Batla House shootout: key points of judgment
A Delhi court on Thursday convicted Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Shahzad Ahmad, the lone accused in the 2008 Batla House shootout in New Delhi, for killing a police inspector and attacking other officers.
Nearly five years after the shootout, additional sessions judge (ASJ) Rajender Kumar Shastri convicted Ahmad, 24, from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, of killing Delhi Police special cell inspector MC Sharma.
The court also found Ahmad guilty of attempt to murder, obstructing public servants from doing their duty, causing disappearance of evidence, voluntarily causing grievous hurt to public servants, criminal conspiracy and violating provisions of the Arms Act.
Sharma, who was leading the team in the raid at flat L-18 in Batla House neighbourhood in south Delhi to catch the alleged terrorists, was killed by Ahmad in the shootout. Sharma was not wearing bullet-proof jacket during the operation.
The court, during the arguments, questioned the prosecution on why Sharma was not wearing a bullet-proof jacket when he knew that he was leading the team to catch terror suspects and why two police officers were not carrying arms.
The court in its order said, "It agitates my mind that the incident in question was not a sudden confrontation between police and the assailants."
"Police had already information, receiving which a raiding party was formed well in advance. Despite all this, inspector MC Sharma did not wear any body protection device i.e. bullet-proof jacket. Moreover, at least two members of the raiding party were having no weapon with them, despite knowing the fact that they may face firing."
"It is not clear whether it was merely a misadventure or lack of professionalism in Delhi Police or scarcity of weapons," the judge said.
The court, however, said that if policemen did not wear bullet-proof jacket or carry arms, it did not give any licence to the accused to fire at them.
The court acquitted Ahmad of charges of not appearing before police or court despite a proclamation, saying the prosecution failed to prove that any such process was initiated.
Ahmad was present in the second floor flat in the four-storey building in Batla House in Jamia Nagar area when the shootout took place, police said.
The September 19, 2008, exchange of fire took place between a seven-member Delhi Police Special Cell team, led by Sharma, and suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists, allegedly involved in the Sep 13, 2008, serial blasts in Delhi.
The police team's attempts to storm the flat on the second floor around 10.30am resulted in exchange of fire. Sharma was hit and subsequently died.
Two suspected terrorists - Atif Amin and Mohammad Sajid - were killed, Mohommad Saif was apprehended, while Ahmad along with suspect Junaid managed to escape.
Saif was not made an accused in this case as according to the prosecution, he surrendered peacefully and did not play any part in the incident. Junaid was declared a proclaimed offender.
Ahmad was arrested Jan 1, 2010 from Azamgarh. Police filed the charge sheet against him April 28, 2010.
The prosecution examined around 70 witnesses, including six eye-witnesses who were part of the police raid team.