Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kashmiri youth aquitted after 14 years still not free.



For Ravi Kazi, a lawyer in Delhi court, a bail application of his
client has become, by far, his most important case these days. Kazi, a
Kashmiri Pandit, represents Mirza Iftikhar Hussain, who was acquitted
in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar bombing case after 14 years of imprisonment,
for a fight which Iftikhar had while in prison. Since Iftikhar’s
aqquital on April 8, Kazi has been trying unsuccessfully to get the
bail; today was another failed attempt.

“What will I tell his sisters and mother today? They will think I am
not getting him out because I am a Kashmiri Pandit and am not helping
him,” Kazi says to SAR Geelani and another Kashmiri Muslim friend, who
were also waiting for Iftikhar’s bail. “The judge is on leave today.
Inshaallah, I will get him, free on May 4,” Kazi finally told one of
Iftikhar’s sisters on April 30, the last hearing date.

A bail application was made for Iftikhar in which the court of
Additional Sessions Judge, Nivedita Anil Sharma granted the bail in
the sum of Rs 15000 with one local surety in the same amount, a surety
bond of SAR Geelani, an Arabic lecturer at DU, was put before the
court but after enquiry, it was dismissed on default.

“I then got my friend, a senior editor of an Urdu magazine, to submit
the bail bond but the court rejected it on the ground that he has no
command over the accused’s conduct in Kashmir while himself sitting in
Delhi,” said Geelani. “How can we get a local surety in Delhi who has
command in Kashmir also,” Geelani said.

Then, another bail bond of Geelani was filed which the court sent for
enquiry and when the charge sheet was filed that the accused’s Kashmir
address was not written on the file. “We said that the address should
be confirmed from the prison authorities where the accused was for 14
years,” says Kazi. “But the court decided to send an IO physically
from here to Kashmir to confirm the address and when he has come today
after all confirmations, the judge is absent,” Kazi says.

“It never takes so long to get a bail in these cases and especially in
a case where the accused has been acquitted after 14 years. There was
no justification for adopting the procedure. It seems that it is
simply to delay his delay his release,” Kazi said.

In 2008, in Tihar (Jail No. 1), Iftikhar, while in 12 th year of his
under-trial imprisonment, had a fight with another inmate Satinder
Singh Pal alias Twinkle who was serving time under MCOCA. Iftikhar had
hurled a paper weight at Twinkle which hit his head and resulted in an
injury which two MLC termed as ‘simple’ injury. Iftikhar, too, had
been attacked by a ‘bladebaaz’ Mohd. Idrish, a friend of Twinlke,
before the incident, according to a submission by the prison
superintendent to Additional Sessions Judge SK Savaria, which he had
reported to the authorities.

Iftikhar, 25 at the time of his arrest, had rented a shop in Missouri
and police ad clamed the involved in the blast. Iftikhar, the least
visible charecter in the judgement, according to police, was arrested
at the New Delhi Railway station while on his way to Gorakhpur with
another co- accused Naushad, who was convicted in the case. Police
claimed to have recovered from Naushad a currency note of Rs two which
they claimed would be handed used by Iftikhar to recieve a payment of
Rs one lakh. The court after 14 years acquitted Iftikhar for want of
evidence saying the two rupees note was in no way different or
special than other notes.

For Iftikhar’s family, the court dates first give them hope and then
crash it, making Iftikhar’s absence more prominent than in the last 14
years. “Since he has been acquitted, our mother waits everyday for
him. It is hard to tell her that he wont come tomorrow as well. I hope
she sees him one of these days or she will die of longing,” says
Gulshan Mirza, Iftikhar’s sister.

And for Kazi, Iftikhar has become the litmus test. “This Pandit is
having some sort of a revenge, his mother will think if there are more
of these strange procedures on the next date,” Kazi whispers to
Geelani. “And their house isn’t far from where we used to live in
Kashmir ,” he ends.

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