Fmr militant vouches for brother’s innocence
‘He’s Rotting In Jail For Past 14 Years’
Islamabad, Jan 17: Wearing a pheran and supported by a crutch, Mushtaq Khan, 38, chats with a customer before turning towards this reporter at his Prime Medicos pharmacy in the heart of Islamabad town in south Kashmir. Released on militants’ demand in the Nahida Soz kidnapping case, Mushtaq was among thousands of youngsters who joined militancy in early ‘90s.
Fourteen years after dropping the gun, he raises questions on India's sincerity. With unmoving eyes, he narrates the story of his own life and of his brother, Farooq Ahmad Khan, 44, who has been accused of involvement in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar blast case and is under-trial for the past 14 years. Drained economically and emotionally due to the court case, Mushtaq blames Indian State for ruining his family for no fault of theirs.
A bright student, Mushtaq attended Islamia Hanifa College in Islamabad. After the 1987 elections, talk of Azadi (Freedom) had started. “The elections were rigged but I think even if MUF had come to power, the freedom struggle would have been the same. It might have been delayed by a few years but when you see nine-year olds being raped and so many youths slaughtered, how can the emotion die?” he opines.
Merely 18 then, he was studying in class 12 when he left his home in Islamabad’s Lal Chowk for Muzafarrabad to get arms training. Recalling that day, he says, “I left home early that morning. Rather than going to school, I left for Jammu and from there I went to Rajouri followed by Mendhar.”
From the border town of Mendhar, Mushtaq and his companions crossed the LoC. In Muzzafarabad, he says he met Amanullah Khan who was heading the JKLF then. Two months later, he returned home only to find his family in tatters. “Our house was raided often. My father, a government employee, was transferred. I then joined Students Liberation Front,” he explains.
Mushtaq states that most youngsters involved in the armed struggle were good students and came from good families and that they were fully aware they couldn’t throw India out with the gun but wanted to attract global attention towards the plight of Kashmiris. “Till then, it was just an India-Pak border dispute. We wanted to make the people’s sentiment heard; our voices to be addressed,” he adds.
Arrested after 3 months, he was released in the 1991 Nahida Soz kidnapping case and became active again. He was fired at in a group clash in 1994, hurting his right leg that later had to be amputated. Circumstances forced Mushtaq to drop the gun.
It was then that his elder brother, Farooq, a Junior Mechanical Engineer in PHE, was accused of involvement in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar blasts and taken into custody. “I was in Amritsar with my father for treatment of my leg, while my brother was at home with our mother.
One of my friends who was a former militant used our landline phone after the blasts. The call was traced and Farooq, the only earning member of our family, was jailed,” reminisces Mushtaq, tapping his finger on the wooden counter.
Mushtaq says that Farooq, who completed his engineering from Madras, had absolutely no links with any of the militant outfits. He would have been an executive engineer had he been free today. “The case is under-trial; the dates of the final argument have been delayed thrice. Not even one charge has been proved against him. Then why is the court reluctant to give a decision?” he questions.
Farooq’s wife remarried, taking their two daughters with her. Mushtaq now stays alone with his mother Parveza Jabeen, 65, after his father passed away in 2002.
With a faraway look in his eyes, he concludes, “My brother is rotting in Rohini Jail of New Delhi despite his being innocent. We are tired of running now. The freedom movement can not stop till atrocities continue.”
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Jan 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Jan 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Jan 2010 00:00:00 IST
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