India court sentences 16 police to life for killing 42 Muslims

Hindu fanatics are seen demolishing the Babri Mosque in 1992, five years after clashes with Muslims in which 350 people died. On Oct.31, 2018, an Indian court sentenced 16 police officers to life imprisonment massacring dozens of unarmed Muslims during the 1987 riots in the country’s north. (Video grab from an HTV video via YouTube)
Updated 01 November 2018

India court sentences 16 police to life for killing 42 Muslims

  • The officers were found guilty of shooting 42 men and tossing their bodies into canals DURING violent clashes between Muslims and Hindus in 1987
  • Months of rioting over the Babri Mosque, where Hindus believe a temple was once built to Lord Ram, left an estimated 350 dead in 1987

NEW DELHI: : An Indian court Wednesday sentenced 16 police officers to life imprisonment for rounding up and massacring dozens of unarmed Muslims during historic riots in the country’s north decades ago.
The officers were found guilty of shooting 42 men and tossing their bodies into canals, in one of the bloodiest moments of violent clashes between Muslims and Hindus in 1987.
A lower court had acquitted the officers from a special branch of Uttar Pradesh’s police force in 2015 for a lack of evidence.
But a two-judge bench of the Delhi High Court overturned that decision, saying they conducted a “targeted killing of unarmed and defenseless people.”
The court found them guilty of criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, murder and the destruction of evidence, the Press Trust of India reported.
Grisly photographs submitted as evidence to the court showed lines of Muslim men kneeling at gunpoint as uniformed police stood guard, rifles at the ready in what came to be known as the “Hashimpura massacre.”
The policemen, all of whom have retired, have been asked to surrender to authorities before November 22.
Uttar Pradesh has a long history of violence between its majority Hindu population and a sizeable Muslim minority.
The Hashimpura massacre was one of the deadliest incidents in a long-running feud over a religious site in Ayodhya considered sacred by Muslims and Hindus.
Months of rioting over the Babri Mosque, where Hindus believe a temple was once built to Lord Ram, left an estimated 350 dead in 1987.
In 1992, the centuries-old mosque was razed by Hindu nationalists, sparking further violence that killed more than 2,000.
The murder of Hindu pilgrims returning by train from Ayodhya in 2002 triggered revenge attacks on Muslims in Gujarat state that left more than 700 dead by government estimates.
Hindu groups have lobbied India’s top court to consider their claim to build a temple on the site, but the case been adjourned until January.


Beijing says holding UK’s Hong Kong consulate employee

Updated 3 min 30 sec ago

Beijing says holding UK’s Hong Kong consulate employee

  • Simon Cheng went missing on Aug. 8 after sending his girlfriend a text message
  • Cheng is accused of violating the Public Security Administration Punishments Law

BEIJING: An employee of Britain’s consulate in Hong Kong who went missing earlier this month is being held in China, Beijing confirmed Wednesday.
The incident comes as relations between Britain and China have become strained over what Beijing calls London’s “interference” in pro-democracy protests that have wracked Hong Kong for three months.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing the detained man had been “placed in administrative detention for 15 days as punishment” by Shenzhen police for breaking a public security law.
Geng said the employee was from Hong Kong and therefore the issue was an internal matter.
“Let me clarify, this employee is a Hong Kong citizen, he’s not a UK citizen, which is also saying he’s a Chinese person,” Geng said.
The man, named by his family as Simon Cheng, traveled to Shenzhen, a megacity on the China-Hong Kong border, for a one-day business meeting on August 8.
That night, Cheng returned via high-speed train and sent messages to his girlfriend as he was about to go through customs.
“We lost contact with him since then,” the family said in a Facebook post.
Geng said the employee had violated the Public Security Administration Punishments Law — a law with broad scope aimed at “maintaining public order in society” and “safeguarding public security,” as well as making sure police and security forces act within the law.
The ongoing protests have raised fears of a Chinese crackdown in some form.
The unrest was initially triggered by a controversial law that would allow extradition to the mainland, but has since broadened into a call for wider democratic reforms.
Beijing has repeatedly warned Britain — the former colonial ruler of Hong Kong — against any “interference” in the protests, which erupted 11 weeks ago and have seen millions of people hit the streets calling for democratic reforms.
“Recently the UK has made many erroneous remarks about Hong Kong,” Geng said at the press briefing Wednesday.
“We once again urge the British side to stop gesticulating and fanning flames on the Hong Kong issue.”
With Beijing attempting to shape the narrative of the unrest in Hong Kong, Chinese authorities have increased their inspections at the Shenzhen border, including checking the phones and devices of some passengers for photos of the protests.
The mainland metropolis of Shenzhen sits behind China’s “Great Firewall” --which restricts access to news and information — while Hong Kong enjoys liberties unseen on the mainland.
China promised to respect the freedoms in the semi-autonomous territory after its handover from Britain in 1997, including freedom of speech, unfettered access to the Internet and an independent judiciary.
Beijing also faced criticism in the past for detaining foreign nationals amid ongoing diplomatic spats.
Ottawa has urged Beijing to release two Canadian citizens detained in December amid escalating diplomatic tensions between the two countries.
Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained amid a diplomatic crisis sparked by the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer for Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver on a US extradition bid.
Former diplomat Kovrig and consultant Spavor were picked up in China on suspicion of espionage days after her arrest, in a move widely seen as retaliation.
Friends of the missing employee staged a protest outside the British Consulate in Hong Kong on Wednesday afternoon to pressure the UK government to “save Simon.”
“Hong Kong people are still fighting to oppose the extradition bill, yet something like this happened without such a bill,” organizer Max Chung told AFP.
“If the Beijing government doesn’t explain to the public why this happened, then it is playing with fire. This is a warning to Hongkongers and to whoever wants to come to Hong Kong.”
Chung told the rally that “to our best understanding” his detained friend had not been involved with the ongoing protests that have engulfed the financial hub.
“Simon is a very good guy, and smart guy... I don’t think he would do anything stupid,” he added.