Victim of false terror charges, Aamir welcomes NHRC decision but says a job is his priority

New Delhi,Amrita Nayak Dutta: When Mohammad Aamir Khan was picked up by the police on a fateful night in February 1998, little did the 18-year-old boy fathom a future where he would lose 14 crucial years of his youth inside the dark prison cells of NCR. It was only a month later that he came to know that he was facing charges of murder, terrorism and waging war against the nation.

More than seventeen years later, when the National Human Rights Commission took note of the case and issued a show cause notice to the Delhi government, asking for reasons why Aamir, should not be paid a monetary relief amount of Rs5 lakh for his wrongful confinement for 14 years as a terrorist, the 35-year-old said he has a glimmer of hope.

“Neither Rs5 lakh or Rs5 crore can get back the time which I have lost. I lost my father during that period and my mother got paralysed after a brain haemorrhage. She passed away last month. Our family was socially boycotted. But, I welcome the decision since it is at least a start,” Aamir told dna.

Aamir was named the main accused in 20 low intensity bomb blasts executed between December 1996 and October 1997 in Delhi, Rohtak, Sonepat and Ghaziabad that claimed five lives. He has been acquitted in 17 cases, including one by the High Court of Delhi.

Recounting the loss of time and dignity during those long years of stay in the dark and dingy prison cell of Delhi’s Tihar jail, he said the police never arrested him, they actually ‘kidnapped’ him.

For nearly a week after that he was subjected to heavy physical torture. “Electric shocks, ripping off my nails and signing on blank papers followed before I was thrown into the prison,” he said.

Aamir said he can’t describe in words how he spent his never-ending hours for years of solitary confinement inside the high-security cell of the prison. “I read autobiographies of great personalities, history and different religions which I realised taught the same things. I didn’t let my hope die, I took energy of the plants I watered,” Aamir said.

Aamir revealed he wasn’t the only innocent serving terms in the jail and during his years in NCR’s jails, he came across several others like him who stayed confined in the prisons for years without a fair trial. In fact, he had lived through phases, where different communities have been arrested en masse.

“When I was imprisoned, there were many Sikh inmates. Then came a phase where there were more of Kashmiris being jailed. That was followed by Indian Muslims who were imprisoned on terror charges,” he said, adding that the authorities should act fast so that the innocents do not suffer the same delayed justice as he did.

In 2012, Aamir stepped out in a changed world which wasn’t even remotely similar to what he last saw. He got associated with social activist Shabnam Hashmi, married a year later and has an 18-month-old daughter.

However, his memories continue to haunt him still as nightmares.

“I find it difficult to remember things. I get frequent nightmares,” Aamir said, mentioning that he still needs psychiatric help.

Aamir, who is unemployed at present, says that more than money, he needs a respectful job at present to support his family.

“I’m willing to complete my studies which I had to leave mid way, it is a job that is a priority for me. I have huge hopes on the present government in Delhi and hope they will not disappoint me,” Aamir said.

He added that AAP MLA from Okhla Amanatullah Khan had raised his case for monetary compensation and a job in the last session of Delhi assembly.