As soon as you enter the three-storey house of 40-year-old Mirza Nisar Hussain in the ‘Nam Chabal’ area of Srinagar, the first thing you notice is the cracks on the walls of the house. These walls seem to tell the story of the tragedy that befell the Mirza family.
23 ago, two sons of his family, including Mirza Nisar, were arrested in connection with two militant attacks.
The year is 1996. Nisar was 16 at the time. Police arrested him in Nepal. He was accused of involvement in bombings in various cities.
After spending 23 years in jail on these charges, he was finally released by the Rajasthan High Court on July 22, 2019. The court dropped all charges against him.
Sitting inside his house in Srinagar, Nisar gets lost in his past 23 years ago. “It’s a long, horrible story,” he says. My brother and my arrest took a lot away from my family, Nisar told BBC urdu.
It was May 23, 1996,” says Nisar. Everything changed for us that day. I went to Nepal to collect money from the buyer of my carpet. The buyer asked for two days. We stopped The next day I was going to the telephone booth with two of my co-workers. Before reaching the telephone booth at Maharaja Ganj intersection, the police came and arrested us.
He adds, “Police showed a photo of a man and asked, ‘Do you know him?’ I said yes. I went to this person the day before for my money. The police took us to Lodhvi Colony in Delhi.
On the same day, Nisar and his brother Mirza Iftikhar Hussain were arrested in Delhi. Recalling the day, Nisar says, “When the Delhi Police interrogated me and confronted my brother in a dark interrogation room, I hugged him and asked him, ‘Are you also arrested?’ Has been done?
Nisar’s elder brother was arrested in connection with a bomb blast in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar area.
Says Iftikhar at his home in Srinagar. “You can’t imagine what happened to us – fighting two cases was not an easy task. We are all over. ‘
In 1996, a horrific bomb blast killed 13 people and injured 38 at a popular market in the popular Lajpat Nagar area of South Delhi.
Nisar and Iftikhar were accused of arranging explosives for the bombing.
Nisar said police took five years to file chargesheets against the two brothers. Nisar and two other Kashmiri youths were sentenced to death by a Delhi court in 2010 after spending 14 years in jail. Mirza Iftikhar and four others were released.
“In 2010, we appealed against the death penalty,” says Iftikhar. In 2012, the Delhi High Court released Nisar and another accused, Muhammad Ali.
Nisar says all 16 witnesses in the court recanted and said they knew nothing about the accused and the case.
Nisar says, “Even though Iftikhar was acquitted of all charges in 2010, he had a huge responsibility to release us. He got a job in Kashmir but had to go to Delhi in connection with the case, which resulted in his job being lost.
Nisar finally reached his home on July 24, 2019. One week after his arrival, the Indian government repealed Article 370, which gave Kashmir special status, after which there was a curfew-like situation for several months. The movement of people was limited, the internet was blocked and the heavy deployment of the army in the entire Kashmir Valley had paralyzed normal life more than before.
This was followed by a lockdown in March of this year to control the Corona epidemic.
Due to two lockdowns in the same year, Nisar could not even recover the scattered pieces of his life.
Nisar, by the way, is now free, but he is both worried and frustrated about the environment around him and his state after his release.
Nisar says, “In the beginning I could not even walk on the road because after being in jail for so long, I forgot to walk on the road. Whenever a motorbike came in front of me, I would run away and stand away. I felt like a motorcycle would trample me
“I shudder and can’t sleep at night when I think about how my mother and my family spent 23 years in my absence,” he said.
Nisar’s mother wants her son to get married and settle down, but it is not easy to start a family without a job.
Nisar has only studied up to eighth grade. The year he was arrested, he dropped out of school and went to Delhi to help his brother in his family’s carpet business.
Nisar was born into a middle-class business family in his area. His father was in the carpet business. His brother did the same business in Delhi and was happy with his business. But now Nisar is having a hard time getting a job.
Nisar says, “After his release from jail, everyone showed sympathy at first, but later, whenever he met people, everyone would ask the same question, what is the plan now? This question bothers me immensely. I feel like I’ve moved from one prison to another. ‘