Uttar Pradesh: There is a common phrase that it is dangerous to fall in love.
But being a young man gaining his adulthood in Rampur, Northern India, Mohammad Javed never at one time thought he would be branded a terrorist and jailed for eleven and half years as a result of loving a Pakistani relative.
Two years after he was cleared by the court of his charges, he got the courage to speak out his story with BBC, showing the love letters that he had exchanged the abduction as well as the long years that he spent he jail. Perhaps the heartbreaking part is him losing his love.
The 33-years old path crossed path with that of Mobina for the first time in 1999 when he escorted his mother to go and meet with her uncles and cousins who had migrated to Pakistan due to India partition in 1947. For the two, love formed at first site.
Javed said that “We were at a family wedding where there were other young women and I think she felt insecure. She took me aside and told me that I was not to look at any other girl since she was in love with me. I told her I felt the same way.”
In the three months that Javed spent in Karachi, their love for each other grew.
“She would leave home in the morning telling her family that she was going to college. I would meet her outside the college gate, and we would go and hang out in Sipari Park,” he said.
After going back to India, the television mechanic would use most of his salary to speak to speak to her.
Back to Karachi
When one year passed, Javedi traveled back to Karachi where he spent two months.
At this time, the families of the two couple were aware of how they felt for each other and no one objected. Only one problem existed. Javedi’s family wanted them to move to India while Mobina’s parents wanted them to stay in Pakistan.
“This time as I prepared to leave, she said, ‘You go, I will convince my family and then you come back and take me with you.’ I didn’t know that when I left, I would never return. That I would never see her again,” he says, wistfully.
In the two years that followed, Mobina and Javed spoke via the telephone constantly. They also wrote long love letters to each other.
“Her letter was 10 pages long. I wrote her a 12-page letter. It took me 12 days to write it,” he says.
One day changed everything for Mr. Mohammad’s son.
“I still remember the day very clearly,” says Javed. “It was 10 August 2002. It was a Saturday. I was in my shop when a man came and asked me to go with him and fix his television. I told him I didn’t do house calls, but he seemed quite distraught, so I agreed.”
When they had gone just a few meters from the shop, a car pulled up and he was abducted.
At first time he thought the guys abducting him were criminals but from their conversation, he could tell they are police officers.
The officers tortured him while still in the car and even threatened that they would shoot him if he did not keep quiet.
“I was crying, begging them for mercy.”
Branded a terrorist
Javed was accused that he belonged to Pakistan’s ISI and that he was spying in the country.
A day after his arrest, three of his friends were also arrested and paraded before journalist that they are “terrorists” who were “waging war” against India.
The authorities said that Javed visited Pakistan on two occasions so as to meet with his ISI contacts.
They were charged a month later under The Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota), a controversial anti-terror law.
What that meant is that they could not be bailed out. This demoralized them since there was the possibility of them getting a death penalty.
Javed faced tough moments in jail when there was a family wedding or when his father’s leg fractured and he was unable to visit.
He also lost his best friends who blamed him that he had given their names to the police.
But what kept him sane was the memory of love.
His parents also had tough moments. Javed’s mother blames herself for the misfortune that befell her son.
“If I hadn’t insisted on going to visit my relatives in Karachi, maybe he would have been spared the ordeal,” she tells a BBC correspondent, wiping away tears.
His father also sold family land and jewels so as to get sufficient funds to hire good lawyers.
Does he still love her?
Javed was freed from jail on 19th January 2014.
“When I walked out of jail, for a while it was difficult to believe that I was really free,” he says, adding, “but one-third of my life, which was the most important time of my life, my entire 20s, was taken away from me.”
For the two years that have passed, Javed is trying to rebuild his life. he repairs old TVs but what angers him is that he has never been compensated for the time wasted.
When asked whether he would still like to get in touch with Mobina, he says:
“I have managed to expel her from my head, but not from my heart. I still love her, but I’m afraid to call her. What happens if they go after me or my family again?”
The one thing that remains is that the two formed an India-Pakistan love story that remained a challenge.