Baramulla: Had he not confessed to involvement in the Parliament attack he would have been alive today. He used to tell the truth even in matters that appear trivial. I am proud that he even ended his life on truth. On Shabir (Shah) sahab’s request, renowned lawyer Ram Jethmalani agreed to fight his case. Jethmalani said that he is not used to fighting cases based on falsehood. He (Jethmalani) took the Quran in hand and asked Afzal to swear that he is not involved in the attack. Afzal didn’t but confessed that he was involved in the attack. Jethmalani then left. I came to know about these details through the letters he used to send to me. He used to write each and every detail of the jail—how it feels inside its four walls, the friends he had made there, etc. In fact, after his arrest in 2001, an Indian news channel ran Afzal’s interview in which he confesses to having assisted the militants who attacked the Indian Parliament. He called me before that interview was aired. He said everyone convicted in the case except him will be freed. I told him ‘I don’t understand what you mean’. He said I will come to know very soon. When the interview was aired I was shocked. A year later when I met him in jail and complained about the self-destructive truths he used to tell the lawyer, he told me, ‘Go and divorce me. They all (the other accused) are innocent. And when he calmed down a bit, he said ‘If I had not taken the blame on myself, you would have been living in hell’. Believe me, since 2001 I have never been harassed by police or any other agency.
I see him as a martyr who sacrificed his life for the freedom of Kashmir. He sacrificed himself for others. Now every other convict in that case is free. My only complaint is that all those who eulogise Afzal didn’t support him in the initial stages of the case. Had the resistance leadership supported him from the beginning, it probably would have been a different story.
‘Stay away from political events’
Right now, Ghalib (Afzal’s son) is my priority. Ghalib, like his father, is very much into studies. His education and my poor health are the reasons why I left my nursing job in 2014. I would be ungrateful if I tell you that nobody supports us. I am grateful to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabir Shah who do help.
I try to keep Ghalib away from politics. He was invited to Hurriyat seminar in 2014. A man, probably a CID official, whispered into his ear that he should not participate in any political event. Since then, I don’t send him to such programmes.
‘Meeting Afzal was like Eid for us’
Whenever we went to meet him at Tihar, we would shop like we do on Eid. It was such joy no words can express. We were allowed three meetings with him. In the first meeting, he would give us a list of things he wanted us to buy. This will include dresses for his jail inmates. He would tell us all these prisoners would achieve martyrdom one day and Allah would reward us for this deed. My family will pay for the shopping. One thing I observed during those jail visits was that he was respected by prisoners and jail authorities alike.
He not only read Ghalib but listened to his Ghazals sung by Jagjit Singh
“Daagh-e-Firaaq-e-Sohbatt-e-Shab Ki Jali Hui, Ek Shamma Reh Gayi Hai So Wo Bhi Khamosh Hai.” Have you heard of this ghazal by Mirza Ghalib? This was one of his favourites. He used to buy VHS tapes. He had a poetic and philosophical bent of mind. Such was the influence of poets on him that he first named Ghalib as Tabrez (after great Persian sufi poet Shams Tabrez), but I protested saying kids will nickname him as Tabri (axe). Then he named him as Ghalib.
—As told to Fazil Qayoom