Home after 8 years in Tihar Jail, Bangla sculptor wants a house

Rashid Ahmad, 75, is home. Now he wants, and needs, a house; the comfort of walls and doors that don't shut him in, the comfort he longed for eight years he was in Tihar Jail.

Ahmad, a Bangladeshi sculptor, was arrested in 2004 — for possessing fake Indian currency while he and his daughter-in-law Noor Nahar Lovely were on their way to visit the Ajmer Sharif Dargah in Rajasthan — jailed, and all but forgotten.

But after The Indian Express reported about their plight on July 8 this year — and following several reminders by the Bangladesh High Commission to the Foreign Ministry — the Delhi court hearing their case expedited the trial and, two weeks ago, sentenced them to seven years in jail, a year less than they had already served. They were released Friday night and on Saturday morning, they landed in Dhaka.

"It is the happiest day of my life," Ahmad said over the phone from Dhaka. "I am yet to come to terms with the fact that I have managed to come back home. I will restart making statues, sculptures associated with the liberation war of 1971. I picked up Hindi in jail and also learnt a lot about the Indian culture. I will be using these experiences in my future creations." Some of Ahmad's art is displayed at the Islamic University in Kushtia, Bangladesh.

For now, however, his immediate concern is to get a house; his family lost their house while he was in jail.

"For now we will be living in the house of my sister Rehana who is a school teacher. After things settle down, my father will buy us our own house. For the time being we are happy that he is back," said Ahmad's daughter Lipi Rehman.

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