After 17 years,his first glimpse of his elder brother was from behind bars. Returning home on bail after almost two months in jail on suspicion of terrorism,Syed Liyaqat Shah represents hope for other surrendered militants and those who wait to return home to Jammu and Kashmir after years spent in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
There are at least 15 more men from our village area who had filled the form to return home,all of them were waiting after Liyaqat was arrested. Now they can start returning as well, says Abdul Ghaffar,sarpanch of Dardpora village where Liyaqats family lives. Ghaffar had accompanied Liyaqats elder brother Inayat Shah to Delhi and is acting as the surety for his bail.
The four men,Inayat,his cousin Rashid,Ghaffar and local village committee president Ghulam Ahmad Shaikh,spent most of Friday waiting in the sun for Liyaqats release from Tihar Jail. Confident of his release,the family had booked tickets to return by Jammu Express on Friday night.
Smiling and thanking God,the media and J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in equal measure,Inayat said his family was planning a large celebration to welcome his brother home. My mother,who has remained bedridden since the news of Liyaqats arrest,today sounded happy and healthier on the phone. She had lost her voice in shock when he was arrested,now she is speaking again, he says.
The family has had to sell off some of their land to pay for the three trips to Delhi that he has undertaken since March to see his brother,and Inayat now plans to help his brother get back on his feet financially. He is too weak for farming,so I think I will set up a kirana shop. The government also promised to give job and help to the men who returned under the rehabilitation scheme,lets see what happens now, says Inayat.
Speaking to the media briefly after his release from Tihar,Liyaqat said he didnt know the charges against him till he heard them in court. I thought they were taking me to Jammu when the policemen came up to me at the border. I didnt know they were arresting me till much later, he said. He also expressed his thanks for the NIA and the court. They conducted a fair investigation and the judge sahab was always very kind to me. He has told me that I will have to come to court when they call me again,but I can be happy, says Liyaqat.