In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, all the charges pressed against Bashir Ahmed Baba by the Indian police proved to be false and it took the Indian courts 12 years to come to that conclusion.
During his 12-year long illegal detention in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Bashir Ahmed Baba often missed the streets and bylanes of Srinagar’s Rainawari neighbourhood, the place where he was raised.
He would dream of returning home one day and walking down his favourite childhood streets as a free man.
Now 44-year-old Baba finds himself in a place he barely recognizes. He talks, almost complains of traffic jams, haphazard building constructions, new roads and flyovers that have come up in his absence across Kashmir. But one thing that he doesn’t talk much about is his time in prison.
Last week he was cleared of all charges includ-ing the controversial Unlawful Activities (Preven-tion) Act (UAPA).
“I spent 12 years in prison because I was ac-cused falsely of a crime I didn’t commit. But this too must be a test from Allah or maybe even better. Maybe I was meant to go through something even more terrible.
Maybe I would have met an accident and spent the next 12 years in a comma. Who knows, maybe this was Allah’s way to protect me,” Baba told media while sitting beside his ageing mother at his home.
In February 2010, Baba, then a 32-year-old, left his home to attend a training workshop that was arranged for him by his employer, a German non-governmental organisation that ran a project in India for the medical support of children in rural areas.
The venue for the training was Gujarat, the home state of incumbent Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who at that time led the state as a chief minis-ter.
Baba was supposed to return home in two weeks. But six days into his training the anti-terrorism squad or ATS of the Gujarat police picked him and his colleague from their dorm room in Ah-medabad, the capital of Gujarat.
According to Baba, between February 27 and March 13, the ATS kept him under detention and interrogated him until they pressed charges against him.
India’s reputed media organisations ran stories about Baba, portraying him as a terrorist who had set out to recruit Muslim men in Gujarat.
Quoting unnamed sources, the Indian media also branded Baba as the “Pepsi bomber” for his supposed skill to make explosives in soft drink cans.ago when the Kashmiris intensified their struggle for securing their inalienable right to self-determination in 1989.—KMS