"I don't have any words to describe our plight in the last nine years. My Ammi (mother) says if Islam allows suicide she would like to end her life," says Saeed Omerjee, son of Maulvi Omerjee, one of the main accused in the Godhra train burning case.
The judgement of the case dealing with the burning of the compartments of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra station on February 27, 2002, will be delivered on Tuesday by the special court in Ahmedabad.
Maulvi Hussein Omerjee and his family have denied all the charges vociferously. Some aspects of their case have been fought in the Supreme Court by some of the country's top lawyers like Harish Salve and Rajeev Dhawan.
While talking on eve of the much anticipated verdict, Omerjee says he won't sleep the night. His father, 63-year-old Maulvi Hussain Omerjee was arrested on February 6, 2003 on charges of conspiring to burn the train at Godhra. Maulvi Omerjee is one of the prime accused along with Razak Kurkur.
Omerjee suffers from acute arthritis and erratic blood pressure.
According to the prosecution, Omerjee was present at the meeting of conspirators a day before the horrific incident took place. His arrest followed, when the police stumbled upon Zabbir bin Yamin Behera who spoke of a meeting where one of the accused Farooq Bhana talked about Omerjee indirectly.
Saeed Omerjee reacts strongly, "The entire problem has started because of this allegation which is absolutely without any evidence. This is my family's problem. Please read the confessional statement of witness Behera, who has already backtracked from it in the POTA court."
Behera has alleged that he was coerced into making the statement against Omerjee.
The Prevention of Terrorist Activities act was invoked in the case after Behera's alleged disclosure that the Godhra conspiracy was hatched at the Aman Guest House near the Godhra station the night before the burning. It was Behera who named Omerjee, who was organising riot relief work in Godhra, as the brain behind the conspiracy.
Omerjee has been given bail three times, so far, to attend marriages in the family.
"No question of sleeping tonight. How can anyone go to sleep? I have only one thing to say what we have suffered, in particular my family has, let no one suffer like us."
"All these years, since his arrest we are living between hope and despair. We are expecting justice," says Saeed, who like all members of the accused's family, have high hopes from the court of law. He says when his father came home from Sabarmati jail he advised his children to "be careful before you help others. Don't let people misjudge you for your charity. I have done no wrong but the definition of humanity has changed, so, I am arrested for helping people and now I am facing charges."
Behera has told the court in his confessional statement that on February 26, he was sitting at his tea stall when two persons came looking for him. Along with them, Behera went to see Razak Kurkur at Aman Guest House near the station where Razak told everyone that they should help collect petrol.
Behera and others collected petrol and then Salim Paanwala, another accused, went to check the timing of the Sabramati Express. At that time, Farooq Bhana came to hotel, where Behera was present. Farooq told people gathered over that they ( Farooq and few others) have met the Maulvi and he has instructed to burn the Sabaramati Express.
Saeed alleges that Behera's testimony was extremely weak. Saeed told rediff.com, " My father (Maulvi) wasn't present at the Aman Guest house. Nowhere else has his presence has been noted. Not even when the train was burnt. The Gujarat police has no evidence whatsoever against my father. There is not single corroborative evidence against him. Farooq Bhana, who implicated my father, is absconding."
When asked why the police would zero in on a Maulvi from Godhra, Saeed says, "When Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee came to Godhra, my father went to give him a memorandum. The PM asked my father, What's written inside? Chief Minister Narendra Modi was present alongside the PM. My father, pointing towards Modi, told the PM, Ask him, it's all about his wrongdoings. Modi was furious.His eyes turned red. His power was at it's peak during those days when the law books was kept aside in governing Gujarat. My father became target from that day."
Saeed says, "My father is innocent but he is in jail. We hope tomorrow he will return home. We believe the Godhra incident was an accident. My father has condemned the deaths of all victims of Sabarmati train. I must add that all these years secular Hindus have fought his case, helped him in his battle for honour and has provided us moral support that we badly needed."