After 23 years of wrongful imprisonment, Kashmiri men return home

Written by on July 29, 2019

Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – “We are innocent,” wrote Ali Muhammad Bhat in his dairy in September 2014 when he was among six men – five of them Kashmiris – awarded life sentences by a court in western India‘s Rajasthan state.

“They had no witnesses against us. Police also said in court that these Kashmiris are innocent,” he wrote, referring to the May 22, 1996 bomb blast in Rajasthan’s Samleti village, in which 14 people were killed.

Police accused a now-defunct rebel outfit, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, for the blast, linking the six men to the group.

After 23 years of imprisonment in the case without any bail or parole, the Rajasthan High Court on July 23 declared them innocent and ordered their release.

However, the sixth accused, Javed Khan who is also from Indian-administered Kashmir, remains in jail, facing trial over another bomb blast in the Indian capital, New Delhi, which took place on May 21, a day before Samleti. The five others were acquitted in the New Delhi case seven years ago.

Bhat was 24 when he was arrested. Today, he is 47. The first thing he did after his release was to visit the graves of his parents, who died during his long incarceration.

“I cried my heart out. I screamed, shouted, wanted to tell them I have come. I thought they might answer back,” he said.

Reader's opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current track