New Delhi: Survivors and families of the 42 Muslim men massacred in 1987 at Hashimpura in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday voiced anguish after a court freed all the accused, calling it a "massacre of justice".
On March 21, a Delhi court acquitted 16 Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel of the charges of murder, attempt to murder and more over lack of evidence.
"This decision is like a massacre of justice. We are against such a verdict where all the accused are acquitted after 28 years. We cannot accept it and will move the higher court for justice," said Zulfiqar Nasir, one of the five men who miraculously survived the massacre.
Nasir and others spoke at a panel discussion on "Justice for Hashimpura" where they expressed unhappiness over the judgement and narrated their anguish.
"As many as 42 people never returned. They were killed by the PAC and thrown into the canal. My brother Kamaruddien, who was 21 then, was among the 42," said an emotional Riyajuddin.
Narrating his tale of woe, Nasir, who still lives in Hashimpura locality in Meerut, recalled how lucky he was to survive.
"I was in Class 10 then and at home when the army ordered us to open the doors. They then went to the rooftop and rounded up people on the roads," he said.
"After that they shortlisted the healthy and young men from among women, children and the elderly. We were then handed over to the PAC."
The PAC took them in a truck to a canal at Muradnagar.
"They shot a man, Yasin, and threw him into the canal. They did this to everyone in the truck. I was lucky to survive even after a gunshot hit me below my right armpit," he said.
Nasir managed to reach a 'dhaba' and got help.
Another survivor, Babudeen, said they suffered for no fault of theirs and still justice had been denied to them.
"We want justice. How can a court let the criminals go scot free citing lack of evidence? People were killed... Evidence is there but it has been overlooked," added a tearful Mohammad Naeem, another survivor.
The victims' lawyer, Vrinda Grover, said: "At each stage a fair, rigorous and impartial investigation was systematically thwarted. The material pieces of evidence were either not collected or destroyed."
According to Rajinder Sachar, the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties conducted an inquiry but the government didn't take it seriously.
"The report was submitted to then Uttar Pradesh chief minister but it was not acknowledged," said Sachar, adding the victims should appeal to the higher court for justice.
"Human right violation has certainly taken place. The victims and their family members should be given compensation," he added.