The first chapter of the controversial Batla House encounter, has now, hopefully, been closed. On Thursday, a Delhi court ruled that the 2008 encounter was genuine and convicted suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Shahzad Ahmed of murder and other offences in the case.
The ruling will come as a relief to the Delhi Police, which was battling charges that the encounter was staged. The shootout between the special cell team of the Delhi Police and the alleged IM terrorists took place six days after serial blasts hit New Delhi on September 13, 2008, leaving 30 dead and over 100 injured. The order on the quantum of sentence will be delivered on July 29.
The ruling will come as a closure for the family of Delhi Police inspector MC Sharma, who was killed in the encounter. Activists had alleged that it was fake and Sharma was killed due to inter-departmental rivalry.
Seven officers of the city police team including Sharma had stormed an apartment in Batla House in Jamia Nagar and shot dead two suspected terrorists. Shahzad was arrested and one person managed to flee.
Questions were also raised as one of the alleged suspects was shot several times at close range. During the hearing of the case, the judge had also questioned why Sharma was not wearing a bullet-proof vest while facing men believed to be terrorists.
The counsel for the accused had argued that the bullets found in Sharma's body did not match the weapon that was recovered from Shahzad and argued that none of the witnesses had given any description of the occupants of the flat where the encounter took place. In 2009, however, the National Human Rights Commission said the police had not violated any rights.
As happens with such cases, political parties fought with each other for mileage. Some time ago, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had alleged that the encounter was fake, even though the government had honoured Sharma. The Congress had distanced itself from the comment.
The BJP has asked Mr Singh to apologise. Now that the court has clearly ruled on the genuineness of the encounter, this kind of adverse political one-upmanship must stop.