Received an email this morning from Amna Chishty in Canada, copied to various people working to secure the release of her father, the aged Pakistani professor Dr Khalil Chishty, a prisoner in India for over 19 years, currently in Ajmer Prison hospital (report in The Hindu April 15, editorial in The News on April 13). She expresses her family’s gratitude for the continued efforts to help Dr Chishty and bring his case to the forefront and stresses the following points that need to be highlighted in the media:
1. My father has a PhD in Virology from Edinburgh University , U.K. He has had an illustrious career as a professor of virology and when he retired in the late 80’s his last post was Director of Public Health at the King Abdul Aziz Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
2. This whole ordeal leading to my father being charged happened simply because he was present at the wrong place at the wrong time and we firmly believe that the FIR against him contained misleading facts, however throughout the 19 years of his trial he did not have an independent lawyer and since the lawyer he shared with his nephews failed to adequately represent him and prove his innocence, he is where he is today.
3. This is a fact that no one from either side, besides my father was interested in ending this case for fears of incarceration that is why it went on for 19 years with everyone out on bail enjoying normal lives and lawyers using delaying tactics to serve personal interests on both sides, leaving my father to suffer without an end in sight.
4. The case would still be going on if I had not started writing to Indian authorities last year in a desperate attempt to get help and mercy. In the end I think it was my letter to either the Chief Justice of India, Chief Justice of Rajasthan or to the law minister Dr. Veerapa Moily that prompted an inquiry that led to the end of this case. In this regard I am very grateful that they took action on my letter.
5. Most importantly 19 years have passed and now my father is at the end of his road and he does not have time, I am more concerned now after reading Kavita ji’s assessment after she met him on Thursday as reported in the Hindu newspaper article: “It is so tragic. I fear Dr. Chisti may not come out alive if he continues in the jail. He is immobilised and someone has to carry him to the bathroom. He has fractured his left hip and is also showing symptoms of palsy,” Ms. Srivastava, one of the signatories of an appeal for amnesty, made to President Pratibha Patil, told The Hindu. The other signatories are senior journalist Kuldip Nayar, the former Navy Chief, Admiral L. Ramdas, journalist Jatin Desai and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.
Please feel free to forward to anyone who maybe interested , they can also contact me at 416-356-9708 for any additional information. Keeping hope alive.