“We did not compromise. It was a murder,” said Pushpa, sister of Ashok, who was gunned down in a fake encounter in 1996.
“After my brother was shot dead in the encounter, my father pursued the case in Dehradun but he died from a heart stroke in 2008. Then my aged mother took up the case and has pursued it till date. We had to sell our house and cattle to get money but we did not give up. The policemen visited us and told us to reach a compromise but we did not,” Pushpa said.
Ashok, along with three other youths from Vijay Nagar locality in Modi Nagar, had gone to Pilkhuwa to find a job in a carpet making unit on November 8, 1996. It was the day of Dhanteras festival, before Diwali. However, they were gunned down in an encounter at Machli Bazar. Their bodies were not returned to the families either.
All the victims had bullet injuries to their chest while Jalauddin, Ashok and Pravesh also had bullet injuries on their head, just above the ear.
“Surat bhi nahi mili dekhne ko (I could not even get a last glimpse of my son). He worked at a nearby factory on daily wages and had gone out in search of another job. We searched a lot but could not find him. Since he left us, I have not been keeping well and have also lost sight in one eye. The other eye is also affected and I can hardly see. I had to sell my cattle to pursue the case,” 70-year-old Sharifan, Jalaluddin’s mother, said.
Mahender Singh’s son Pravesh had also gone to Pilkhuwa while his parents were away to attend the last rituals of a relative. “It was Dhanteras. He had enrolled in class 9 and also worked a daily job with his brother at a nearby factory. We went in search of him, to at least find his body, but the police did not show us even the body. They cremated all four, terming them unclaimed. Later, the police approached us for a compromise but we refused,” 75-year-old Mahender, Pravesh’s father, said.
The families said that they also protested outside the Prime Minister’s residence in Delhi and got an assurance of Rs 1 lakh each.
“These were just promises. However, the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) helped us a lot. We relied on their counsel to get justice. The case was in a Dehradun court but it was later transferred to Ghaziabad. All families pursued the case and did not miss any hearing,” he said.
Of the four victims, only Jasbir, 23, was married. After the encounter on November 8, 1996, the police filed a final report and gave a clean chit to the personnel involved. The CBI took up the case on April 7, 1997, and named five police personnel in their chargesheet on September 10, 2001. The charges were framed in June 2005.
On the day of the incident, the policemen involved had told their senior officials that two criminals had escaped into the sugarcane fields, following which they were ordered to open fire.
“After few minutes, the police shouted that two more ‘badmash’ (goons) have been killed. Thereafter, Lal Singh came to the police station and filed a false written complaint against the deceased,” the chargesheet stated.
Then station house officer Lal Singh, sub-inspector Joginder Singh and constables Surya Bhan, Subhash Chand and Ranbir Singh were charged under section 193 (giving false evidence) of IPC apart from sections of murder and destruction of evidence.
“The section (193 of IPC) was levied as they had collected affidavits from locals to support their evidence in the encounter case. However, the people told the court that they were made to sign blank papers by the police and said that they did not sign any affidavit,” Rajan Dahiya, the public prosecutor for the CBI, said.