kamal Singh, Rambir Singh, Sami Ullah, Mahesh Prasad, Jaipal Singh, Ram Dhayam, Sarwan Kumar, Leela Dhar, Hambir Singh, Kunwar Pazal Singh, Budha Singh, Budhi Singh, Mokham Singh and Basant Vallabh. 

The trial court acquitted the 16 accused, giving them the benefit of doubt for want of sufficient evidence regarding their identity.

The court also said that the victims and affected families should be rehabilitated.

The victims were killed on May 22, 1987, after they were picked by personnel of PAC 41st Battalion from Hashimpura area of Meerut during a search operation in the wake of communal riots. 

The charge sheet in the case was filed before the chief judicial magistrate in Ghaziabad in 1996. 

The case was transferred to Delhi in September 2002 on the Supreme Court’s orders, following a petition by the families of the massacre victims and the survivors.

A sessions court here framed charges of murder, attempt to murder, tampering with evidence and conspiracy against all the accused in July 2006.

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