23 years in prison, Goni reaches home to a rousing welcome

Bhadarwah, July 27: Four days after the Rajasthan High Court acquitted him in the 1996 Samleti blast case, Abdul Gani Goni said he won’t take a legal recourse against his “illegal imprisonment” for 23 years, as “it was the destiny and the will of God”.

Despite heavy downpour, hundreds of people gathered at Bhadarwah town to welcome Goni, 57, who was recently acquitted of all charges and released after spending 23 years in prison.

The people had gathered from Pasri Bus Stand to Jamia Masjid locality of the town to welcome Goni.

After reaching his home town, Goni first of all went to the main mosque to offer prayers. From mosque, he went to grave of his parents. He broke down at her mother’s grave and said it was all destiny and “I do not hold any grudge against anyone and have left everything to God.”

“I was a teacher by profession and it was written in my destiny to go to jail. Perhaps, Allah wanted me to teach inside the jail as I continued to teach Islam to the inmates both at Tihar and Jaipur jails,” Goni said.

Goni was arrested in June 1996. He remained in prison at different places outside J&K and was never released on parole or bail.

During his 23 years imprisonment, his elder sister Shafiqa Goni a retired nursing teacher, ran from pillar to post and exhausted every penny to seek his release.

“My mother died 3 years back after waiting for him for two decades. When she was on death bed, I applied thrice for his parole but every time it was turned down,” said Shafiqa Goni, 65, elder sister of Goni.