By Nusrat Sidiq
SRINAGAR: A long judicial ordeal has seen one person dead and another suspended from his job among nine persons booked for stone-pelting during the Amarnath land row in 2008. In a further blow to the morale of the undertrials, who are all residents of Rainawari in downtown Srinagar, a fire in the lower court premises in 2014, when the final arguments of their cases had been made, put their fate into a limbo from which there is as yet no sign of escape.
In 2008 during a procession at Rainawari Chowk, these nine persons were arrested on charges of stone-pelting and were kept in police custody at Rainawari police station for a month. Three years later, in 2011, a challan was produced in a lower court in Srinagar against Hilal Ahmed Dar, Mehraj-ud-Bhat, Bilal Ahmed Qadoosi, Farooq Ahmed, Bilal Ahmed Bhat, Mohammad Salim Khoosa, Afaq Ahmed Baba, Fayaz Ahmed Nadaf, and Adil Ahmed, all residents of Rainawari.
Since then, the nine Rainawari residents became embroiled in a frustrating legal battle. On January 25 this year, Fayaz Ahmed Nadaf suffered a cardiac arrest. Nadaf, who was aged 42, was in the lower court for the case hearing a day before his death.
Nadaf was unmarried and had in his family three elder brothers and an ailing mother. He was a driver by profession. According to the family, Nadaf was falsely implicated in a stone-pelting case during 2008, after which he spent his life mostly at police stations and courts.
“The long trial and undue custody made him weak and fragile, which ultimately led to his death,” said his brother Mushtaq Ahmed Nadaf.
Another of the accused, Hilal Ahmed Dar, was suspended from his government job at the Power Development Department in 2011. Since then he has only received 50 percent of his salary. While narrating his ordeal, Dar said, “For nine years I have been suffering. I am unable to understand why they are delaying this case. At lower court they say go to the higher court, and at the higher court they say go back to the lower court. From 2011 we all have been coming and going to the courts but no one bothers about us. No one understands our misery.”
Dar, who was a bill collector at the PDD department, rued, “I was unable to pay the tuition fees for my son who is studying in Class 12. I don’t have any other means of income. I am solely dependent on the salary that I receive from the department.”
An advocate who is representing the cases of some of these accused said, “The court is not reconstructing their case. They have been coming here for the past six or seven years but they are yet to hear judgement in their case. I would say that the delay in justice amounts to injustice.”