Two Srinagar families celebrate, silently

Thursday

Three years ago, the Mirza family in Fateh Kadal, Srinagar, had a quiet celebration when the elder son of the family, Ifthikar Hussein, was released in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar blast case. But the joy was muted as Ifthikar's younger brother Mirza Nisar Hussain had been given death penalty in the same case.

On Thursday, when the Delhi High Court announced the acquittal of Nisar, his mother Padshah Begum (65) could not stop her tears. She had been glued to the television set since the morning, after their lawyer called in on Wednesday night to inform about the "crucial hearing" in her son's case.

"For us this is the moment of joy,'' Padshah says. "From Day 1, we that he (Nisar) is innocent. Today his acquittal by Delhi court has proved us right.''

She recounts a long and emotionally draining legal battle to get back her two sons, "against whom cases were fabricated".

"My husband passed away in early 1995, the next year my two sons were detained without any reason. My younger son discontinued his studies and started working at a private school to keep the family kitchen alive and fight the legal battle,'' she says.

Nisar's younger sister, Nighat Akthar, says her brother was only 16 years old when he was picked up by the police in Delhi, where he had gone to help his brother in his business of Kashmiri shawls. "Today, he is 32. He has spent half his life in jail," she says.

Now, the family is hoping that Nisar will also be acquitted in the case filed against him in Jaipur. "He never visited Jaipur, still case was fabricated against him," Nighat says.

Three kilometers from the Mirza house, in Hasnabad, another family is silently celebrates the acquittal of their son Ali Mohammad Bhatt.

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