Aftab Ahmad Ansari was glued to the TV screen in his 10ftX10ft cell since morning and came to know about the Supreme Court verdict as soon as news channels started airing it around noon.
Jamiluddin Nasir had to wait for hours before jail officers informed him that he was no longer on death row.
Ansari, the prime convict in the 2002 American Center attack case, was “silent yet looking relieved” after the Supreme Court commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment, said sources at Alipore jail.
“Ansari is a man of few words. He flashed a rare smile and said ‘humko maloom hai, hum bahut khush hain (I know….I am very happy)’,” an officer quoted Ansari as saying after a colleague told him about the verdict.
Ansari has been living in a “specially-secured” cell under CCTV surveillance. He is one of the few inmates at Alipore jail who has a television in his cell.
From the CCTV signals, jail officials could make out a “distinct change” in his body language after the verdict was first aired. “He looked relieved…. Till the verdict was announced he could not take his eyes off the TV screen,” said a senior officer.
Nasir could not contain his happiness when officers at Presidency jail informed him around 3pm that the apex court had set aside his death sentence.
“His first reaction was to rush to the phone booth in the jail and call up his wife. When his wife told him that some journalists had visited their house, he told her not to make any comment, except saying that they were very happy. He wants to wait for a copy of the judgment before making any detailed comment,” said a source at Presidency jail.
“It’s all because of Him…. My family had visited Ajmer Sharif and prayed for my life…. God has answered their prayers,” a smiling Nasir said after coming out of the booth.
Nasir’s wife and son were not at home when Metro visited their Tiljala house in the evening. Neighbours said they had shifted elsewhere after Nasir’s arrest.
Nasir told jail officers that he wants to get out on parole. “I have been lodged in jail for 13 years now. I hope I would be treated in the same way as other lifers and let out on parole,” an officer quoted Nasir as saying.
Ansari, on the other hand, made no calls. His family lives in Varanasi. There was no communication from Varanasi till late on Wednesday.
“The family members of neither Ansari nor Nasir had ever come to meet them in jail,” said an official.