‘They have lost a decade of their lives to false allegations’

Family of acquitted men Mohd. Rafique Shah and Mohd. Hussain Fazili say they never lost hope, never believed that the charges were genuine

Published - February 17, 2017 01:33 am IST - NEW DELHI

Terror strike The blast at Sarojini Nagar Market was the deadliest and claimed 50 lives on the fateful Saturday evening on October 29, 2005. file Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

Terror strike The blast at Sarojini Nagar Market was the deadliest and claimed 50 lives on the fateful Saturday evening on October 29, 2005. file Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

When the court announced his acquittal in the 2005 triple blasts case, Mohammad Rafique Shah — dressed in a black pathani kurta and a grey overcoat — looked up to the heavens and said: “ Shukraan (Thank you)”.

The 34-year-old walked out of the Patiala House courtroom with a beaming smile while waving at the crowd and his family, who were waiting for his acquittal for nearly 12 years.

As he was being taken away by the police, Rafique got a chance to hold his mother’s hand for a second.

‘He was in class’

“My son was in his classroom in Kashmir when the blasts happened that day. He is innocent. He lost more than a decade of his life to false allegations. Who is going to give that back to us?” said 55-year-old Mehbooba Yassin, Rafique’s mother.

Mehbooba and her husband Mohammad Yassin reached Delhi from their village in Hazratbal in Srinagar on Monday. Rafique is the second of three children of the couple.

“We met Rafique and he told us that he was confident that Allah will help serve justice,” Mr. Yassin said.

‘A bright student’

“We belong to a poor family and our son was our only hope for a better life. He was a bright student and wanted to do something for the youth of Kashmir,” Rafique’s father said.

Then a Masters student at Kashmir University, Mr. Rafique was arrested from Srinagar on November 22, 2005, according to police. The family, however, said that he was picked up on the night of November 21 from his house.

Not proved in court

The police accused Mr. Rafique of planting explosives in a DTC bus in south Delhi’s Govindpuri. An eyewitness identified him as the one who left the bag containing explosives in the bus.

A narco-analysis also confirmed that Mr. Rafique knew the co-accused Tariq Ahmad Dar from before the blasts, the special cell had alleged.

These charges, however, could not be proved in court.

The police also accused Mohammed Hussain Fazili, a shawl vendor in Srinagar, of being an operative of Lashkar-e-Taiba and a link between Dar and Mr. Rafique. He too was acquitted by the court on Thursday.

“We have been through enough and now want to live our life in peace,” said Mr. Fazili’s brother-in-law, Mohammad Qasim.

Dar was the only one among the three that was convicted for the serial blasts. He has been accused of his involvement in funding terror activities.

Though Dar had pleaded innocence, the court has awarded him 10 years’ imprisonment. However, because he has already served 12 years in jail, Dar will walk away free.

Dar had joined a multinational company in 1997 and was working as a sales representative before he was arrested by the Delhi Police’s special cell from Kashmir on November 10, 2005.

Dar: father of two girls

Dar, the father of two girls, lived in Solini in Srinagar with his family. He was coming back from work when he was stopped by a few men in plain clothes, who stopped his car pointing at some problem with the tyre. He was later formally arrested for his involvement in the blasts.

His family staged protests lasting almost a week, accusing the Delhi Police of kidnapping and false implication.

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