Gulab Khan, a 48-year-old Muslim walked out of the Bareilly Central Jail on Saturday after spending nearly 12 years in prison as an undertrial in the Rampur terror attack case of January 2008.
Gulab Khan, a resident of Bareilly was falsely accused of his involvement in the terror attack but was acquitted on Friday by a Rampur court. Along with Gulab Khan, Muhammad Kausar, a resident of Pratapgarh, falsely accused of hiding the weapons used in the attack, was acquitted.
Gulab Khan said he wasn’t even told the reason for his arrest by the anti-terrorist squad (ATS) for three months after he was held. “I was 30 when the ATS picked me up. I am 42 now,” he said.
“I had no connection with the terror attack but I was still framed. When I was arrested in this case, I thought that my life and also of my family had been destroyed. The thought of being framed in a terror case was scary. Over the years, I had severe anxiety pangs and thought that I might die of heart attack. When I stepped outside jail, I thanked God. It feels good to breathe in open air. I will start afresh.” Gulab Khan told Times of India.
“Now, the court has acquitted me in this case and I would request the government to help me and my family on humanitarian grounds so that we can lead a dignified life,” He told TOI.
Gulab Khan was awarded a warm welcome at his hometown by relatives and friends.
A court in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur on Saturday sentenced to death four out of the six men convicted in the same case. Of the remaining two convicts, one was sentenced to a life term and the other to 10 years in prison.
Soon after the verdict, Defence lawyer MS Khan said he was relieved that Gulab Khan and Kausar Farooqi had been acquitted. “Fahim Ansari (one of the convicted) has also been acquitted of the serious charge. We will appeal against the verdict in the high court because the prosecution has not been able to establish their links with each other or with the Lashkar-e-Taiba,” he said.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimee (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi said on Sunday that Muslims are incarcerated in the terror-related cases “only to be acquitted” later on.
Taking to Twitter, Asaduddin Owaisi said that Muslims are being discriminated against in the criminal justice system regardless of the party in power.
“Muslims are incarcerated in terror cases only to be acquitted after decades. We experience systemic discrimination in the criminal justice system regardless of the party in power. The double injustice here is not only to Gulab Khan but also to the victims of Rampur attack,” Asaduddin Owaisi said.
Owaisi also asked if Gulab Khan would be compensated for the “indignity he had to endure for 12 years. “Who were the real culprits? Will Gulab Khan be compensated for the indignity that he & his family had to endure?” Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted.