Srinagar: Two men on death row for the 1996 Lajpat Nagar blasts were on Thursday acquitted by the Delhi High Court. They will finally be reunited with their loved ones after 16 years in jail but there are no celebrations, as the fight to clear their names has taken a toll. There is some relief but with it, much anger against a system that denied them justice for far too long.
It has been a tearful wait for 72-year-old Sher Ali Bhat, but 16 years later, he will finally be reunited with his son Mohammad Ali, who was acquitted by the Delhi High Court on Thursday. Then 26, Ali was arrested from Nepal along with several others, and not able to cope with her son's arrest, his mother Hajira had died in April 2000, leaving old Sher Ali to fend for his three other small kids and carry on the legal battle for Mohammed's release.
Sher Ali refused to call the decision of the Delhi High Court justice. He said, "How can you call this justice? In the initial stages itself, the case was handled in a wrong manner."
Five km away from Sher Ali's residence, Padshah Bano's eyes were also full of tears. Her second son, Mirza Nissar, was also acquitted by the Delhi High Court on Thursday. He was just 14 when he was arrested, and his older brother, Iftikar, was released just two years back after serving a 14-year term in the same case.
However, the celebrations are muted as the Shia community is observing Muharram. Sharing her feeling, Padshah Bano said, "We just hope our son returns home, he has been in jail for over a decade now."
"These are Muharram days…we have waited enough for his innocence. Today, he has been acquitted. We hope we see him before Sunday, the 10th day of Muharram," she further said.
Nissar's uncle Mirza Mohammad Hussain said that though the development has made them happy, they are worried about his nephew's future. "We are happy with this verdict but saddened by the fact that his 16 precious years were lost in jail. How is he going to live in future which remains very dark?" he said.
The families say the arrests did not just take an emotional toll, they were also drained economically fighting the case.