Srinagar: Liyaqat Shah, who was cleared last week by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of the terror charges slapped on him by Delhi police nearly two years ago, said on Monday that his arrest has hit 1500 families who were planning to return home from Pakistan.
“Over 1500 families were planning to return to J&K after living in Azad Kashmir for many years. Some of them had completed the necessary paperwork. But after my arrest they are now scared to return,” 46-year-old Liyaqat told Kashmir Reader.
A resident of Dardpora village of Kupwara district, Liyaqat was arrested by the infamous Special Cell of Delhi police on March 22, 2013 near the Indo-Nepal border at Sanuali when he was returning to India under the rehabilitation policy announced by the J&K government in 2010.
The Delhi police had claimed that Liyaqat was chosen by the Hizbul Mujahideen to supervise young fidayeen recruits who would commit militant strikes in Delhi.
“Liyaqat was told that after the fidayeen strikes were executed, he should return to the Valley to settle down and to engage himself in talent spotting, that is, finding new recruits and facilitating their cross-border travel into PoK,” the Delhi police had said after his arrest.
“Liyaqat was also told that all logistical requirements for carrying out fidayeen attacks have already been infiltrated by other young fidayeen cadres through the J&K border and shall be made available at the place of stay in Delhi arranged for him.”
However, dismissing the charges, Liyaqat’s family had accused Delhi police of implicating him. The arrest of Liyaqat also led to confrontation between the J&K government and the Delhi police. The then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had requested government of India to conduct a probe into the claims of Delhi police by the NIA. Nearly two years after the incident, the NIA on Saturday last absolved Liyaqat of the charges, and also submitted a report to Home Ministry, seeking permission for carrying out probe against two Delhi police officials for allegedly “conspiring” to target him.
The NIA, however, named absconder Sabir Khan as the main accused who had allegedly planted weapons on Shah to project him as a militant of the Hizbul Mujahideen.
Before him, Liyaqat said, over two dozen families had returned to Valley via Nepal under the rehabilitation scheme. He said he was apprehensive if more Kashmiris will return home now.
“I don’t think more families will return unless concrete steps are taken about their safety. Government has to do more to make this rehabilitation scheme purposeful,” he said.
Demanding stern action against the Delhi police officials who framed him, Liyaqat said his family had to dispose of ancestral property to meet the expenses for the legal battle.
“My brother sold 10 kanals of paddy land for travelling and staying in New Delhi. Most of the money was spent in the legal battle. I have not only suffered mental agony but financial as well,” said Liyaqat, adding “Delhi police is manufacturing militants. They cannot go on victimzing Kashmiris time and again. They must be taught a lesson for treating every Kashmiri as a militant.”
Recalling the time he spent at the Special Cell, Liyaqat said he was brutally beaten up by the sleuths of the Delhi police and coerced to admit that he had come to New Delhi to trigger blasts.
“My hands had to be operated for serious injuries caused by police beating. There was a time during interrogation when an officer pointed his pistol on my head and threatened to shoot me if I don’t admit terror attack,” he said.
“Chill ran down my spine when I heard about Tihar Jail. I was frightened to death. I cannot describe the 13-day experience in the Special Cell custody,” he added.
Liyaqat said he was hoping for a bright future when he left Pakistan-administered Kashmir for the Valley in March 2013.
“I spent most of my youthful days in Azad Kashmir. I worked as a radio mechanic there and earned good money to feed my family. However, the separation from my mother and siblings was killing me. It was then that I decided to return home. However, the Delhi police ruined it all,” he said.