The ruling Samajwadi Party’s continued silence on last week’s acquittal of 16 policemen, pointedly accused of the cold-blooded murder of 42 Muslims in Meerut in 1987 has intrigued all and sundry.
It was this massacre, notorious as Hashimpura killings that first propelled Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to the political spotlight of Uttar Pradesh, where he subsequently established himself as some kind of messiah of Muslims.
Mulayam, who then ,as a vociferous opposition leader in the Uttar Pradesh assembly repeatedly stalled the proceedings of the house on this issue, has not cared to even utter a word since March 21, when the trail court at Tiz Hazari, New Delhi chose to acquit each of the 16 accused for ‘want of evidence’.
The state government, headed by Mulayam’s son Akhilesh Yadav, has not even shown any inclination to challenge the verdict, which has been termed by many as a ‘miscarriage of justice’.
The Tiz Hazari court, to which the case was transferred by the country’s apex court 14 years ago, eventually set free each of the 16 provincial Armed Constabulary personnel, who had allegedly gunned down 42 Muslims picked up from the Hashimpura locality in Meerut during a bloody communal riot and dumped their bodies in the Hindon canal .
The sensational massacre, described as India’s worst custodial killing, shook the entire nation and prompted then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi to personally visit the site of the Hindon canal from which 42 bodies were fished out.
While some blame the Samajwadi Party’s silence on the widely-known lethargy of the Akhilesh government, speculation was rife among a wide cross-section of Muslims that the party was had chosen to look the other way essentially because quite a few of the 16 acquitted cops were Yadavs.
The caste fixation of the ruling party was already demonstrated in several ways including the oft-talked-about allegation that nearly 50 per cent of the state’s police stations were headed by the Yadavs.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board functionaries too wonder why the UP government was silent on the issue.
“We were expecting the Mulayam to rise to the occasion and speak out against the Tiz Hazari verdict that was a clear cut miscarriage of justice. But it has been a week since the judgement was pronounced and not a word has been uttered by anyone including Mulayam, who has always projected himself as the messiah of Muslims,” observed a senior AIMPLB official, who prefers not to be named.
The state’s additional advocate general Zafaryab Jilani, who is the AIMPLB legal adviser and also the convenor of Babri Masjid Action Committee, is however hopeful that the state government will make an appeal to the higher court.
“We have not read the judgement yet. Subsequently, the state law department would be consulted on the issue. That is the procedure,” Jilani said.
However, so far neither the state law department nor the home ministry have received any indication from the powers that be to move in that direction. On being asked, a top UP government official remarked, “You should give the government some time to act.”
But political analysts have reason to believe the party leadership had taken a conscious decision to sit pretty until there was much hue and cry on the issue and they were driven against the wall. Believing that the minority vote bank was well entrenched with them, the party has, of late, begun to pander to the Hindu gallery too.
And any aggressive posture to take up the cause of the minority could harm its goodwill with the majority vote in general and their all time favourite Yadavs in particular.