This was surely a day to cheer for the Delhi Police as the long-awaited verdict in the Batla House ‘encounter’ case was read out by a Delhi court. The lone suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Shahzad Ahmad was finally convicted in the infamous 2008 shootout by a Delhi court for murdering police inspector Mohan Chand Sharma and assaulting other officers. “He (Shahzad) is held guilty of attempting to cause death of Head Constables Balwant Singh and Rajbir Singh and causing death of Inspector M C Sharma by firing on them,” said Additional Sessions Judge Rajender Kumar Shastri. In addition, the court found Shahzad guilty of murder, attempted murder, obstructing and assaulting public servants and seriously injuring the police officers to deter them from performing their duty. The court, however, acquitted him of the offence under section 174A IPC (failure to appear in specified time and place as required by a proclamation by court).
Giving his take on the event, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said the whole event was blown out of all proportion following a ‘propaganda’ and ‘disinformation campaign’. “It was very unique operation, unprecedented. It (the operation) is a matter of great pride for Delhi police…They (the policemen) managed to neutralise terrorists and in the bargain, one of them lost his life. Indeed, it was a unique experience,” Kumar added. He said the National Human Rights Commission had conducted an inquiry into the operation which had also confirmed it to be a genuine operation.
The much-publicized encounter had taken place at Flat no. L-18, Batla House in Jamia Nagar locality in New Delhi on September 19, 2008, a few days after serial blasts had killed 26 people and injured 133 others. The police had received a tip-off that that some suspected militants involved in the blasts were holed up in the building and had reached Batla House for an investigation. There was an exchange of gunfire; of the five flat occupants, Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid were killed during the encounter. A highly-decorated Delhi Police Inspector, Mohan Chand Sharma, was shot in the stomach and died of his injuries later.
Most of those arrested post-Batla House encounter was part of the IM’s Azamgarh module that had carried out terror attacks in Lucknow, Faizabad, Varanasi, Jaipur, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Delhi during 2007-08.
One would have thought that would be the end of the story, but for some Congress and Samajwadi Party politicians, out to prove their ‘secular’ credentials, this was a grave miscarriage of justice. Among the most vociferous of the lot is Digvijay Singh, who claims he believed that the encounter was phony. Talking to reporters in Indore soon after the verdict, the Congress general secretary said, “I will never apologise. I still maintain that encounter was fake.” Meanwhile, in his readiness to pander to the right side of the minorities’, union minister Salman Khurshid not only impugned the encounter but also claimed that Congress president Sonia Gandhi had cried on seeing the pictures of the gunfight. “I had shown the photographs to Sonia. She requested us to not to show her the images and started crying bitterly. She then asked me to tell all this to the Prime Minister,” he had said in an election meeting in Azamgarh.
Welcoming the verdict, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Delhi, said it is a big slap on the face of the Congress (Particularly Digvijay Singh) and other ‘secular’ forces who were batting for the terrorists since the beginning and putting questions on the integrity of brave police officers of the country. Shri Vinod Bansal, media advisor,VHP, said that the verdict has not only raised the morale of security forces of the country but also shamed the people who were indulging in brazen votebank politics. Praising slain inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, the VHP said the President must take strict action against those who bring shame to the memory of slain men in uniform.
Meanwhile, the row involving the signature of 65 MPs who allegedly sent a letter to President Barack Obama, requesting him to retain the ban on Narendra Modi’s visa took a curious turn when some MPs, including Sitaram Yechury, said they had never signed on the document and that their signatures have been forged. This incident shows the limits to which the Congress party can stoop to win over minority voters at the expense of making the nation a laughing stock of the global community. At another, deeper level it displays Congress’ insecurity over the Narendra Modi phenomenon, a charismatic leader-in-waiting, whose time is round the corner.