Accused of working for Hizbul, Bashir Baba acquitted of all charges
SRINAGAR: “The happiest day of my life was when my son returned home after being acquitted of all the charges he was booked under,” says Mokhti, the mother of Bashir Baba, who was released on Saturday nearly 12 years after he was arrested by the Anti-Terror Squad in Gujarat.
For Mokhti, who is in the late sixties, the strongest reason to feel the happiest in her life at this age is redemption. She lost her husband, her property, and almost every material possession during the period her son was imprisoned in a jail where he had no Kashmiri companion for twelve years.
Mokhti first sold her property to pay for the legal fees to secure her son’s release. Then it was the loss of her husband to cancer, and then her own falling health, which left her almost destitute.
“My husband died in 2017; it was my last hope dashed. I did not see any reason to live. I was alone and in a state of disarray,” she told Kashmir Reader.
Her son’s imprisonment was a constant torment for her for twelve years, until Saturday last week, when it was all gone in a moment.
Bashir was released after the judge dismissed all charges against him. During these twelve years, a court in Gujarat had to hear from nearly 88 witnesses, of which only two were from Kashmir Valley. In 2019, the process ended. It took another one-and-a-half year for Bashir and his family to hear the judgment.
Bashir was accused of being on a recce in Gujarat to establish a terror network and to recruit for the Hizbul Mujahideen Muslim youths who were angry over the 2002 riots. He was accused of being in touch with Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin and one Bilal Ahmed Shera over phone and emails.
“Whatever it is, my son is back, and it is the world for me,” Mokhti said.
Bashir, though, now has to face a drastic change in his life. He has only three members at home left, out of the total six. His two sisters are married, his father has passed away. Bashir, 43, has to start all over again. He lost his job after his arrest. Now he has to look for a living, get himself and his brother married. Although he is armed with more degrees, which he acquired while in prison, the terrain is treacherous in a place in Kashmir where there are very limited job opportunities for the educated. A think-tank based in Delhi found 14.2 percent unemployment in February 2021 alone, which is the worst national average, in Jammu and Kashmir. India’s national unemployment average is 7 percent.
Bashir earned nine educational certificates while in jail. He succesfuly completed a BA in Public Administration, an MA in the same, an MA in Political Science, a PG diploma in Intellectual Property Rights, Integrated English as a secondary language, among other courses.
“There are challenges ahead of me, but the happiness of being at home is giving me courage that I can restart. I am hopeful,” Bashir told Kashmir Reader.