A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Wednesday sentenced four Uttar Pradesh cops including a Station House Officer to life imprisonment in the Ghaziabad fake encounter case. The four - inspector of Bhojpur police station, a sub inspector and two constables - were convicted for gunning down four daily wagers in an encounter in Bhojpur in November 1996.
The four cops were held guilty of murder, destruction of evidence and giving false evidence on February 20.
During the alleged encounter, four youngsters - Jalaluddin, Jasbir, Ashok and Pravesh - were gunned down by cops, terming them as criminals, on the afternoon of November 8, 1996 - the day of Dhanteras festival.
All four victims hailed from Vijay Nagar in Modi Nagar town and were daily wagers. They were from poor families and had gone to Pilkhuwa in search of daily wage job. They were sitting at a tea stall outside the Bhojpur police station when they were picked up by the cops inside the police station where they were tortured before being killed.
Forensic investigations nailed the lies of the cops.
After the investigation and trial which lasted more than two decades, CBI’s Special Judge (anti corruption) Rajesh Chaudhary had on Monday held then station house officer Lal Singh, sub inspector Joginder Singh and two constables Surya Bhan and Subhash Chand as guilty for murder. The fifth accused Ranbir Singh died during the course of the trial.
Initially, the Hapur Police investigated this case, but it gave a clean chit to the ‘encounter’ team.
The convicted cops initially maintained that they were travelling in their jeep along with several accused of a different case, but the four men opened fire at the police party near Machli Bazar, popularly known as ‘Macheri ki puliya’ in Bhojpur.
The convicts maintained that two of the four were shot in retaliatory fire by police while other two went into hiding in nearby sugarcane field and killed in police firing when more police force and senior officers arrived for help from Bhojpur, Modi Nagar, Niwari and Murad Nagar police station areas.
However, the CBI took over investigation on April 7, 1997 and revealed that two victims, Jasbir and Jalaluddin were killed by Lal Singh and his colleagues on road while two others, Ashok and Pravesh, were killed in sugarcane fields even before the senior officers and police reinforcements could arrive.
During the fake encounter, the cops used revolvers, pistols, rifles, stengun, carbines and AK-47s to open fire. The post mortem examination by Dr SC Aggarwal revealed that Jasbir sustained two bullets while Jalaluddin sustained five shots. The other two, Ashok and Pravesh, died after sustaining two and five bullet injuries, respectively.
Interestingly, the CBI investigation also found that a bullet recovered from the body of victim Jasbir was allegedly fired from the official revolver of then IPS officer Jyoti Belur.
It is not yet clear whether she had the possession of the weapon or not.
Belur, who was posted as the Circle officer in the rank of assistant superintendent of police, was never charge sheeted by the CBI, but was summoned as an accused by the court on September 9, 2007.
Belur is said be to living in United Kingdom and has failed to make a personal appearance in the case so far. Her petitions against the court’s summon orders were rejected by the Allahabad high court and the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, the case trial has been an ordeal for the poor families of the victims, who battled all odds and did not give up despite pressure from police to withdraw the case and lack of finances.
“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, sister of deceased Ashok.