Aman ki Asha has long been campaigning for clemency towards cross-border prisoners – young boys who stray across by mistake or in search of ‘Bollywood’, fishermen who cross the maritime border, families who have committed minor transgressions, long-term prisoners incarcerated for years on either side. See articles compiled at the link ‘In humanity’s name’, on the website www.amankiasha.com
Since April 4, when Aman ki Asha took up Dr Khaleel Chishty’s case following an appeal from his family, the struggle to release the ailing professor has gained momentum in India
Noted film director Mahesh Bhatt and veteran journalist and former M.P. Kuldip Nayyar met Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil in Chandigarh on April 25, and pleaded for the release of the 80-year-old ailing retired professor on humanitarian grounds who was sentenced to life earlier this year.
Governor Patil assured us that he will sympathetically consider the case, but only after going through its details, Nayyar and Bhatt told reporters later, according to the Press Trust of India.
Patil is also the officiating governor of Rajasthan.
“We told the Governor that India and Pakistan have been exchanging lists of prisoners held in each other’s prisons and have been making good progress in their repatriation,” Bhatt said. He highlighted the case of Gopal Dass, an Indian citizen who had been languishing in Pakistani jails for 27 years and was released recently on humanitarian grounds’.
Though the Governor did not give any definite time frame to us, he assured that it would take at least a month before he will be able to go through the case files… The Constitution of India gives the Governor powers under Article 161 to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment, as well as the power to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of the people convicted. We have appealed to the Governor to exercise this power in the name of humanity, mercy and reciprocity to release Dr Chishty, Nayyar said.
Bhatt said that people both in India and Pakistan want better relations. It is time we should stop de-humanising each other. When the dialogue process between the two countries broke down post Mumbai terror attacks, it is the Civil society on both sides that has been working to ensure that humanitarian causes are taken up, Bhatt added.
Bhatt said: Patil was very considerate and he already knew about this matter. He said that he will try to solve this issue at the earliest on the basis of its merits. Besides our own memorandum, we have also submitted an appeal that was sent by Amna Chishty, Khaleel’s daughter, from Canada.
Nayar and Bhatt had also met union Home Minister P. Chidambaram Sunday to discuss the matter, adds IANS.
PUCL delegation meets Rajasthan Home Secretary: On April 20, a delegation of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) led by Vice President PUCL Dr. Radha Kant Saxena, a national expert on jails, met P. K. Deb, Home Secretary, Government of Rajasthan, and presented him a memo urging him to request the Chief Minister of Rajasthan and his cabinet of Ministers to advise the Governor of Rajasthan to invoke his powers under Article 161 of the Constitution of India and see that Dr Chishty returns to his home in Pakistan alive and as soon as possible”.
“He (Dr Chishty) is presently suffering from multiple ailments, including a cardiac ailment, since he suffered a major stroke in 2008 and then in 2010, when he was on the operation table undergoing a hip operation to join his hip bones which had fractured… His condition is obvious from the fact that after the conviction he was carried by two people to the court and also brought into the Ajmer jail with similar support. His hip joint is completely immobile and therefore he cannot walk on his own. He can barely use a walker,” states the PUCL memo.
“…Dr. Chishty is a fit case for granting of pardon and or remission of sentence. He is a person of impeccable character. We urge you to note his advanced age and his illness and… to use your good offices and request the Chief Minister of Rajasthan and his cabinet of Ministers to advise the Governor of Rajasthan to invoke his powers under Article 161 of the Constitution of India and see that Dr. Chishty returns to his home in Pakistan alive and as soon as possible.”
In an email updating Dr Chisty’s family and those working for his release, PUCL General Secretary Kavita Srivastava wrote that Rajasthan’s Home Secretary was very cooperative and agreed to aid the process to facilitate Dr Chishty”s release. Finally, however, it will be up to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to agree to send the prisoner across. For this purpose, PUCL is also trying to obtain an appointment with Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.