Kashmiri engineer in prison for 18 yrs; family says ‘will die in jail if the trial goes on at present pace’

Kashmiri engineer in prison for 18 yrs; family says ‘will die in jail if the trial goes on at present pace’

Izhar Nazir Ali
Srinagar: Farooq Ahmad Khan, an engineer from Anantnag district of Kashmir, who is in prison for nearly 18 years, is suffering from multiple ailments at the Jaipur Central Jail and “it seems he will die in jail if the trial goes on at the present pace,” his family said Thursday.
Khan, a mechanical engineer by training, was arrested on May 23, 1996 by the infamous Special Task Force of police. He was instantly shifted to Delhi’s Tihar Jail and was charged with triggering bomb blasts in Lajpat Nagar (New Delhi) and in Jaipur, a charge contested by his family.
“Farooq was not associated with the militancy,” his brother Ashiq Hussain told Kashmir Reader. “He was implicated in the bombings because our family has a long association with the freedom movement,” he said.
A resident of Anantnag’s Janglat Mandi, Khan had a degree in engineering from Madras University and higher studies from London. He had joined the Public Health Engineering department in 1991 and served as a junior engineer for five years before he was arrested.
Since his arrest, Khan has been lodged in different jails within and outside the state and was “subjected to inhuman treatment.”
Ashiq showed a letter written by his brother in jail about six years ago. Khan writes, “I am a human living in the ‘so-called’ world’s biggest democratic country. I am an engineering graduate and I was serving the Kashmir government. I joined its services in 1991 as a junior engineer. Now if you are thinking that at this point of time I will be promoted and will be living a healthy life with my loved ones, you are wrong…
“I am living the life of an unknown prisoner in jails for past 12 years. We all know that life imprisonment means a maximum of 14 years, which I’ve almost completed. But you will be shocked that I have not crossed my under trial period yet.
“Hail democracy! But this is not one, two or three, we are in hundreds. I have been accused of nothing…My Allah is witness. At the same time I got a chance to keenly monitor the sufferings of Kashmiris lodged in different Indian jails. This injustice has made me understand that India neither has understood us (Kashmiris) nor will understand us…”
A Delhi court acquitted him of the charges after 14 year trial. However, he is currently undergoing trial in the Jaipur bomb blast case.
“Farooq is suffering from multiple ailments at the Jaipur Central Jail, where he has been detained from the last four years. His blood pressure goes out of control. He is suffering from piles as well. He has also developed throat infection. He is not getting adequate treatment at the jail,” Ashiq said.
“No specialist doctor has been arranged by the officials for check up of my brother,” he said, adding that another prisoner Abdul Gani Goni was hospitalized after his condition worsened in the jail leading to protests by Kashmiri inmates.
Expressing displeasure over the pace of the case, Ashiq said that in last nine months, the case has not moved even by an inch, as the two out of five witnesses have not turned up before the court.
“The process is very slow,” Ashiq said. “It seems my brother will die in jail if the trial goes on with the present pace.”
He said he had filed an appeal before the Rajasthan Court requesting that the trial be held on day-to-day basis. However, the court directions, he said, have failed to provide any relief to the family.
“We had also moved a bail application. However, the prosecution objected to it, saying that the witnesses need to be examined first. The case is going nowhere,” he said.
Khan’s prolonged detention, his brother said, has also taken a toll on health of their aged mother. He said that his mother had collapsed during her last meeting with Khan in jail in November last year.