BATLA HOUSE ENCOUNTER: CURRENT STATUS
WHAT IS BATLA HOUSE ENCOUNTER?
The encounter had taken place in September 2008 between the Delhi police’s Special Cell and Indian Mujahideen operatives at Batla House in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar just days after a serial blast had rocked the national capital, in which at least 26 people were killed and 133 injured. The operation resulted in the deaths of two terrorists and one police officer, Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma with the remaining terrorists arrested. On 15 March 2021, one of the arrested Ariz Khan alias Junaid, was sentenced to death for the murder of Inspector Sharma.
The incident took place a week after five serial blast on 13 september 2008 that hit Delhi in which at least 30 people were killed and over 100 injured. Upon reaching the four-storied house the police’s attempt to storm the flat on the second floor at around 10:30 AM led to 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 terrorists, Atif Amin and Mohammad Sajid were killed, two other Mohammad Saif and Zeeshan were arrested, while one managed to escape. Also two Delhi police personnel were injured, among which, Sharma who led the operation, later succumbed to the injuries. Later, the intelligence team said that the arrested had links with Dubai and further questioned if they had any link with Dawood Ibrahim.
The police, after completion of the investigation, had filed chargesheet against Mohd Atif Ameen and Mohd Sajid – both of them had died in the encounter – Ariz Khan and Shahzad Ahmad. No offence was made out against Mohd Saif, who was one of the occupants of the flat.
Shahzad was arrested in 2010 by ATS Lucknow and allegedly made a disclosure statement. He was arrested from the house of his grandfather in Azamgarh. He was convicted in 2013 by the Saket Court.
Shahzad Ahmed, another convict in this case, was arrested on January 1, 2010. In July 2013, Ahmed was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment and appealed against the verdict in the high court. The appeal, however, is still pending in the court.
Ariz Khan had been on the run for a decade before he was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell in 2018. Khan, according to the police, was arrested on the information of one Abdul Subhan Qureshi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts, from Uttarakhand. The court held that he was a “trained criminal” and not “an ordinary individual”. The police had earlier announced a reward of Rs 5 Lakh for information about him. He was also on the radar of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which had announced a reward of Rs 10 Lakh.
Ariz Khan told the court that he has nothing to say apart from what his counsel has argued. He also alleged that he has been falsely implicated in the case. The prosecution prayed for his death penalty. The case stirred a political storm, raised questions from rights activists on the actions of Special Cell officers, divided public opinion and became a raging controversial topic in the media that continues till date. The incident gained attention in political discourse because it was a matter involving national security and politicians used polarising language which made matters worse. The National Human Rights Commission which had conducted an inquiry in the case on the direction of the Delhi High Court, gave a clean chit to Delhi Police.
Delhi Court awarded death penalty to Ariz Khan for the murder of insoector Mohan Chand Sharma,who died during the encounter at Batla House in Delhiin 2008, the court termed this case as the “rarest of the rare case”. The court also imposed a total fine of Rs.11 lakh on Ariz Khan out of which Rs. 10L will be released as a compensation to the wife of deceased officer Mohan Chand Sharma.
On March 15 2021, Ariz Khan has moved the Delhi high court challenging his conviction and sentence. Khan has filed an appeal against the trial court verdict which said the offence fell under the “rarest of the rare category” warranting the maximum sentence and Ariz be “hanged by neck” till death.