TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE

   

Iftikhar used to run his family business in Mussouri in Himachal Pradesh. When he was detained by Delhi police, his shop was sealed by the authorities. With no source of income to feed the family, Nissar’s second brother, Mirza Zaffar Hussain, who was studying at the time of the incident, had to drop out of school to help his family.

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The burden of shouldering the responsibility of a penniless family multiplied as they had already lost their father. “I worked as a private school teacher and also used to give tuitions which helped our family’s income,” said Zaffar who single-handedly married off his three sisters.

“He was only 15-year-old when he was sent to Tihar for a crime he never committed. He was a kid. He grew up in jail. Now when the court has released him after 17 long years, he should be acquitted in Jaipur bomb blast case as well,” Nissar’s mother, Padsha Begum, says.

She met Nissar on a number of occasions in jail, “Last time I met him in jail, he told me he had never been to Jaipur all his life. Then how come he planned the bomb blast? It is a crude injustice to us,” Padsha Begum said.

A File photo of 1996 Lajpat Nagar Blast that killed at least 12 people in New Delhi
A File photo of 1996 Lajpat Nagar Blast that killed at least 12 people in New Delhi

While recollecting the memories during his stay at Tihar jail, Iftikhar says a charge-sheet was filed against all the persons held in Lajpat Nagar bomb blast case linking them to Jaipur blast as well. “The irony is that three chargesheets have been slapped in Jaipur bomb blast case on three different parties,” says Iftikhar, “First chargesheet was slapped on Kashmiri youth which was later scraped. The second chargesheet was slapped on us and the third was slapped on Pakistani nationals. Inspite of tracing the real offenders, they never scraped the charged against Nissar and others,” Iftikhar claims.

Sharing the anecdotes of the court proceedings of Lajpat Nagar bomb blasts with Kashmir Life, Iftikhar said the session court in New Delhi used to mock the arguments put forward by the government prosecutors in the case. “The court always used to pick holes in lawyers’ arguments and used to tell them: ‘stop harassing innocent boys from Kashmir by presenting poor evidence’,” Iftikhar claimed.

Now, when it seems that the long gone son of Padshah Begum is about to reunite with his family, happiness is still eluding her. “After spending premier years of his life in jail, he has been finally declared innocent. Who will pay him back all these years?” asked the mother who offered prayers of gratitude soon after hearing about his son’s acquittal.

Case History

On May 21, 1996, Lajpat Nagar market was rocked with a high intensity bomb blast which was triggered by explosives kept in a stolen Maruti car in the market. This resulted in 13 deaths while 38 others were injured.

A twist in the case emerged in April 2010 when a court convicted six alleged Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front (JKIF) militants for their involvement in the case. The judiciary awarded death sentence to Muhammad Naushad, Muhammad Ali Bhatt and Mirza Nissar Hussain while their fourth accomplice, Javed Ahmed Khan, was sentenced to life.

After depressing delay in court proceedings all these years and the ‘flawed’ evidence provided by police in the case, the Delhi High Court on Thursday slammed the Delhi police for ‘serious lapses’ in the investigations and acquitted Mohammad Ali Bhat and Mirza Nissar Hussain who were sentenced with capital punishment in the case. The court commuted the death penalty of the third accused, Javed Ahmed Khan alias Chotta Javed, to life imprisonment.

Pronouncing its verdict, the court rebuked the Delhi Police for its failure to adduce even ‘the minimum standard of proof’, saying ‘it has shown a casual approach in the case.’ “Police has not maintained minimum standard of probe in the case. Test Identification Parade was not conducted and the statement of vital witnesses was not recorded. There was also absence of ‘Delhi Diary’ entry in the case,” the bench said.

The remaining two convicts, Farooq Ahmed Khan and his woman accomplice, Farida Dar, who had been held guilty for offences under the Explosive Substances Act and the Arms Act, were sentenced to imprisonment for seven years and four years and two months respectively.

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