by Bilal Bahadur
KL News Network
After wearing a gloomy, deserted look for more than a decade, Mohammad Hussain Fazili’s modest house in Srinagar’s Buchpora outskirts is abuzz with celebratory activities. He has come home after spending 12 years in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
Arrested for his alleged involvement in serial blasts that shook Delhi in 2005, killing 67 people, Fazli moved out a free man, innocent. But it took him 12 years.
As Fazili entered the main gate of his house around two dozen women, mostly their neighbours and relatives, started singing paeans for him. The men welcomed him with warm hugs and kisses on his forehead. When his aged mother embraced him, it was quite an emotional reunion. Both wept, bitterly.
Fazili, now 43, was released on Friday following the order of acquittal passed by a Delhi Court on Thursday. Fazili, who was 30 when arrested, now sports a long flowing beard. He was a Shawl weaver.
Fazili and two others Mohammad Rafiq Shah and Tariq Ahmad Dar were arrested in November 2005 in connection with the Delhi serial blasts. While two men Fazili and Shah have been acquitted, Dar has been handed over ten year imprisonment and he is in jail for past ten years.
As he was escorted to their living room in their single story house, known, unknown, small, young, old, nieces, cousins, uncles, aunts, flocked the spot. Some he recognized, most, however, he could not, especially those who were born and brought up when he was in jail. Even those who were toddlers when he was arrested were strange to them.
But his homecoming was a moment of joy for everyone who saw his face. Even the children born after his arrest rejoiced after meeting him. The sense of relationship with the freeman was clearly visible on their faces.
Every guest who visited to greet Fazili was given a handful of candies and dry fruits.
When I asked him to talk about his incarceration and freedom, Fazily asked, “Who will return me my last 12 long years?”
FazilI said that on November 21 that year, a police party arrived at his home and searched for him. “I was there and when they saw me they took me to another room and began interrogation. Their questions shocked me. As I couldn’t answer their queries they started beating me. Thereafter they took me to some unknown spot where I was kept for two days. Then I was flown to Delhi.” Thus began his journey of incarceration for twelve years.
Fazili’s parents have grown old and frail now. His father has developed multiple complications including hypertensions and prostate. His mother said: “Today my son is born again.”
Tragic it may sound, his parents never visited him in Tihar. His mother told me they could not afford a visit Delhi.
As the family broke into a celebration, I left the bearded man gasping in the moments of loss. Seemingly, he wanted to relive the moments of life that jail devoured from him.
(Bilal Bahadur is Kashmir Life’s chief photographer)