Opinion: Remembering ‘Secular’ India’s Most Horrific Custodial Killing In Hashimpura

“I wish the dead could have eyes for once, they could look into the Indian State with tears and anger and say that irrespective of any political party at the government, you have been inherently Islamophobic.”

It was the 22nd of May 1987, Ramzan and Friday, just like today, when ‘secular’ India’s most shameful and horrendous custodial killing took place at Hashimpura. That day, after the Friday prayers, in the midst of the ongoing Meerut riots, some 600-700 Muslims were dragged from their homes by Army personnel, CRPF, PAC, and police and were made to sit on the footpath near Gulmarg Talkies.

Photo: Praveen Jain. Taken from Indian Express.
Photo: Praveen Jain. Taken from here.

The young and the strong among them were chosen, loaded in a PAC truck URU 1493, and taken to Upper Ganga Canal in Murad Nagar and later to Makanpur in Ghaziabad only to be shot cold-blooded and thrown into the canal.

This was totally an Islamophobic crime by the State, though the documented facts are known to everyone, 3 points are worth mentioning:

1. On May 23, 1987, at Meerut Circuit House, the next day after the killings, there was a meeting attended by Veer Bahadur Singh, the Chief Minister, Daya Shankar Bhatnagar, the DGP, SK Mukherjee, the IG, Nasim Zaidi, the DM of Ghaziabad, Vibhuti Narain, the SP of Ghaziabad and other senior police officials. There were discussions that can the bodies of 42 be thrown away in the canal just like Maliyana, never to be found? Could the 3 survivors under police protection also die? Would anyone expect justice from them?

2. One of the survivors Zulfiqar Nasir had a press conference in Delhi with Syed Shahabuddin and Subramanyam Swami, narrating the nightmare he went through. There was a shameless press brief the next day addressed by Meerut DM RS Kaushik, SSP Girdhari Lal Sharma, and former S P VKB Nair. Not only did they claim that no massacre happened at Hashimpura but also that no one with the name of Zulfiqar ever lived in Hashimpura. Shouldn’t they have been punished too for propagating blatant lies?

3) There were three ‘Sarkari Musalmans’ sitting at the vital position throughout the investigation. Just to show the Indianness in them, they did very little to ensure Justice. Syed Khalid Rizvi, who headed the CID failed to link the role of Major Satish Kaushik whose brother, Prabhat Kumar, an RSS goon, was killed the previous day; who was present at Hashimpura during the whole incident.

Mr Nasim Zaidi who later became chief Election commissioner failed to act responsibly and tell the outside world about the heinous crimes. And Ms Mohsina Kidwai, the then MP of Meerut who later became the General Secretary of AICC, not only refused to ensure medical care to one of the injured survivors but kept silent about the gory crimes.

Hashimpura, like the Bihar killings of 1946Nellie of 1983, Bhagalpur of 1989, Delhi Pogrom of 1984 and 2020Muzaffarnagar of 2013Gujarat pogrom of 2002, and numerous others remain a disgraceful instance of the merciless and barbaric use of brute state force and a spineless, politically expedient government lying prostate before its own men – The Killers.

Hashimpura is not just an instance, it’s a phenomenon that goes deep into the mindset of Indian society.

Justice is awaited.

Source: Literature, Hashimpura 22 May by Vibhuti Narain Rai.

Aasif Mujtaba is a research scholar of IIT Delhi and an independent journalist based in New Delhi. He tweets at @MujtabaAasif

All photos: Praveen Jain

The article was published in the Youth Ki Awaaz

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