23 years ago, he was not even 20, a second year pharmacy student in Karnataka, where the men in khaki arrested him by threatening him with ‘revolver.’ And with that, not only did his life come to an abrupt end, but the subsequent developments left him utterly shattered.
Nisar-ud-din Ahmad would spend the next 23 years in jail on flimsy charges as cops appeared hell-bent in implicating him for train blasts in Kota, Hyderabad, Surat, Kanpur and Mumbai in the intervening night of December 5-6, 1993, on the first anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition.
After 23 years of legal fight, the Supreme Court finally paved the way for his release last week.
In the period that Nisar spent in jail his entire life got uprooted.
Speaking to Indian Express, Nisar narrated his gut-wrenching story, “I was yet to be 20 years old when they threw me in jail. I am 43 today. My younger sister was 12 when I saw her last. Her daughter is 12 now. My niece was a year old. She is already married. My cousin was two years younger than me, she is now a grandmother. A generation has completely skipped from my life .
“Our father Noor-ud-din Ahmad left everything to fight a lonely battle to prove our innocence. He didn’t see any hope until he died in 2006. Now there is nothing left. Nobody can imagine what it means to a family whose two young sons are jailed.”
Zaheer, too, was handed out life imprisonment but was released on bail on 9 May, 2008 by the Supreme Court on health grounds as he was diagnosed with lung cancer in jail.
While out of jail on bail, Zaheer made it his mission to get his brother the justice that had eluded him.
He said, “I followed the case with singular focus. I kept on making applications to court saying how we have been wronged. Finally, the Supreme Court gave a verdict exonerating both of us and two others.”
According to the report, the only evidence police produced was their alleged custodial confessions. The cops invoked the provisions of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) to make these admissible. These alleged confessions of Nisar, Zaheer and Yusuf, as per court records, were taken by Hyderabad Police officers at Abid Road Police station.
In May, 1996, the Metropolitan Sessions Judge in Hyderabad, revoked the provisions of TADA from the case. The Andhra government challenged this order in Supreme Court, which too slammed the cops by saying that the use of TADA was “very casual” issuing notice to the Police Commissioner of Hyderabad, to show cause why “adverse remarks against him be not made.”
It took five years for the AP government to seek withdrawals of appeal thereby rendering the invocation of TADA against Nisar and others invalid. The trial court in Hyderabad acquitted all accused in 2007.
But his ordeal was far from over. While TADA was dropped and custodial confessions were not accepted, the same confessions were used to charge Nisar and his brother in Ajmer.
The TADA court of Ajmer convicted Nisar his brother Zaheer and others sentencing them to life imprisonment.
They approached Supreme Court challenging the TADA court’s order. The bench of Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit felt that the confessions were without any “legal sanction and cannot be relied upon.”
Nisar said that he and others were framed adding that “I am thankful to Supreme Court to give my freedom back. But who will give my life back?”
(Photo of Nisar: Indian Express)