SRINAGAR — A Gujarat court has acquitted a Kashmiri man after over 11 years of wrongful imprisonment.
Bashir Ahmed Baba, a resident of Rainawari area of Srinagar, was arrested in Gujarat for allegedly being a member of Hizbul Mujahideen.
His brother, Nazir Ahmed, said that he has reached home and they are jubilant. He said the Sessions Court in Gujarat cleared Bashir of the charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and ordered his release.
Pronouncing his innocence and acquittal, the court stated that the prosecution had “relied on emotional argument and a person cannot be held guilty merely on its fear of anarchy”.
Additional Sessions Judge, S A Nakum, rejected the Anti-Terrorism Squad’s case that Baba was associated with militants.
“No evidence was found that he was in touch with terrorist elements through electronic gadgets,” the judge said.
Bashir’s family had staged dozens of protests when he was picked up by Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad, vouching for his innocence. The family said that even the Jammu and Kashmir Police had informed Gujarat Police about the innocence of Bashir and yet he was not released. “He faced a lot of hardships and mental torture at Gujarat Jail. Thankfully, the bad days are over,” Nazir Ahmed, who works as a salesman, said.
He said his brother was arrested on mere suspicion. “He spent 11 dark years in jail just because he was a suspect. He was working as a camp coordinator with Kimaya Cleft Centre associated with the NGO Maya Foundation. He was sent by the NGO for 15 days of training related to his work to one of its centres in Gujarat for which he left home on February 17, 2010. In March next month, he was arrested.”
Bashir had completed his Masters in Urdu from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in 2009 before qualifying for a 15-day training program in Ahmedabad Gujarat in March 2010 by Maya Foundation — a German NGO running a project for surgical treatment of cleft lip in children in rural areas.
He was booked under an FIR under section 120 (B) of IPC, and sections 16, 17, 18, 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in 2010.