Time seems to have stood still for the people of Azamgarh. It was Ramzan month when the Batla House encounter of 2008 happened and today, as the small town 90km north of Varanasi waits to hear Thursday’s court judgment on the case, it is Ramzan once again.
Sanjarpur village is praying fervently. The village, 30 km from district headquarters, was the home of the two young men, Atif Amin and Sajid, who were killed in the encounter in New Delhi’s Batla house locality on September 19, 2008.
People have organised special all-night prayers in houses and mosques for the two local boys who died and all others who were arrested and alleged to be Indian Mujahideen bombers.
The scene is no different in Khalispur village, the home of Shahzad Ahmad, who faces trial for the killing of inspector Mohan Chand Sharma.
“If Shahzad Ahmad is acquitted, it means the encounter was fake. We have faith in the judiciary and we hope truth will prevail,” said Masiuddin Sanjiri, a villager.
Shahzad, currently in Ahmedabad jail, was arrested on February 4, 2009.
“It is a make-or-break moment for all of us. We are waiting for the court to rule that Batla House was not an encounter but the execution of innocent boys,” said Shadab Ahmad Mister, father of Mohammad Saif, who was also arrested.
“All of us here want this verdict to help us shed that terror capital tag,” says Iqbal Ahmad, a former faculty member of Shibli Degree College, Azamgarh.