With verdict in 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case expected today, a victim and an ex-accused revisit bitter memories
Abdul Rahman Khan’s body was given the final ghusl (wash) before it was taken to Mecca Masjid for the salatul janaaza (funeral prayers) scheduled after the Friday prayers. His grandson, Riyaz Khan, among others, carried the body on his shoulders to the mosque. Then, an IED explosion ripped through the historic structure.
By the end of the day, Riyaz carried on his shoulders two more lifeless bodies – that of his father and brother-in-law. That day was May 18, 2007.
Riyaz is a resident of Mohajirin Camp, a settlement of migrants who came to the city from Marathwada region and areas of Karnataka to escape the aftermath of the Partition in the late 1940s. And a day before a special court pronounces its verdict in the blast case, Riyaz sits at a dargah in Medak where he has gone to pray.
“How can I forget what happened that day? After the blast, I was carrying people to ambulances and a mohalla waala rushed towards me and said that bodies of my father Yusuf Khan and brother-in-law Shafiq-ur-Rahman were found. Abbawas half burned. My brother-in-law’s stomach had a huge cavity. My knees buckled,” he reminisces.
Riyaz hopes that after 11 years the verdict will give his family much needed closure.
A week after the blast, the police came looking for Syed Imran, who was just about 21 then. They later said that he had received training in Pakistan. “I had barely travelled out of Andhra Pradesh. How and why would I go to Pakistan? They said we conspired against the country. Truth is they conspired against us,” Imran says.
Even after many years, the stigma stayed with him like his shadow. He was looked at with suspicion and friends abandoned him, even after the acquittal in the two cases which he says were foisted on him. “Police would show up at the office in the name of routine checks. I was asked to leave four jobs. Even after 11 years, whenever I close my eyes, I am reminded of those days; the torture was unbearable,” he says.
Imran studied engineering in computer science. Then identified as Accused 13 in the case, he says, “I was not able to work as an engineer because the forced cases would come back to haunt me. The strangest thing is that don’t even know who the other accused were. I don’t even know why my name came up.”