Srinagar, February 20: A former student of Kashmir University, Bashir Ahmad, in a media interview threw light on how one of his innocent fellows, Muhammad Rafiq Shah, acquitted by a Delhi court after over 11 years of illegal detention, was arrested from the university campus after being falsely implicated in a case of Delhi bomb blasts.
On the morning of October 30, 2005, Bashir Ahmad said, he was about to leave for Kashmir University to attend his MA class of Political Science when he received a telephone call from the family of his best friend, Mohammad Rafiq Shah, also a post-graduate student at the university.
Bashir Ahmad in his interview in Srinagar said, on the phone, Rafiq’s family pleaded with him that he and his friends should not go to university as it might not be good for them.
“I was surprised to hear him say that,” Bashir said of that moment. “But, later, they told me that their house was raided in the night at about 1:00am by a contingent of Indian forces and Rafiq was arrested. The family was told that Rafiq would be released in the morning, but he wasn’t.”
Rafiq was at that time studying in the 4th semester of an MA degree in Islamic Studies at the Shah-e-Hamdan Institute of Islamic Studies of Kashmir University. The news of his arrest sent shock waves through the entire campus. His friends could not understand why a humble and down-to-earth student was arrested in such a manner.
“Within minutes of hearing the news, all of us (Rafiq’s friends) reached the Islamic Studies department. We were all confused and aghast at his arrest,” Bashir recalled.
The KU campus was rocked by student demonstrations against the arrest of Rafiq. The university witnessed three weeks of continuous shutdown after the day of his arrest. Mohammad Rafiq Shah, now 34, a resident of Shuhama Hazratbal, was one of three Kashmiris acquitted by a Delhi Court, after they had spent 12 years in jail, of charges that they played a role in multiple bomb blasts in Delhi ahead of Diwali, killing 67 people.
Bashir said that Rafiq was one of the outstanding students at Islamic Studies department. “He was keen to revive the Kashmir University Students Union (KUSU)..
“After two semesters at the university, we started brain-storming sessions and efforts to gain support from students for reviving the students union. I was impressed with his clear thinking on the occupation of Kashmir by India as well as by his Islamic ideology,” Bashir recalled.
Remembering Rafiq as a man regular in prayers and having sound Islamic knowledge, Bashir said that his friend became an inspiration for him and many other students.
“After 12 years, from where would he start his life now? Twelve golden years of youth he lost for being a Kashmiri,” Bashir said of the injustice done to his friend.
“Rafiq was a common person like you and me. He was just made a scapegoat. It’s no time to celebrate the release of Rafiq but to question whether any of us is safe. For how long will Kashmiris be discriminated against and imprisoned in fabricated cases?” Bashir said.