Verdict very unfair, says family
Prasanna D Zore meets the distraught family of Roshan Khan, who has been convicted in a terror case in Spain.
When Roshan Jamal Khan called his wife Farida at 11 pm on December 16, she hardly expected her husband to break the news that he had been convicted and sentenced for eight-and-a-half years in jail by an anti-terror court in Spain.
Khan, who was arrested on January 18, 2008 from Al-Ziyad mosque in Madrid along with 10 Pakistani men on charges of planning to bomb Barcelona Metro, called his wife every alternate day to enquire about the well-being of his family, which comprises his wife Farida, daughters Saphiya and Mariam and four sons Talha, Huzaifa, Ibrahim and Suleiman.
Every time the 50-year-old Khan would assure his wife that he would soon be out of jail and join his family for Eid. But fate had other ideas. Farida's hopes crashed on Wednesday night when her husband told her about his conviction.
"The material -- allegedly used by the accused to target the Metro-- produced by the prosecution in court could not even damage a small door," says Farida, withholding her tears even as she maintains that the Spanish court has been "very unfair" to her husband.
Roshan Khan's eldest daughter, who's studying in first-year BSc, is in a state of shock.
"I find it very difficult to focus on my studies. My younger brother Talha, too, is disturbed by the turn of events," she says.
Talha is preparing for his Class XII exams next February-March.
The Khan family has been finding it difficult to eke out a living after Roshan Khan, the sole bread-winner, was put behind bars.
"How can you call my husband terrorist based on the deposition of just one witness?" Farida asks. "Isn't that extremely unfair? How will I be able to cope with the upbringing of my young kids?" asks Farida.
Her parents and in-laws help the family pay college and tuition fees.
Image: Roshan Khan's children,Talha and Huzaifa, at his Mumbai home
'Even Kasab gets a free trial'
"It's a managed verdict," says Roshan Khan's younger brother Mehboob Khan, who has been a pillar of support, along with his sister, to the beleaguered family.
He has been pitching for his brother's innocence in New Delhi, pleading help from the capital's power corridors. "Only LK Advani and A R Antulay proved to be of great help," he says.
He says that the Centre and Indian embassy officials in Spain should have followed the case after the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Anti-Terrorist Squad gave a clean chit to his brother.
"But these people don't seem to be interested in safeguarding India's image. The country's image, too, is at stake," he adds.
"They arrested him on the eve of the elections in Spain," says Mehboob.
Roshan was arrested in January 2008 and the elections were in March 2008. "Isn't it obvious that my brother was arrested to gain political mileage just on the eve of an important election?"
Mehboob Khan also believes that the judgment against his brother was harsh and the trial itself was done in a hush-hush manner.
According to him, the trial against all the accused was supposed to start on November 12 and end on 30. "However, it started on November 12 and ended abruptly on November 23, with the judge informing the accused that the verdict will be out in 15 days."
He demands that the evidence produced in the court should be made public so that we will know at least the basis on which the judgment was delivered. He cites the Kasab trial as an example of a free and fair trial.
"If we give such a dreaded terrorist an opportunity to defend him then why isn't the Indian government putting pressure on the Spanish government to at least make the evidence against my brother public? If it's such a secret thing then let them show the evidence to Indian government," he says.
Image: Roshan Khan's brother Mehboob Khan