Six men in Ahmedabad this month will be celebrating their first year of freedom after spending years in jail. One of them is coming out with a book about his 11 years in a Gujarat jail as a convicted terrorist sentenced to death for his “role” in the 2002 Akshardham attack case, fending off police conspiracies and fabricated evidence.
Gyarah Saal Salakhon Ke Peeche (11 years behind the bars) by Mufti Abdul Qaiyum is scheduled to be launched on May 8.
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He and five others were acquitted by the Supreme Court in the Akshardham case on May 16 last year — coincidentally on the same day the BJP won the Lok Sabha elections under the leadership of Narendra Modi, who was the Gujarat chief minister when they were arrested by the police for their alleged role in the terror attack.
The apex court, while acquitting the six, had pulled up the Gujarat Police for framing them and rebuked the state home minister for “non-application” of mind. The men had been convicted by a lower court and the conviction under the POTA (and the IPC) had been upheld by the Gujarat High Court.
Qaiyum said he had always believed that he would come out of jail. This belief, Qaiyum said, inspired him to write a book even as he was going through custodial torture.
He recounted how he would succumb time and again to the machinations of the Gujarat Police for generating “evidence” that would implicate him under the now repealed anti-terror Act.
“For days, I was made to copy a letter that they had given me till policemen and their experts were satisfied that I had copied the twists and turns of the Urdu letter well enough for it to be passable as evidence in a court of law. They finally used it to get me convicted. I have reproduced xerox copies of that letter in the book,” Qaiyum, on his way to Delhi for the book launch, told The Indian Express.
Qaiyum was so determined to pen down his experiences in the prison and the injustice meted to him that he had even taken care to jot down dates for his book. The others on death penalty, acquitted last year, were Adambhai Ajmeri and Chand Khan.
Mohammed Salim Hanif Sheikh who had been sentenced to life imprisonment, Abdullamiya Yasinmiya who had been sentenced to 10 years in jail and Altaf Malek, who had already served his five-year term, were also cleared by the apex court.
Qaiyum’s book in Urdu, English and Gujarati has been published by the Jamiat Ulema-I-Hind.