Srinagar: Liyaqat Shah is probably the only Kashmiri to have escaped the vice-like grip of Delhi police, although it took 21 months to prove that he had been framed in an elaborately orchestrated farce. Others were not so lucky.
‘Will they return 19 years of my life?’
Farooq Ahmad Khan was arrested on May 23, 1996 by the infamous Special Task Force of Kashmir police and handed over to the Delhi police. He was charged, along with nine others, with planning and executing bomb blast in busy Lajpat Nagar market of the Indian capital. He was 30 then. Khan was acquitted of the charges but only after spending 19 years in jail.
“My 19 years of life passed in trauma and torture in Tihar jail. My marriage fell apart. I never saw my two daughters all those years. I lost my father while in jail. Everything has changed. People, roads, houses, except one thing—the undignified life of Kashmiris,” said Khan, a mechanical engineer by training, who was acquitted in September last year by a court for lack of evidence.
“Who will compensate my life behind the bars? Should I ask the so-called Indian government or the so-called JK government?” Khan, a resident of Anantnag district, told Kashmir Reader.
“During all these years, I have realised that Kashmiris would continue to be victimised and punished by Delhi. This is their policy,” he said.
Liyaqat’s acquittal, Khan said, is the “veneer beneath which the government of India wants to hide its similar crimes committed against Kashmiris”.
Union Home ministry on Wednesday indicated that tough action will be taken against the Delhi police officers who had fabricated terror charges against Shah. But Khan is skeptical, saying not a single official responsible for fabricating charges against scores of Kashmiris in the past has been indicted or punished so far.
“Liyaqat’s case is a mere public relations exercise,” Khan adds.
‘Those 3 months seemed to me like 15 years’
Tariq Ahmad Dar, a Kashmiri model, was arrested by the Delhi police and charged with terrorism in January 2007. A Delhi court acquitted him three months later.
“It has become easy to frame Kashmiris under false charges and put them behind bars. In my case nobody was held accountable. I want them to be punished,” said Dar.
“Those officials who deliberately ruin lives of Kashmiris should be punished. They owe us an apology. I have said this on many forums during TV debates but nobody listens.”
Dar said he was tortured for 10 consecutive days during his three-month incarceration.
“Those three month look like 15 years to me. The trauma is unimaginable. It is hell…many people have gone through the worst before me…who will compensate them for those lost years and trauma,” he said.
‘September 11-style bomber’
In November 2006, the Delhi police arrested Imran Kirmani, an aeronautical engineer from Magam in Kupwara district, on charges of “plotting a September 11-style strike in New Delhi”. He was labeled as a member of Lashkar-e-Toiba module that was planning to carry out the strike. He was acquitted of the charges in October 2013.
Court picks ‘holes’ in familiar Delhi police script
On October 2, 2013, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, two Kashmiri youth, Javed Ahmad Tantray and Ashiq Ali Bhat, were arrested by the Delhi police on charges of planning suicide attacks in the capital city in 2009. However, a court acquitted both of them after finding “gaping holes” in the police investigation and questioning the “fabricated evidence”.
From teenager to man at Tihar
On April 8, 2010, Syed Maqbool Shah, of Lal Bazaar, Srinagar, was released after 14-year imprisonment at Tihar jail and Rohini district jail of Delhi. Maqbool was 17 when the DP arrested him on charges of conspiring in the Lajpat Nagar bomb blast case of 1996. Shah was released after a Sessions Court at Delhi acquitted him of the “false charges”.
Escaping the death
On November 22, 2012 Delhi high court acquitted two Kashmiris, Nissar Hussain and Mohammad Ali Bhat, who had been sentenced to death by a trial court in the Lajpat Nagar bomb blast case. The death penalty of a third convict, Mohammad Naushad, was converted to lifer.
Innocence bears fruit
On November 27, 2006, brothers and fruit merchants, Samiullah Sheikh and Ali Mohammad Sheikh, were on a business trip to New Delhi. The Delhi police personnel in civvies arrested them from Nizamuddin Railway Station on charges of planning terror attacks. The brothers spent eight years at Tihar Jail. They were acquitted in July last year.