Two years in jail and a legal battle to clear his name from three cases of robbery and possession of arms ended with 60-year-old Abu Ishaque Howaldar being brought to Delhi on Sunday night by Ambala police.
Acquitted in the robbery cases, the Bangladesh national is now ready to go home.
The Bangladesh High Commission and Howaldar’s lawyers from the Human Rights Law Network are trying to arrange for funds to send him back to his country.
It was skin ailment, says Howaldar, which brought him to India. A farmer, he was hoping to get himself treated for eczema at a Pitampura clinic but landed behind bars very soon.
Howaldar says he came to India for the second time in May 2010 — his first trip was in January the same year. After the treatment, Howaldar decided to visit his brother-in-law in Ambala where he was arrested in June 2010. He was charged with attempted robbery and possession of arms. November 9 this year, he was acquitted of all charges there.
After his arrest in June, Howaldar was handed over to police in Kurukshetra, where he was charged with planning a dacoity. On August 10, 2011, a Kurukshetra court acquitted him of the charge, stating that the prosecution had “miserably failed to prove its case”.
While his trial was on, Howaldar was handed over to Delhi Police, in August 2010, for a robbery committed in East of Kailash in December 2009.
On October 25 this year, the Delhi court acquitted him of the robbery charge but said he was guilty of possession of a pistol.
Howaldar says he was not in India in 2009 and could not, therefore, have had a role in the robbery. He also claims that he had no information about the weapon found in his bag.
He now plans to return to India to “fight” for his reputation.
“I am a simple man. A painful skin problem brought me to India. I have spent nearly three years in jail. Everyone back home thinks I am a criminal. I will return to appeal in a higher court to fight for my honour,” he says.
On Sunday night, after he was brought to Delhi, Howaldar spoke to his family. “I spoke to my two daughters for the first time since I was arrested. It was very emotional. I still cannot believe I am going home. But I am going with a heavy heart,” he says.
Howaldar says his son, who is posted with the Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion, has been at the receiving end of “insults and jibes”.
The Bangladesh High Commission in Delhi had complained twice to the Ministry of External Affairs, stating that Howaldar was implicated since he was not in India when the crimes were said to have taken place.