Happiness has visited the Wani family of Baramulla after 16 long years.
Gulzar Ahmad Wani, who was acquitted of all charges in a case involving a blast on a train in 2001 by a court in Uttar Pradesh on May 20, reached his home in Tappar Bala, Baramulla district, on Tuesday.
Hundreds of local residents thronged Wani’s place to congratulate the family.
“I have seen him growing in front of my eyes. His 16 years of incarceration has devastated his family. He is a noble soul and one can never imagine him doing what he was accused of,” says Fatima, an elderly woman who visited the family on Wednesday.
The joy of freedom was writ on Gulzar’s face.
“What can be better than being with one’s family in this holy month again? A lot has changed here. Many people I knew are no more and there are new faces in our family and the neighbourhood,” said Gulzar.
Gulzar, 28 then, said that the infamous Special Cell of Delhi police, which has been accused of implicating several Kashmiris in the past, arrested him on July 30, 2001 from Kamla Nehru Market, when he was on his way to Aligarh Muslim University where he was pursuing PhD in Arabic.
“Fifteen cases were framed against me, among them the blast on the Sabarmati Express. The court had acquitted me of all charges but I was jailed for 16 years for the crime I never committed. Who will give me back those precious years of my life,” said Gulzar.
“I was focused on my studies and had qualified the National Eligibility Test twice. But the Special Cell of Delhi police destroyed my career,” said Gulzar. He said delayed trials were the primary reason behind prolonged incarceration of Kashmiri youths.
He said in 2000, then chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir visited the Aligarh Muslim University. During that year, employees in Kashmir had not been receiving their salaries in time and many parents were not able to send money to their children studying at the university.
“Kashmiri students decided to protest against the visiting CM. Though I was not involved in the protest, I believe it could have been one of the reasons behind my arrest if not the only reason,” he said.
After his arrest, Gulzar said he was implicated in 15 cases—seven in Delhi, six in UP and two in Maharashtra.
Additional sessions Judge MA Khan, in his judgment acquitting Gulzar, has said “the lives of students had been deliberately spoiled by filing a chargesheet without any proof. Without proper legal sanctions, cognizance of the case was taken illegally.”