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To defend innocents, nephew of blast accused wants to become lawyer

Friday March 04, 2011 11:01:16 PM, Aleem Faizee,

Afzal Nawaz Jameel Ahmed (centre) speaks to as his grandfather (to his left) looks on

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Malegaon: He would probably have become a Chartered Accountant earning fabulously and living in style. But he chose not to and instead decided to become a lawyer to defend innocents who are arrested in blast and other such cases.

Afzal Nawaz Jameel Ahmed, 23, was preparing for his +10 exams when his uncle, Shabbir Ahmed Masihullah, was arrested in the Malegaon blast case in 2006. The life for him was full of fun and excitement. Belonging to a family doing comfortably well with his ancestor’s textile business, Afzal wanted to become a Chartered Accountant (CA) to help his family and others in accounts. That the town had only few Muslim CAs, was probably the factor that encouraged him to choose the career. Things however took a tragic and unexpected turn when one morning the family was informed that Shabbir was detained by the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS).

“Shabbir used to live with his wife and small children in a separate house nearby till he was picked up in August 2006 by the Mumbai ATS. The ATS arrested him from his house late in the night. We came to know about his arrest only in the following morning”, recalls Afzal’s father and Shabbir’s elder brother Jameel Masihulla.

That one night changed every thing for the family and so for Afzal. Till then, he was dreaming for a bright future but was now left to undergo the trauma, awe and sufferings the family had never imagined.

“After his arrest, my father knocked at every door… but no lawyer was ready to take my uncle’s case. He would go with hope everyday but saddened he would return. No one was ready to believe that my uncle was innocent and wrongly framed in the case. For them, his was a very weak case to defend”, Afzal recalled.

India is perhaps the only case in India where the advocate associations at some places openly declared that they would not fight for the blast accused and boycott those who would do this.

“For us, it became very difficult to bear this entire trauma. On one hand, we were harassed by the police, who would come to our house everyday at odd hours for questioning, and on the other, we were unable to hire a lawyer to prove our innocence”, he said to

“It was then that I changed my mind, dumped CA study in the middle and decided to become a lawyer”, he added even as his eyes were clearly of suggestive of losing something very valuable.

“No, there was no pressure from any one in my family. It was the silent sufferings of mainly my father and his wandering from one place to another for legal assistance that forced me to change my mind”, he replied to a query.

A series of blasts struck Malegaon on September 08 in 2006, on the day of Shab-e-Barat, a Muslim festival when thousands of people were busy offering Friday prayers at the Hamidia Masjid. Another blast occurred at nearby Mushawerat chowk few minutes later. 32 people had been killed and more than 300 were injured in the blasts, most of them being children.

As was the customary for the investigating agencies during those days, the blast was immediately blamed on Muslim youths. Later on, police arrested nine Muslim youths accusing them of planning the blasts.

Strangely, one of the accused, who has been chargesheeted as one of the planters, was some 600 kms away from Malegaon at the time of blast. Shabbir Masihullah himself was in the police custody in Mumbai at that time. He was detained by the police in August 2006 in Mumbai train blast. The police, however, later chargesheeted him in the Malegaon blast case for hatching the terror conspiracy.

The case took an unexpected turn after Swami Aseemanand, the prime accused arrested in various blast cases that occurred in India, admitted in his confession made before a magistrate that the Muslim youths arrested in 2006 blast case were not guilty.

A second year student of law now, Afzal believes that the confessional statement of Swami Aseemanand would help his uncle clear all charges against him and he would come out of the jail very soon.

“Swami Aseemanand’s confession has vindicated our stand and I am quite hopeful that my uncle will be released very soon. But I am firm on my decision to become a lawyer. For, there are still many others, who are suffering like us and need legal help”, he said in a tone, which was testimony of the faith the Muslims in Malegaon have in the rule of law and a clear indication that they are in no mood to give up the battle for justice.





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