It has been thirty-five years since 72 Muslims were brutally killed in the small town of Maliana, in Uttar Pradesh, during communal violence in Meerut district. Their families still await even the first glimmer of justice. The Maliana case, pending in a local court, stands as a blot on our criminal-justice system.
Tensions had been high in Maliana due to the riots in Meerut that followed protests against the unlocking of the Babri Masjid, in Ayodhya, for Hindu worship. However, residents of Maliana described the violence in the town as the targetted killing of Muslims by state forces. A day earlier, at least 42 Muslim men had been killed in Hashimpura, a neighbourhood in Meerut.
The testimonies of survivors and eyewitnesses detail the horror of what transpired in Maliana. It is appalling that there has not been a single conviction for these murders. I spoke to survivors who recounted how, on 23 May 1987, members of the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary surrounded the town from all sides and shot at Muslim men, women and children. The PAC’s firing also provided cover for Hindu mobs that looted and burnt Muslim homes.