LAJPAT NAGAR BLAST CASE | After 23 years of imprisonment, 3 Srinagar residents acquitted

Rajasthan High Court finds trio innocent; families demand compensation
Ali Mohmmad Bhat among the three who has been acquitted by Jaipur High Court. Pic : Mubashir Khan /GK
Ali Mohmmad Bhat among the three who has been acquitted by Jaipur High Court. Pic : Mubashir Khan /GK

After a long wait of nearly 23 years, three residents of Srinagar, accused of being involved in Lajpat Nagar bomb blast of 1996, reached home on Wednesday after being acquitted by Rajasthan High Court.

Jubilant scenes were witnessed at their houses as familymembers, relatives and neighbors accorded them a rousing and emotionalreception.  Many friends and closerelatives welcomed them by showering flower petals, garlands amid hugs andprayers.

The acquitted were identified as Lateef Ahmad Waza, MirzaNisar Hussain and Ali Muhammad Bhatt, all residents of Srinagar city. Accordingto the trio, they were first acquitted by the Delhi High Court and then JaipurHigh Court in the cases related to dumping of arms and ammunition and LajpatNagar bomb blast case where in 13 civilians were killed and 39 injured. Theywere arrested in 1996 and served imprisonment in Rajasthan and Tihar jails for23 years. As per the trio, they were never released on a parole or bail eversince they were arrested in 1996.

Lateef Ahmed Waza. Pic: Mubashir Khan /GK

At the house of Lateef Ahmed Waza son of Ghulam Ahmed, aresident of Shamswari, Khankha-e-Moula in Downtown, people were making abeeline to receive  him with manyshowering flower petals on him.

"I was arrested from Kathmandu and kept in Delhi police cellin connection with Lajpat Nagar bomb blast. After that, Jaipur police cell alsosought my custody.  I was linked with ablast that had occurred in Mahua in 1996 and then also with the Lajpat Nagarbomb blast case of May 1996," Lateef told Greater Kashmir. "We were alwayssurprised to see the charges that were leveled against us as we never committedthe crimes for which we were imprisoned."

Lateef lost his father after he went to see him at Jaipurprison. "After meeting me in Jaipur, my father couldn't survive for more than aweek," he said. On how he feels after returning home after 23 long-years, hesaid.  "Today, I am feeling like I amlost in a dream about returning home after a long time. I still feel it is nota reality," he said.

Lateef's mother constantly gazes at her son's face. "Afterevery court hearing, I would pray to Alimight Allah for my son's release…today my prayers were answered," she said.

At the residence of another released youth, Mirza NisarHussain son of Mirza Ali Muhammad, a resident of Namchabal, Fateh Kadal, peoplewere seen hugging Mirza with relatives hugging him amid sobs.

 "We were freed byDelhi High Court first and then by Rajasthan court. At the end, we proved to beinnocent," Mirza said.

Elaborating he said "I was only 17 when I was arrested fromNepal. After reaching home, I was not able to recognize my close relatives. Iasked their names so that I could recall their faces.  I am not even able to recognize my closerelations."

Mirza Nisar Hussaint. Pic: Mubashir Khan /GK

 Mirza's brotherIfthikar Mirza said that "23 precious years of my brother have gone waste.Government must compensate my brother," he said.

The third released youth, Muhammad Ali Bhat son of Sher AliBhat, a resident of Hassanabad, Rainawari in Downtown, Srinagar said thatduring his imprisonment, he lost both his parents.  He was arrested in 1996 and lodged in Tihartill 2014 and then shifted to Jaipur jail where we remained till July 24, 2019.

Soon after reaching Srinagar, he first visited Imam BaraHassanabad to offer prayers to thank Almighty for his safe return after a longgap of over two-decades.  "I had thoughtI would meet my family only after my death. But Allah is great as he acceptedmy prayers and today I am back to my house after such a long time," he said.

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