The first thing 34-year-old Mohammed Rafiq Shah did after coming out of his court hearing on Thursday was search for his parents.
In a sea of people who had flooded the court, Shah spotted them sitting in a corner, flanked by media persons and police personnel. His mother Mehmooda and father Mohammed Yasin stood up on seeing him.
Somebody from the crowd shouted “Mubarak ho” and “Rafiq”. Shah acknowledged it with a wave, just as a relieved man would.
On Thursday, Shah was acquitted of all charges in the 2005 Delhi serial bomb blast case. Two days ago, Mehmooda and Mohammed Yasin had travelled from Kashmir and come to the capital just for Thursday’s court hearing. They met their son in Tihar Jail on Tuesday.
“Rafiq is my only child. He suffered a lot in the past 12 years as the trial wore on. When we met him on Tuesday, he told us about the upcoming court hearing. All I could do then was pray to god that justice is delivered,” said Mehmooda.
She was anxious before the court hearing began around 4pm on Thursday. She, her husband Mohammed Yasin and a handful of neighbours had arrived early, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shah before he was taken inside the court.
As soon as the verdict was pronounced, the family heaved a sigh of relief. “Our son will finally be reunited with us after 12 agonising years,” Shah’s father Yasin said after the hearing.
Shah’s family hails from Hazaratbal in Kashmir. His parents claimed that Shah was pursuing his MA at Kashmir University when the serial blasts occurred in Delhi in 2005. Police picked him up from his house in November, 2005.
“Rafiq was preparing for his exam when police suddenly came to our house and took him. I will never be able to forget that night. It changed everything. What followed was my son’s struggle for almost 12 years. His life was ruined,” Mehmooda said.
Aman Deep, Shah’s friend, said that whenever family members or friends visited him in jail, he always demanded books to read. Shah also borrowed books from the jail library to read every day.
The family now hopes that Shah will have a normal life. When asked what she would do when he finally comes home, Mehmooda smiled and said, “I will cook all his favourite dishes.”