June 14, 2010 Cited in Media 0 Comments

Never visited Batla site, says NHRC

The National Human Rights Commission has conceded that it did not visit the site of the Batla House encounter even once during its 11- month long probe.

By Aman Sharma

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has conceded that it did not visit the site of the Batla House encounter even once during its 11-month long probe. The panel said it found the version of the Delhi Police sufficient to rule that the incident was not a fake encounter.

“The NHRC did not send its team for a probe to the spot.  This was because, to reach the conclusion, the various reports sent by the department concerned (Delhi Police) were found to be adequate and sufficient,” said a damning note from NHRC deputy registrar Sunil Arora.

He was responding to a right to information (RTI) plea filed by Jamia Millia Islamia University student Afroz Alam Sahil.

The NHRC could not provide the names of any persons or witnesses it had contacted during the probe, confirming it had not spoken to any such person. ” The NHRC first asks for a report from the department and if that report is found satisfactory, the probe is closed. If that report is found inadequate or incomplete, the NHRC can start its own probe,” the reply said.

This implied the NHRC never carried out its “own probe” into the encounter but depended solely on the Delhi Police version of the incident though the police were the suspects in the case.

The NHRC did not speak to the families of the two alleged terrorists, Atif Amin and Mohd Sajid, who died in the encounter, or to the family of inspector M. C. Sharma, who was also killed then.

The NHRC justified not contacting the complainant, families of the deceased or any witnesses on the sole plea that it was “satisfied” with the Delhi Police version of events.

The Delhi Police claimed that a police team led by Sharma fired at the occupants of Flat

number L-18, Batla House, in ” self-defence” after the occupants first opened fire at them.

According to the police, two of the flat’s occupants escaped in the cross- fire while two were killed and one was arrested.

The NHRC’s reply comes three months after Sahil’s RTI petition exposed the fiercely guarded post- mortem reports of Amin and Sajid, which drilled holes in the Delhi Police version of the encounter.

When asked by Sahil in his application if the NHRC took the help of a forensic expert to analyse the post- mortem reports, the panel evaded a direct answer.

Manisha Sethi of Jamia Teacher Solidarity Association said the NHRC’s admission of not even visiting the site of the Batla House encounter only strengthened the belief that the probe was biased.

“The NHRC inquiry was carried out in an inexplicably secret manner; even applications by residents of Azamgarh to depose before the commission were not acknowledged.

Any commission of inquiry into an issue as contentious as the Batla House encounter should at least keep a pretence of impartiality,” she said.

This article was first published on indiatoday.in, June 14, 2010.