Disclose the Sonia Vihar ‘Encounter’ Enquiry Report, NOW, urge Citizens to LG

The following is the full text of the petition submitted to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, demanding the public disclosure of the magisterial enquiry report (MER) investigating the encounter killing of five people by the Special Cell in Sonia Vihar (Delhi) in 2006. The MER was submitted in 2012. The most recent killing of one Fauzi by the Special Cell in the same Sonia Vihar area has re-opened the questions that were raised earlier. Scores of citizens wrote to the LG asking that the MER be made public immediately.

To,

Shri Najeeb Jung,

Lieutenant Governor,
Delhi.

Sir,

Rule of Law requires that policemen who engage in killing prove that they fired in self defence; that the force they used was necessary and proportional to the threat they faced. This can only be proved in a court of law or in a free and fair enquiry. What we have instead is repeated allusion to the antecedents of those killed, as if that is enough to settle the question of whether the encounter was genuine or fake.

A Protest in Delhi against 'Encounters' Photo: Shakeb Ahmed
A Protest in Delhi against ‘Encounters’ Photo: Shakeb Ahmed

The recent encounter killing of Firoz alias Fauzi by the Delhi Police allegedly on 19 August 2014 (Tuesday) on Pushta Road has once again drawn attention towards the practice of extra judicial killings by the Delhi Police. Through the 1990s and the following decades, Delhi Police, especially its Special Cell earned notoriety for encounters. The encounter killing of two businessmen in Connaught Place in 1997; Ansal Plaza (2002), Millennium Park (2003), Uttam Nagar (2005), Swarna Jayanti Park (2006), Sonia Vihar (2006) … the list is long. Magisterial enquiries, as mandated by the NHRC guidelines, however have been few and far between; Departmental enquiries nil. From the data we have gathered through RTI applications, it appears clearly that the Special Cell has enjoyed a reign of impunity, protected from any prosecution – on the contrary receiving awards and medals for their so-called gallantry.

In the few cases that magisterial enquiry has been ordered, the reports are suppressed and forgotten. A case in point is the magisterial probe conducted into an encounter at Sonia Vihar of 2006. The probe was ordered six years later in 2012 after the National Human Rights Commission found the encounter to be fake. The enquiry conducted by the then Divisional Commissioner, Revenue Department (Govt. of NCT, Delhi) had recommended a CBI probe into the encounter killing.

Last year, JTSA had filed several RTI applications seeking a copy of the magisterial probe. While a copy was denied to us on the flimsy pretext that it would endanger the lives of those who had testified in the enquiry, we have received the minutes of the meetings held at NHRC in connection with this magisterial probe.

Following are the excerpts from the minutes:
19th April 2012: The enquiry officer informed the Commission that the delay in submitting the report was on account of “difficulties in getting assistance from the Police”.

26th September 2012: The minutes clearly state that “the Magistrate recommends that a CBI enquiry be conducted. The Commission accepts this recommendation and asks the CBI to urgently conduct an enquiry into this incident.” The Commission further asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to “issue appropriate directions to the CBI” and expected “the Government of NCT of Delhi to give its consent to this enquiry, so that it can be held urgently.”

20th December 2012: The Commission notes with regret the extension of time sought by the government of NCT of Delhi. The Commission agreed to this request “reluctantly” urging that “this matter, involving the deaths of five men, and on which serious charges have been made against the police, has been pending from May 2006, and must be brought to a resolution.”

Since then, there is no news of whether the CBI probe has been granted and initiated. The near re-enactment of the 2006 encounter in 2014 – the same site and the same Cell – makes it all the more urgent that the findings of the magisterial probe into the 2006 encounter killing be made public, and the CBI probe ordered at the earliest.

We the undersigned write to you with the hope that you will break with the prevailing culture of impunity, which protects policemen, and instead ensure accountability. The first step towards this would be to release the enquiry report and to act upon it.

Sincerely,

Harsh Mander (Activist, Delhi)
Sabeena Gadihoke (Academic, JMI)
Prof. Shohini Ghosh (Academic, JMI)
Aruna Roy, MKSS
Nikhil De, MKSS
Jean Dreze, Academic, Delhi
Githa Hariharan (writer, Delhi)
Prof. Nirmalangshu Mukherjee (Academic, DU)
Mayur Suresh (lawyer and Doctoral candidate, UK)
Mukul Kesavan (Writer and academic, JMI)
Prof. Mohan Rao (Academic, JNU)
Warisha Farasat (Lawyer, Delhi)
Shabnam Hashmi (Activist, Delhi)
Ashok Agrwal (Lawyer, Delhi)
Prof. Irfan Habib (Retd. AMU)
Prof. Shireen Moosvi (AMU)
Yousuf Syed (Writer, filmmaker and artist)
Ovais Sultan Khan (Activist, Delhi)
Kiran Bhatty (Academic, Delhi)
Yug Mohit Chaudhry (Lawyer, Mumbai)
Dhruv Sangari (Sufi musician, Delhi)
Bhavna Sharma (Activist, Delhi)
Kumar Sundaram (Anti-nuke activist, Delhi)
Trideep Pais (lawyer, Delhi)
Mukul Dube (Writer, Delhi)
Dr. Malem Ningthouja, Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Manipur
Geetha Joseph
Dr. Karen Gabriel, Academic, DU
Sukumar Muralidharan (journalist, Delhi)
Prof. Harbans Mukhia (Academic, JNU [Retd.])
Satya Sivaraman (Filmmaker and activist, Chennai)
Gautam Navlakha, Activist and writer, Delhi
Prof. Nandini Sundar, University of Delhi.
Prof. Madhavi Menon, Ashoka University, Delhi.
Dr. Neeraj Malik, University of Delhi.
Dr. Javed Malick, University of Delhi.
Dr. Yasser Arafat, University of Delhi.
Dr. Rochelle Pinto, CSDS, New Delhi.
Dr. Saroj Giri, University of Delhi.
Subhash Gatade (Activist, New Socialist Initiative)
Saba Dewan (Filmmaker, Delhi)
Rahul Roy (Filmmaker, Delhi)
Samina Mishra (Filmmaker, Delhi)
Jenny Rowena (Academic, DU)
Gautam Bhan (Writer, Delhi)
Nivedita Menon (Academic, JNU)
Nandita Narain, President, DUTA
Rina Ramdev, Academic, DU
Mausumi Bose, Academic, DU
Rohith P, Academic, DU
Siddharth Sharma, lawyer, Delhi
Asad Zaidi, Publisher and Poet, Delhi
Kamayani Mahabal (activist and lawyer, Mumbai)
Nandini Rao (Feminist Activist, Delhi)
Jaya Sharma (Activist, Delhi)
Shipra Nigam (Economist, Delhi)
Lesley Esteves (Journalist and Queer rights activist, Delhi)
Harsh Kapoor (Activist and writer, Delhi)
N.D. Pancholi (lawyer, Delhi)
Dilip Simeon (Historian and writer, Delhi)
Navaid Hamid (Gen. Secy, Peoples’ Integration Council)
Aarti Sethi (Academic, Columbia University, USA)
Dr. Hany Babu – Academic, Univ. of Delhi
Dr. Tripta Wahi – Academic, Univ. of Delhi
Prof. Harjeet S. Gill – Academic, JNU
Ahmad S. Ehtesham – Academic, AMU
Rahul Rao, Academic, SOAS, London
Namrata Ganneri – Academic, SNDT Women’s Univ.,Mumbai
Dr. Shadab Bano – Academic, AMU
Dr. Neshat Quaiser (Academic, JMI)
Mahalingam M.(Activist, Centre for Policy Analysis)
Dr. Manisha Sethi, Academic, JMI
Dr. Sanghamitra Misra, Academic, DU
Ahmed Sohaib, Academic, JMI
Adil Mehdi, Academic, JMI
Dr. Tanweer Fazal, Academic, JNU
Prof. Ghazi Shahnawaz, Academic, JMI
Ambarien Alqadr, Academic, JMI
Prof. M.S. Bhat , Academic, JMI
Mona Das, Academic, DU
Dr. Nabanipa Bhattacharya, Academic, DU
Dr. Rahul Govind, Academic, DU
Dr. Manoj Jena, Academic, JMI
Faizullah, Academic, TISS
Ghazala Jamil, Academic, Delhi
Mansi Sharma, Activist, Delhi

Organizational Endorsement: Anhad, Saheli, JTSA

Dated: 28th August 2014