Want justice for Batla house accused, says Digvijay


    New Delhi, (IANS) Hours after Home Minister P. Chidambaram Thursday rejected Digvijay Singh’s demand for a fresh probe into the 2008 Batla House shootout saying there was “no scope” for it, the Congress general secretary reiterated his demand for justice for the accused and said speedy and fair trial for them is top priority.

    “We want justice for the 26 accused in the case. A speedy, free and fair trial for them is top priority as a judicial probe is not possible now,” Singh said responding to queries from reporters.

    Stating he “expected justice” for the accused from the ongoing National Investigation Agency probe into the shootout, Singh added that he respected Delhi Police Inspector M.C. Sharma, who was killed in the incident.

    Though both Chidambaram and Singh have stated their positions on the issue in the past, the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh in February has given a new twist to the controversy.

    Earlier in the day, Chidambaram rejected Singh’s claim that the September 2008 Batla House gun battle in Delhi with suspected terrorists was fake and said there was “no scope for re-opening the matter”.

    “After looking into the matter, after I took over as home minister, we came to the conclusion that the encounter was a genuine one… there is no scope for reopening the matter,” Chidambaram said during a briefing of the Group of Ministers (GOM) on media here.

    Chidambaram’s statement came a day after Singh repeated his view that the shootout may have been fake.

    “The prime minister and home minister were of the view that the encounter was true. That’s why I did not not press it (the demand for a new probe into the gunfight) further,” Singh told media persons before an election rally addressed by Rahul Gandhi at Azamgarh Wednesday.

    In the Sep 19, 2008, Batla House shootout in Delhi, two alleged Indian Mujahideen members, and one police officer were killed. Certain local groups and some political parties alleged it was a staged shootout.

    The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused Singh of playing “dirty politics” and “appeasing the minority for a few votes” and sought a clarification from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

    “Digvijay Singh says Batla House encounter was fake… it is an insult to the martyrs,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said here.