An Ordeal of a Family Whose Innocent Member Languished in Jail for 12 Years

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Jail.

Shahbaz Ahmad, held in Jaipur blasts case of 2008, is out of the jail but he is still suffering from mental trauma

Mohd Aasif | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – “No one can understand my emotions and it is hard to explain how tough the past twelve years have been for the family. It was a fight for justice”, said Sadaf Moid, wife of Shahbaz Ahmad (46), who languished in jail for 12 year undertrial.

On 13th May 2008, within a span of minutes, a series of eight synchronized bomb blasts took place in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. The 9th bomb was found and defused. Official reports confirm 80 dead with 216 or more people injured.

In 2008, Shahbaz Ahmad settled in Lucknow after he got married to Sadaf Moid and set up a small business. He was arrested and charged with the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for the Jaipur bomb blast.

Talking about the unspeakable struggle of twelve long years of the family, Abdul Moid (67), father-in-law of Shahbaz Ahmad, said, “I pray that no one’s daughter should face such days.”

Retired in 2012 from the Public Works Department, Abdul Moid said that he took the onus of proving the innocence of his son-in-law and providing for her daughter’s family. “It got difficult after my retirement, things are not easier for a pensioner”, he told Clarion India.

Though the matter was undertrial, Sadaf had to suffer social taboo and mental torture. People used to call her ‘aatankwadi ki biwi’ (wife of a terrorist). “Even our own people did not spare us”, Sadaf told Clarion India. She had to cover the truth for the sake of her kids’ childhood.

“The eldest son was 3 yrs old at the time of arrest, he is now in high school. The youngest daughter has never seen her father. She was only 3 months old. Kids are not able to express their emotions as they have never experienced the presence of a father”, she added.

“Gradually with the growing age, my kids started to have an idea of the whereabouts of their father and started to enquire. I told them that their father is innocent and some things are better left to almighty. I had trust in my husband”, she said.

“After the kids’ father was gone”, Sadaf continued, “their grandfather [Abdul Moid] took the responsibility of the kids and treated them like his own”.

Jaipur High Court, while issuing bail orders to Shahbaz Ahmad (48), expressed surprise for his languishing in jail without any charge sheet and ultimately his acquittal in all cases.

Justice Pankaj Bhandari observed in the bail order: “It is indeed surprising that when the petitioner was languishing in jail (I am using the term ‘languishing in jail’ because petitioner remained in custody for twelve years and was ultimately found not guilty in all cases). As to why the petitioner was not arrested in this case when he remained in custody for twelve years, is a query put up before the learned Additional Advocate General, to which the learned Additional Advocate General is clueless. Learned Additional Advocate General was not in a position to apprise the court as to why petitioner has been arrested in the present FIR when he was held not guilty in eight similar FIRs.”

In May 2008, First FIR was filed in relation to the Jaipur Bomb Blast. After three months of filing the FIR, Shahbaz Ahmad was arrested from Lucknow and was made accused in other connected FIRs.

“In December 2019, the Special Court of Jaipur was pleased to acquit the petitioner from all the cases, while saying that the prosecution had totally failed to prove the case against the petitioner”, said advocate Mujahid in his bail petition.

Police filed charge-sheet in eight cases against five accused-persons. In all the eight cases, out of five persons, four persons have been given death penalty and only Shahbaz Ahmad was acquitted in all eight cases.

Even after acquittal, Ahmad was not released and when his lawyer inquired from the Jail Authorities, he was informed that two more cases were still pending against him. His lawyer then filed a petition in the Supreme Court regarding the two false cases on the incident that happened in the jail.

“The Jail authorities alleged that Ahmad assaulted the officers while searching the wards. On the contrary, he was given merciless beatings by the jail authorities which is self-evident from the Medical Report dated 6th April, 2019”, Advocate Mujahid told Clarion India.

The nine FIRs filed relating to bomb blast cases in 2008, charge-sheet was filed in only eight cases and Shahbaz Ahmad was acquitted in all the eight cases. “There is no reason for arresting the petitioner after twelve years of lodging of the FIR when the allegations in all the FIRs are the same”, the court order reads further.

Shahbaz is out of the jail but he is still suffering from mental trauma. “He is not willing to talk to anyone yet”, said Sadaf when Clarion India requested him to speak on the phone.

In 2013, Shahbaz also lost her mother. “She was longing to see her son free from the charges of heinous crime”, reads his bail petition.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) claims that they had proven all the allegations on Shahbaz Ahmad wrong in a fact-finding survey conducted in August 2008. Kavita Shrivastav, president of PUCL, Rajasthan Unit, says that it is a criminal act to snatch away twelve years of freedom of an innocent individual.

“We cannot return twelve years of Ahmad’s life but we demand for strictest action and an FIR be lodged against the police official who framed him in false cases”, said Kavita Shrivastav.

PUCL also demands a compensation of Rs. 1 crore for the social-mental and psychological trauma the family of Shahbaz Ahmad had gone through.

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