Nearly seventeen years back Gulzar Ahmed Wani, a 28-year-old Phd scholar at Aligarh Muslim University, was taken into police custody by the police in Uttar Pradesh for what the police then called him an operative of Hizbul Mujahideen. Today he walked out of prison as a middle age man when a local court in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki acquitted him of all charges in the 2000 Sabarmati Express blast case.
Wani, who was pursuing his PhD in AMU’s Arabic department, was arrested from New Delhi on July 31, 2001, and named as an accused in the case. He was 28 years old. More than dozen were injured in Sabarmati Express blast after a bomb exploded on the Sabarmati Express in Barabanki district on August 14, 2000.
A resident of Pattan, in north Kashmir, Wani has been in jail since then. After languishing behind bars for 17 years, Wani walked out free on Saturday. Wani was also accused of being a conspirator in 10 other cases of explosions and slapped with 14 FIRs in different police stations of Delhi, Maharashtra and UP prior to 2000. But he was acquitted in all other cases.
On April 25 this year, the Supreme Court termed Wani’s custody spanning over 16 years without bail as “shame”.
A similar case became a sensation in Kashmir, when Mohammad Rafiq Shah was declared innocent and returned home after twelve years in prison, in February this year. He was charged for the 2005 serial blasts in Delhi. Shah was pursuing post-graduation when he was arrested, and was preparing for examinations when suddenly his house was besieged.