Srinagar: A Kashmiri man was acquitted after being jailed for 12 years over a false militancy case in Gujarat.
Bashir Ahmed Baba, a resident of Srinagar, was last week cleared of all charges including the controversial Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), TRT World reported.
“I spent 12 years in prison because I was accused falsely of a crime I didn’t commit. But this too must be a test from Allah or maybe even better. Maybe I was meant to go through something even more terrible. Maybe I would have met an accident and spent the next 12 years in a comma. Who knows, maybe this was Allah’s way to protect me,” Baba was quoted by TRT World as saying.
As per the report, in February 2010, Baba, then a 32-year-old, left his home to attend a training workshop that was arranged for him by his employer, a German non-governmental organisation that ran a project in India for the medical support of children in rural areas.
The venue for the training was Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi who at that time led the state as a chief minister. Baba was supposed to return home in two weeks. But six days into his training the anti-terrorism squad or ATS of the Gujarat police picked him and his colleague from their dorm room in Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujarat, the report said.
The report quoting Baba, said between February 27 and March 13, the ATS kept him under detention and interrogated him until they pressed charges against him. India’s reputed media organisations ran stories about Baba, portraying him as a militant who had set out to recruit Muslim men in Gujarat.
“I didn’t even know about the crimes they were accusing me of. I was beaten badly. During my detention, I fell sick as well. I was taken to the hospital for treatment. Finally, I was presented in front of a judge. The next 12 years were just about spending time in jail and attending court hearings every now and then,” the report quoted Baba as saying.
Baba’s absence from home left a deep psychological and emotional impact on his family.
“Many of our uncles and aunts passed away during this decade but the biggest blow to our family came when our father passed away,” the report quoted Baba’s younger brother Nazir Ahmed as saying.
Ahmed, who works as a salesman, toiled for his brother’s freedom after his ageing father Ghulam Nabi Baba, who also went from pillar to post for his son’s release, was diagnosed with colon cancer. Ghulam Nabi Baba had worked his entire life as a small-time contractor. He passed away in 2017.
The report said that Baba family’s finances dwindled because they had to bear the costs of both the terrorism case against Baba and his father’s illness. The family’s poor conditions became so visible that one day when Baba’s lawyer Javaid Khan visited the family he decided not to charge any fee. The veteran lawyer, Baba said, passed a week before he was cleared of all charges.