Srinagar, Dec 10: The clock on the wall has stopped at 9:20 in this quiet Hazratbal home on the Srinagar outskirts. And so seems the life of 42-year-old Nusrat Ayoub, precisely 11 years back.
Nusrat’s life has crumbled since the June of 2002 when her husband, Muhammad Ayoub Mir, was arrested in New Delhi and later sentenced to life-imprisonment. Mir, a mechanic by profession, is serving the imprisonment for ‘offences’ under section 20 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and 14-years rigorous imprisonment for the ‘offences’ under section 22 of the POTA. “All the sentences shall run concurrently,” a court had held in a judgment in 2004.
Mir’s imprisonment has hit the family from all possible sides. Nusrat and her three daughters are waiting for him for the past 11 years. “I lost all hopes of a better tomorrow when he was arrested. And then the life-sentence to him shattered me completely,” Nusrat narrates.
Fed up with talking about the ‘innocence’ of her husband, Nusrat says, “Tell me what I would get if I speak about his innocence one more time. I have spoken about it a thousand times. Everybody knows the reality. Will we get him (Ayoub) back if we talk about him?”
Ayoub was the only breadwinner of the five-member family. “I have no more tears to shed. I have not met my husband for a long time now. We don’t feel at peace in this house without him. These 11 years have been a misery,” she says.
Mir would work as mechanic at a shop in Lal Chowk here before his arrest. “He would deal with repair of batteries. One day he was asked by the shop’s proprietor to make some purchases in Delhi. He left, but days after, we got a call from him saying he has been arrested. They arrested an innocent.”
Nusrat says, “For seven to eight years he was kept at Tihar Jail and then at Central Jail Srinagar for another three years. He is right now at the Kot Bhalwal Jail in Jammu,” she says.
The family had to face abject poverty after Mir’s arrest. Even today, it has a very little source of income.
Ayoub’s daughter, who at the time of his arrest was a class 10 student and wanted to be a lawyer or entrepreneur, now earns Rs 3100 per month to meet the ends. The 20-year-old Shaista earlier worked at a local computer institute, earning Rs 1100 per month. “They weaved a false story and implicated my Papa,” she says, as the mother-daughter duo break into tears. “Even after three months of his arrest in Delhi in 2002, police could not file a charge-sheet against him. They had no proof and they knew he was innocent.”
Nusrat says Ayoub’s mother died looking for his son’s return. “She went to coma screaming his name. She could not bear his arrest and passed away sometime later. He was not allowed to attend her funeral,” Nusrat says. “He could not even bid adieu to his eldest daughter who was married this August.”
Shaista says her younger sister is suffering from leukemia. “She does not recognize anyone except Ammi and me. She always talks about Papa and doesn’t sleep for nights together,” she says.
“Five years ago when we went to meet him, we could not recognize him. He was in a poor health. We were frightened to see his condition,” Nusrat says.
The family demands that the facts be ascertained afresh in the case. “We appeal Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to listen to us. We want to tell him about our father, his state subject. We want to ask him if our innocent father is not given justice, let all of our family be imprisoned with him,” Shaista says.