OVER a week back, a 25-year-old youth from Srinagar travelled to Mumbai and “surrendered” before the Mumbai Police Special Branch, claiming that he was involved in the July 10 blast in Pune. He told them he was a former militant and offered to help with the probe, if they paid him. His native accent seemed to work in his favour.
But his interrogation, and subsequent investigations, revealed that Bashir Ahmad Goglu, 25, was simply a shawl seller, burdened by debt and a crippled livelihood due to frequent and unforeseen strikes called by separatists in Jammu & Kashmir and curfews imposed by the administration. He saw life behind bars as his “only option” and a “better escape”.
At his home in Hamzah Colony, in Bemina area of Srinagar, his wife, Lovely, and her mother, were informed about his arrest by the Mumbai Police. There was another call — from a lawyer who wanted Rs 10,000 transferred to his account to fight Goglu’s case.
Lovely can’t understand the sudden turn of events. She says her husband sold shawls for a living. She last saw him on July 1, when he made his annual trip to New Delhi to pick up new stock. “When he left, he gave me Rs 1,000, saying he would return in four days,” she says. “When he called me later, I told him that we have to pay the house rent. I asked him when he was returning. He said he would be home the next day.”
But Goglu did not return to the Valley. Instead, he went to the Mumbai Police Special Branch office on July 17, where he told Additional Commissioner Chhagan Wakade that he and his associates had carried out the Pune blast in which five people were injured. However, a background check did not reveal any suggested terrorist links. Goglu was also unable to answer any questions about the blast.
Goglu later revealed that he was an orphan, and preferred to stay in jail as he was burdened by debts and was unable to provide for his family. Police sources say he earned about Rs 160 per day, selling shawls at Lal Chowk, Srinagar. While his wife had recently given birth to a baby girl, Goglu also had the responsibility of his stepsister.
According to sources, Goglu struggled to pay the monthly rent of Rs 2,500. “He had accumulated loans of Rs 1.2 lakh and had