Her story is a perfect example of determination, courage, grit and a never-ending spirit to fight for justice and now after 30 years of struggle, she finally sees a ray of hope.
For thirty long years, Nirmal Khanna, widow of braveheart IAF Squadron Leader Ravi Khanna, who was killed by Yasin Malik and his associates in 1990, has been fighting a lonely battle against the system and finally she has seen a ray of hope after Jammu and Kashmir High Court gave the permission to reopen the case against Malik.
“It is a very long battle that I have been fighting, cannot sum thirty years of struggle in thirty seconds” Khanna told Republic from her house in Trikuta Nagar locality of Jammu.
It was on the fateful day of January 25, 1990, when Squadron Leader along with 13 other officers and Jawans of the Indian Air force were targeted by Yasin Malik and his associates while they were waiting for the office bus at a bus stop in Rawalpora chowk of Srinagar.
“It was around 7.30 am when my husband along with other officers and Jawans of the Air Force were waiting for their office bus at Rawalpora Chowk, when suddenly Yasin Malik along with other terrorists came and started indiscriminate firing on them” Nirmal Khanna recalled.
Further recalling the incident, Nirmal said that around 14 IAF personnel present at the bus stop were fired upon by Yasin Malik and his associates.
“As my residence was just a few meters away from the bus stop, I heard the noise, initially I thought that someone was bursting crackers, but when I could hear that people had gathered nearby I rushed to the spot to find my husband and others on the ground in a pool of blood” Khanna said.
She said that she could see that her husband was badly injured and he along with others was being shifted to the hospital.
“Mine was a love marriage as I always wanted to marry a man who could serve the nation, Ravi was a perfect choice, but seeing him lying in a pool of blood my whole world was crushed down,” she said.
She said that her husband along with three others IAF personnel succumbed to their injuries while they were being shifted to the hospital; two local women who were also injured as they were also waiting for their bus at the bus stop also lost their life in the attack. According to Nirmal, a case was registered and investigations were taken up. Even so, the successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir came to the rescue of Yasin Malik and supported him.
“For thirty long years a terrorist was saved by the Congress, National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party Government, but as now the High Court has given permission to reopen the case I am finally hopeful to get justice after 30 long years” she said.
Nirmal asserted that she was strongly dejected when a terrorist responsible for killing IAF personnel was hailed as a hero. Moreover, former Prime Minister of India Dr Manmohan Singh shook hands with him.
“The world came crushing upon me when I saw the picture of my Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh shaking hands with the terrorist who killed so many innocent people, but now we have a leader in the country who is keen to deliver justice,” she said.
Earlier in March, the CBI had filed a plea in the Jammu and Kashmir high court seeking to reopen the case and shift the trial to Jammu, a plea that was granted by the high court. Yasin Malik was supposed to appear in the court via teleconferences as he is currently languishing in Tihar Jail in Delhi. However, the judge of the special TADA Court has adjourned the case till October 1 and asked Tihar to make arrangements for Malik to appear before the court.