The Batla House encounter not only hit the headlines but also got political mileage to the Movie screen. This much-hyped encounter took place after a seven-member Delhi Police team led by Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma in the Special Cell of Delhi police, stumbled upon IM commander Atif Amin and his comrades in their rented address at L-18, Batla House in the morning of 19 September 2008.
The team had received information that a suspected person wanted in connection with the serial bomb blasts in Delhi was hiding in a flat in the Batla House area of Jamia Nagar. Police laid a trap and somehow reached four-storied and stormed the flat led by a heavy exchange of fire. Sharma received the first burst of fire from the terrorists holed up inside. After the ensuing exchange of fire two suspected terrorists, Atif Amin and Mohammad Sajid were killed, two other suspects Mohammad Saif and Zeeshan were arrested, while one escaped. Later on its learned that Mohammad Sajid was not killed and he surfaced in Syria as an ISIS recruiter.
This encounter led to the arrest of a number of local people, leading to widespread allegations and protests by political parties, civil society groups, and activists, especially teachers and students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University.
Numerous political organizations like Rashtriya Ulama Council brought a full train of protestors from Azamgarh to Jantar Mantar, Delhi demanding an independent Judicial Enquiry whereas the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) demanded a judicial inquiry into the encounter, in the Parliament.
Afterward, on the Delhi High Court’s directive on 21 May 2009, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in its 22 July report cleared the police of any violations of rights. Public speculation and debate however continued.
The encounter took place a week after five serial blasts on 13 September 2008 that hit Delhi in which at least 30 people were killed and over 100 injured. The killing of Atif Amin, who was the chief bomber of the Indian Mujahideen, had dealt a severe blow to the group, which earlier was blamed for terror attacks between 2007 and 2009, in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Surat and Faizabad, according to investigating agencies.
On the second anniversary of the encounter, a shooting took place at the gate of historic Jama Masjid, Delhi, in which two foreign tourists were injured, apart from that a car bomb with a failed timer was also found in the surrounding area. The police had filed the charge sheet against Shahzad, Ariz Khan Atif Ameen, and Mohammed Sajid on 28 April 2010, accusing them of killing Inspector Sharma.
On 15 February 2011, Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Kumar Kuhar framed charges against accused Shahzad Ahmed alias Pappu for the offences of murder (Section 302), attempt to murder (Section 307), section 333 (causing hurt to public servant), 353 (assault to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of his public functions) and 201 (disappearance of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code, besides section 27 of the Arms Act for his role in the ‘encounter’.
On 25 Jul 2013, the Saket sessions court in its judgment convicted one of the suspects, Shahzad Ahmad, for the murder of police inspector Mohan Chand Sharma and attempted murder of Head Constables Balwant Singh and Rajbir Singh. After the verdict, Shahzad’s defense counsel Satish Tamta accused that the court had proposed its own theory while arriving at the conclusion that Shahzad had escaped after shooting at police officers.
Finally, the court came to the conclusion after 70 witnesses, including six eyewitnesses of the raiding team of the Delhi police special cell. On 28 August 2013, Yasin Bhatkal, the Chief of Indian Mujahideen was arrested from India-Nepal Border. Yasin had allegedly fled the Batla House, minutes before the encounter took place. After the incident accusations were raised against the Police by various other politicians, media, and civil society outfits for carrying out an encounter.
Upon the plea filed by “Act Now for Harmony and Democracy”, the Delhi High Court on 21 May 2009 asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to enquire into the police version of the encounter and submit its report incomplete within two months. Subsequently, on 22 July, NHRC after its investigations, in a 30-page report submitted its report which gave a clean chit to Delhi Police in the case.
The investigation ruled out the conspiracy theory that it was “inter-departmental enmity” which might have led to the death of Inspector M C Sharma on the basis of post-mortem report that he had a gunshot wound on the “hypochondriac region of the abdomen”, which ruled out an attack from behind.
Sharma was a much-decorated police officer and had won seven gallantry medals including the President of India’s Medal in 2009. He was posthumously awarded India’s highest peacetime military decoration, the Ashoka Chakra on 26 January 2009. Shahzad’s sister said that her brother was falsely implicated, and vowed to fight for justice by appealing to the Supreme Court.
Finally, the court made the decision in favour of the Delhi police, and all the accused got convicted one by one.
Inputs from Various News Agencies