Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh): The Allahabad High Court will review the acquittal of 39 accused persons in the 1987 Maliana massacre in Meerut district in which 72 people were killed by a mob, allegedly including the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel.
The high court has summoned the lower court’s records related to the acquittal of 39 accused.
Hearing a criminal appeal filed by a survivor of the killings, Rais Ahmad, a division bench comprising Justice Siddhartha Varma and Justice Manish Kumar Nigam said, “Summon the lower court record. List this case on August 14, 2023.”
Rais had challenged the verdict of the sessions court of Meerut district that had acquitted all 39 accused in the case on March 31 this year for lack of evidence.
It may be recalled that on May 23, 1987, riots broke out in Maliana following clashes in neighbouring Hashimpura the previous day.
In the violence in Maliana, 72 people were killed, while in Hashimpura, 42 lost their lives.
According to the victims’ lawyer, hundreds of locals accompanied by a huge contingent of PAC had entered Maliana with guns and swords. All five entry points of the locality were allegedly blocked, and the massacre followed.
Yakub Ali, a local, filed a case against 93 people on May 24 that year. Out of 93 accused, 23 died in the past 36 years of trial and 31 “could not be traced”.
A day before the Maliana carnage, 42 Muslims were allegedly rounded up by the PAC personnel in Hashimpura area of Meerut, taken to Upper Ganga canal at Muradnagar in Ghaziabad, shot and thrown into the water body.
A Delhi court had convicted 16 ex-PAC men in 2018.
However, over 36 years and 900 hearings later, Meerut’s additional district and sessions judge Lakhwinder Sood on March 31, acquitted all 39 accused in the Maliana massacre case.
“There were several reasons spelt out for the acquittal. First, the police had not conducted an identification parade of the accused. Secondly, the cops had allegedly put 93 random names from the voter list, including those who had died years prior to the carnage. Then, no weapon was recovered from the site,” additional district counsel Sachin Mohan had told reporters after the Meerut court verdict.
Ten witnesses, including the plaintiff, testified in the court, but the prosecution was not successful in proving the case against the accused on the basis of sufficient evidence, he added.