He is a stranger in his town.
Back home after 12 long years, Mohammad Hussain Fazili is still taking in the changes around him.
Buchpora, his locality, is an unrecognisable maze of lanes. But, for the 43-year-old shawl weaver from Srinagar, the biggest shock is the way his parents have aged.
A stroke has left his mother partially paralysed and his father is battling a heart condition.
Fazili spent 12 years in Delhi’s high-security Tihar Jail and that, too, for doing nothing.
On February 16, Fazili along with Mohammed Rafiq Shah, also from Kashmir, was acquitted in the 2005 Delhi blasts case, the worst terrorist attack on the Capital that left 67 people dead and more than 200 wounded.
“We were accused of something we had not done. Who will return me the lost 12 years of my life? Can anyone undo what my parents have suffered?” Fazili said, sitting with his parents at his home on Sunday morning.
A day earlier, he reached Srinagar on a flight from Delhi.
It is not just the city that has expanded, his family has grown too. When Fazili was arrested he had only one nephew. But, now all his three brothers are fathers – each has two children.
But the relief of being back is tempered with the reality of home.
“My mother is very sick. Like my mother, the mothers of those killed in the blasts, too, have suffered. But does that mean you take away the sons of others and frame them?” Fazili said.
The cold November night of 2005 still haunts him. He had come back from the mosque after evening prayers and was working on a shawl when the knock came.
Rest of the evening was a blur. A police team came and took him away for questioning, saying they wanted information on Delhi blasts. That was the last his parents would see of him for 12 years.
During his years in jail, Fazili didn’t meet his parents even once. There was not enough money.
“The moment my mother saw me walk through the gate, she started screaming with joy. Three people had to hold her back. We were scared she might suffer another stroke,” Fazili said.
“She was telling everyone she felt as if she had given birth to me all over again.”
The years have taken a toll on Fatima.
Her health is poor and she can’t move on her own. “I am very worried about her, her health and treatment,” Fazili said, as he helped her sit up on the bed.
Courtesy: Hindustan Times