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Kashmiri Man Acquitted Of False Terrorism Charges After 23 Years Breaks Down In Front Of His Parents’ Grave

The six men acquitted by Rajasthan HC in connection with the Samleti blast case on Monday have lost a lot in the past two and a half decades.

The first time 48-year-old Mohammed Ali Bhatt got to visit his parents in 23 years was at their grave. He spent almost two-and-a-half decades of his life in jail during which he lost his parents, and of course, his youth. He broke down and lay in front of the grave, the moment he arrived in Srinagar. Bhatt was one of the many incarcerated in connection with the Samleti blast case.

On May 22, 1996, 14 people were killed and 37 injured in the blast on a bus on the Jaipur-Agra Highway. The bus was travelling from Agra to Bikaner. The Rajasthan High Court on July 22 acquitted Bhatt along with five others — Latif Ahmed Baja (42), Mirza Nisar (39), Abdul Goni (57), Rayees Beg (56) and Javed Khan — who were imprisoned for life in connection with the 23-year-old bomb blast.

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The Court said the prosecution had failed to provide evidence of a conspiracy. It said the prosecution could not establish any link between them and the main accused, Dr Abdul Hameed, whose death sentence was upheld.

The charge sheet, reportedly, said that the men were associated with the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front and claimed some of them were also involved in the Sawai Man Singh Stadium blast in Jaipur in 1996. Speaking to Indian Express, 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.”

As per the report, Bhatt, who had a carpet business in Srinagar, was imprisoned sometime between June 17, 1996, and July 27, 1996. Following the arrests, the six men have been lodged in jails in Delhi and Ahmedabad and were never released on parole or bail.

Bhatt isn’t the only one who has lost a whole lot. Beg, who lost his mother, father and two uncles while he was locked away, asks, “We have been acquitted, but who will bring back those years?”

However, it’s not just family, business and freedom that they all lost. They lost a huge chunk of their lives and their youth. Now, middle-aged men, they have to adjust and live in a world that has changed beyond their recognition. Goni, speaking to Express says, “We have no idea about the world we are stepping into.”

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