Ask, who will bring back those years?
Image Courtesy: Indian Express
Five men who were accused in the 1996 Samleti blast case were on Monday acquitted by the Jaipur High Court after 23 years as the prosecution could not establish any link between them and the main accused, Dr Abdul Hameed, whose death sentence was upheld, reported the Indian Express.
A trial court at Bandikui in Dausahad awarded death penalty to one person, Dr Abdul Hamid, and life terms to seven others in the 1996 bomb blast case.
The division bench of justices Sabina and GoverdhanBardhar, however, upheld the death penalty awarded to Abdul Hamid, saying he was the key person behind planting of the bomb in the bus going to Bikaner from Agra on May 22, 1996.
On Tuesday evening, Latif Ahmed Baja (42), Ali Bhatt (48), Mirza Nisar (39), Abdul Goni (57) and Rayees Beg (56), stepped out of prison; Beg had been incarcerated since June 8, 1997, while the others were imprisoned between June 17, 1996 and July 27, 1996. During this time, they were lodged in jails in Delhi and Ahmedabad, but were never released on parole or bail.
After their release the five men saidthat they didn’t know each other until the Criminal Investigation Department (Crime Branch) made them an accused in the case. While Beg is a resident of Agra, Goni is from Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir, and the others are from Srinagar. Before they were jailed, Bhatt had a carpet business, Baja used to sell Kashmiri handicraft in Delhi and Kathmandu, Nisar was a Class IX student and Goni used to run a school.
“We have no idea about the world we are stepping into,” saidGoni. “We’ve lost relatives while we were inside. My mother, father and two uncles passed away. We have been acquitted, but who will bring back those years,” asked Beg, adding that his sister has since got married and his niece is now about to get married too.
The case dates back to May 22, 1996, when a bomb blast in a bus near Samleti village in Dausa, on the Jaipur-Agra highway, claimed 14 lives and injured 37 people; the bus was headed to Bikaner from Agra. The blast came a day after the Lajpat Nagar bomb blast in Delhi, in which 13 people were killed.
The chargesheet had accused the men of being associated with the Kashmir based militant group, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and even claimed that they were also involved in the Sawai Man Singh Stadium blast in Jaipur in 1996. Their counsel Shahid Hasan said, “They were named in multiple cases without any basis. They have been acquitted in all the cases — but after 23 years.”