SRINAGAR: Neighbours and relatives poured in to greet the Shah family at their home in Shuhama area of Ganderbal for the homecoming of their son, Mohammad Rafiq Shah, acquitted along with another Kashmiri after spending 12 years in Tihar jail in Delhi.
“All I know is that I have suffered a lot,” Rafiq said while talking to Kashmir Reader. “I want that there should be no more Rafiqs in future. That would be the greatest compensation for the loss of my precious 12 years,” he said.
Talking of his ordeal in Tihar jail, Rafiq said that being a Muslim and a Kashmiri was reason enough for him to be physically and mentally tortured in custody. “The Kashmiri and Muslim prisoners are being treated very differently in Tihar jail. They are kept in high-security cells where they face many restrictions and mental torture. It is a jail within the jail. One is continuously reminded of being a Kashmiri,” he said.
“Several Kashmiris, like Dr Wasim from Kishtwar, Dr Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, an advocate, Farooq Ahmad Dagga from Kupwara, Ghulam Jeelani Lilloo from Sopore, Muzaffar Ahmad Dar and Mushtaq Ahmad Lone from Kanilwan, Islamabad, were in the jail, claiming innocence. They have been there from three to six years,” Rafiq said of his fellow Kashmiri prisoners.
Saying he was still clueless of why he was arrested, Rafiq said that it was the police who told him that he had a role in the Delhi blasts. “I had nothing in my mind by which I could have sensed that I would be arrested. Linking me to a crime that I was not even aware of, was clear sign that I was being deliberately framed,” he said.
As a student, Rafiq said, he like many others used to raise his voice against atrocities committed on Kashmiris by government forces. “That may be the reason I was arrested for – to create a fear psychosis among students that no such dissent would be allowed at the university,” Rafiq said.
“Many a time I was warned to keep quiet and to not participate in protests. There were times when I was a student when police came to my house and threatened me to stop my activities at the varsity,” Rafiq recalled.
Mohammad Hussain Fazili, a 42-year-old, was another Kashmiri acquitted of charges linking him to the Delhi bomb blasts that killed 67 people. Fazili, a shawl weaver who lived in Buchpora locality of Srinagar, was arrested the same night as Rafiq was. Fazili told Reader that he, too, was clueless about the charges levelled against him.
He said that most of the 75 Kashmiris he met at Tihar jail were acquitted of the charges against them, but a few of them were still facing trail and languishing in the jail.
Pointing to the other houses in his colony, Fazili said that it was only his house that had seen no improvement since he was arrested in 2005. “My family couldn’t even afford to come to Delhi to meet me in all these long 12 years. But we had faith that truth would overcome falsehood and sooner than later, we would be acquitted,” Fazili said.