On the 13th of September 2008, the capital city was rocked by blasts. Five bombs went off within the span of 30 minutes all over Delhi and a few more were found unexploded. This incident set off a series of events in the city, the aftermath of which is still felt in today’s trying times. One of the most immediate reactions was the encounter at Batla House on the 19th of September 2008, which has been explored in Nikkhil Advani’s upcoming movie of the same name starring John Abraham.
The blasts in Delhi were said to be the handiwork of a terrorist group called Indian Mujahideen (IM) who took responsibility for their actions in an e-mail sent shortly after the bombs exploded. This group was also behind similar blasts that took place in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Bangalore. Naturally, the Delhi Police was under pressure to take action, which led them to the Batla House locality in Jamia Nagar, Delhi, where they had reports of the alleged terrorists in hiding. A few officers of the Special Cell of Delhi Police cordoned off the area, entered the housing facility, shot two men, and raided the residence. While two others were said to have escaped, the total death toll included the alleged terrorists as well as the encounter specialist Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma who succumbed to the wounds inflicted upon him by a gunshot. The subsequent raids by the police produced several documents, electronic devices, and an AK-47.
The Batla House encounter got a lot of heat in the days to follow as many activists, journalists and members of human rights organizations raised several questions regarding the official statement made by the Delhi Police. Many were doubtful about the whole operation, terming it as a ‘conspiracy’. The reports to follow only raised more questions about the veracity of the entire incident. While the police noted that the deceased terrorists were shot during their escape attempts, port-mortem records show several injuries to their bodies that may conclude that they were captured and tortured before being shot dead. The escape of the other two men has also been a topic of debate given that the police had cordoned off the locality and there was no other route for them to leave the area. But it was only until the 21st of May 2009 that the Delhi High Court ordered the National Human Rights Commission to probe an inquiry into Operation Batla House to prove its authenticity. Three months later, the investigation by NHRC ended, giving the Delhi Police a clean chit. This, however, did not end the matter as it was reported that the investigation was not properly carried out and some key witnesses were not even interviewed.
The Delhi Police faced a lot of flak in the years following the Batla House incident. Many more arrests made after the incident were said to be spurred as a result of communal hatred and injustice. On the other hand, the police have stood by their statement despite the discrepancies. Inspector MC Sharma was awarded the Ashoka Chakra posthumously in 2009. Nikkhil Advani’s movie is said to be a detailed look into operation, justifying the action taken by the police. John Abraham takes on the role of ACP Sanjeev Kumar Yadav who played a key role in the operation following his mentor’s death. He has to do right by his team and prove all allegations of a fake encounter false for the sake of his deceased senior and the country. Watch him talk about the film below:
Batla House is all set to blow up a storm in theatres on the 15th of August 2019. The film takes place over a decade after the incident but is likely to ruffle up feathers on India’s 73rd Independence Day. Additionally, Nora Fatehi is ready to set the screen on fire with her new dance number O Saki Saki. Batla House will be an intense and thrilling ride, which is not to be missed!