A day after Muzaffar Ahmad Rather (28) was sentenced to death by a Kolkata court for waging war against the state, his family in Kulgam said that the verdict came as a bolt out of the blue for them.
Recalling a conversation with his brother Muzaffar, Riyaz Ahmad Rather said that till last month he was hopeful of being released, and had told him to come to Kolkata so that both could return together.
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But when Riyaz, his mother Nafeeza Begum and an uncle reached Kolkata they were sent back. “He told us that the next hearing would be on January 16 and we should come again then,” said Riyaz, adding that a day before they were scheduled to leave again Muzaffar “told me not to come here”. The 29-year-old school teacher said: “He told me that he feels the court wouldn’t let him free”.
On Saturday, Muzaffar, along with two Pakistani nationals Abdullah and Mohammad Younus, was sentenced to death by Bongaon fasttrack court in Kolkata for planning to carry out subversive activities and target defence establishments in Kashmir. Judge Binoy Pathak sentenced the accused under Section 121 (Waging war against the state) and 121A (conspiracy to wage war against the government of India). The three accused, according to police, were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives trained in Pakistan and were arrested in 2007 from India-Bangladesh border while trying to sneak into India.
Recalling how his brother went missing as a 14-year-old in 2002, Riyaz said: “I was studying in Class IX and he was studying in Class VIII. That day he didn’t return home and we searched for him everywhere….When we didn’t find him, we filed a missing report at Kulgam police station….”
For five years, Rathers didn’t have any information about Muzaffar. Then one evening in 2007, the village head came to meet Muzaffar’s father, Abdul Majeed Rather, and told him that police had come to the village asking for the boy. “He told us that police was saying Muzaffar has been arrested…We were allowed to see him and talk to him only from a distance…He told us, he was arrested from West Bengal and that there is nothing to worry and he will soon return home,” said Riyaz.
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