National

A Wife's Appeal For Justice

I am the wife of Mohammad Afzal, the man accused of conspiring to attack the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001 ... I also speak as a Kashmiri woman who is losing faith in Indian democracy and its ability to be fair to Kashmiri Muslims...

A Wife's Appeal For Justice
info_icon

I am the wife of Mohammad Afzal, the man accused of conspiring to attack theIndian Parliament on December 13, 2001. Afzal has been condemned to death by theSessions Court Judge, S N Dhingra and his death sentence has been confirmed bythe Hon'ble High Court of Delhi. Now the case has come up before the Hon'bleSupreme Court of India.

All over India people have condemned the attack on Parliament. And I agreethat it was a terrorist attack and must be condemned. However, it is alsoimportant that the people accused of such a serious crime be given a fair trialand their story be fully heard before they are punished. I believe that no onehas heard my husband's story and he has so far never been represented in thecourt properly.

I appeal to you to hear our story and then decide for yourselves whetherjustice has been done. Afzal and my story is the story of many young Kashmiricouples. Our story represents the tragedy facing our people.

In 1990 Afzal was attracted to the movement led by the JKLF, like thousandsof other youth. He went to Pakistan for training and stayed there for a littlewhile. However, he was disillusioned by the differences between different groupsand he did not support pro-Pakistani groups. He stayed there only three monthswithout getting any training. Afzal returned to Kashmir and he went to Delhi topursue his studies. He always wanted to study and before he joined the movementhe was doing his MBBS.

My husband wanted to return to normal life and with that intention hesurrendered to the BSF. The BSF Commandant refused to give him his certificatetill he had motivated two others to surrender. And Afzal motivated two othermilitants to surrender. He was given a certificate stating that he was asurrendered militant. You will not perhaps realise that it is very difficult tolive as a surrendered militant in Kashmir but he decided to live with his familyin Kashmir. In 1997 he started a small business of medicines and surgicalinstruments in Kashmir. The next year we were married. He was 28 years old and Iwas 18 years.

Throughout the period that we lived in Kashmir the Indian security forcescontinuously harassed Afzal and told him to spy on people they suspected ofbeing militants. One Major Ram Mohan Roy of 22 Rashtriya Rifles tortured Afzaland gave him electric shocks in his private parts. He was humiliated and abused.

The Indian security forces used to regularly take Afzal to their camps andtorture him. They wanted to extract information from him. One night the Indiansecurity forces came to our home and abused all of us and took away Afzal totheir camp; another time he was taken to the STF (State Task Force) campPalhalan Pattan.

Some days later they took him to the Humhama STF camp. In that camp theofficers, DSP Vinay Gupta and DSP Darinder Singh demanded Rs one lakh. We arenot a rich family and we had to sell everything, including the little gold I goton my marriage to save Afzal from the torture.

Afzal was kept in freezing water and petrol was put into his anus. Oneofficer Shanti Singh hanged my husband upside down for hours naked and in thecold. They gave electric shocks in his penis and he had to have treatment fordays.

You will think that Afzal must be involved in some militant activities thatis why the security forces were torturing him to extract information. But youmust understand the situation in Kashmir, every man, woman and child has someinformation on the movement even if they are not involved. By making people intoinformers they turn brother against brother, wife against husband and childrenagainst parents. Afzal wanted to live quietly with his family but the STF wouldnot allow him.

You should also know that the STF force is notorious in Kashmir for extortingmoney from the people and they have become so infamous that when Mufti Sayedbecame the Chief Minister he promised in his election manifesto to disband theentire force. The STF is known for human rights violations including killingpeople in their custody and brutal, senseless, inhuman torture.

It was under these conditions that forced Afzal to leave his home, family andsettle in Delhi. He struggled hard to earn a living and he had decided to bringme and our four-year old son, Ghalib, to Delhi. Like any other family we dreamedof living together peacefully and bringing up our children, giving them a goodeducation and seeing them grow up to be good human beings. That dream was cutshort when once again the STF got hold of my husband in Delhi.

The STF told my husband to bring one man Mohammad to Delhi from Kashmir. Hemet Mohammad and one other man Tariq there at the STF camp. He did not knowanything about the men and he had no idea why he was being asked to do the job.He has told all this to the court but the court chose to believe half hisstatement about bringing Mohammad but not the bit that he was told to do so bythe STF.

There was no one to represent Afzal in the lower court. The court appointed alawyer who never took instructions from Afzal, or cross examined the prosecutionwitnesses. That lawyer was communal and showed his hatred for my husband. Whenmy husband told Judge Dhingra that he did not want that lawyer the judge ignoredhim. In fact my husband went totally undefended in the trial court. When ever myhusband wished to say something the judge would not hear him out and the judgeshowed his communal bias in open court.

Advertisement

In the High Court one human rights lawyer offered to represent Afzal and myhusband accepted. But instead of defending Afzal the lawyer began by asking thecourt not to hang Afzal but to kill him by a lethal injection. My husband neverexpressed any desire to die. He has maintained that he has been entrapped by theSTF. My husband was shocked but he had no way of changing his lawyer while beinglocked up in the high security jail. It was only after the High Court judgementwas pronounced he got to know about the way the lawyer had represented him.Afzal refused to accept the same lawyer for his appeal in the Supreme Court. Ihad no way of getting Afzal a lawyer. I do not know anyone in Delhi. FinallyAfzal wrote to the Defence Committee set up for Mr Geelani. I am annexing hisletter. And the Defence Committee helped Afzal to get a senior lawyer, Mr SushilKumar. However, the Supreme Court cannot go into the evidence and so I do notknow what will happen.

Advertisement

I appeal to you to ensure that my husband is not condemned to death and he isensured a fair trial. Surely your conscience will not allow you to be a party tothe death of a fellow human being who has not been represented in the court andwho has not had a chance to tell his story? The police have made him falselyconfess before the media even before the trial started. They humiliated him,beat him, tortured him and even urinated in his mouth. I feel deep shame to talkabout these things in public but circumstances have forced me. It has taken alot of courage for me to put all this on paper but I do so for the sake of mychild who is now six years old.

Advertisement

Will you speak out at the injustice my husband has faced? Will you speak outon my behalf? I am of course fighting for my husband's life, for the life of myson's father. But I also speak as a Kashmiri woman who is losing faith in Indiandemocracy and its ability to be fair to Kashmiri Muslims.

Tabassum
Srinagar,
September 2004

This article originally appeared in Kashmir Times and is carried hereverbatim without any editing, for the record.

Tags

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement