Friday, the 19th day of the holy month of Ramzan, brought good news for the families of the 12 convicted under the repealed Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) in the twin blasts case of 1993, carried out in Surat reportedly to avenge the Babri Masjid demolition. The Supreme Court acquitted all of them after nearly 12 years of imprisonment. They received the news with joy, shock and relief.
One of those freed on Friday is former Gujarat minister in the Congress government, Mohammad Surti. Two of the convicts — Iqbal Wadiwala and Ehsaan Patel — died in prison. Four, who have completed their terms, are: Salim Patel, Aziz Patel, Saeed Nari and Aijaz Patel. The rest five are expected to be freed by Tuesday next week. Another accused, Faruk, is absconding.
They were all serving sentences ranging from seven to 20 years in Surat district Central Jail at Lajpore under TADA. The ones still in jail are Mustaq Patel (50), Mohammed Surti (78), Hussain Ghadiyali (75), Yusuf Nalband (54) and Salim Memon (51).
Like every morning, Amena (71), wife of Mohammed Surti, was sitting near the window on the first floor of their two-storey home — Amin Manzil — in Rampura area of Surat, reciting the Quran. It was then that her youngest son, 29-year old Amin, informed her about Mohammed Surti being acquitted by the Supreme Court. Amena cried and kissed Amin on the forehead. Within no time, their home was flooded with well-wishers.
Surti’s eldest son, Faruk, was also wanted in this case and is still absconding. His remaining three children include Zulekha, who is married and settled in London, and Ruksana, married and settled in Surat. Amin, who is also married, takes care of his mother.
Talking to The Indian Express, Amena Surti said, “I have not seen my husband for a long time. My eyes remain glued to the main door of our house in the hope that he will walk in. Now, the time has come and he will surely return. Earlier, people used to throng my home, waiting on the ground floor to meet my husband, seeking help on several issues. After he went to jail, nobody came and people even spurned us when we approached for help. The pain we have experienced is unbearable and we thank the Almighty God that my husband would be back home soon.”
Amin says their lawyer in the apex court broke the news to him on Friday morning. “Most probably, my dad will come home on Tuesday. We have informed my sisters and well-wishers. This time, we have planned that on Eid, we will invite all our family members, relatives and friends. We have also planned to visit Saudi Arabia. There has been no celebrations in our home for all these years. Even our marriages were solemn affairs, with no procession or music.” Surti has served nearly 12 years of his continued…