Pawns and prisoners of manufactured hatred

Screenshot of Sanaullah from a TV report last year, on Indian and Pakistani prisoners participating in a kite-flying festival together. "It's really nice, I feel like a child myself," Sanaullah told the reporter.

Screenshot of Sanaullah from a TV report last year, on Indian and Pakistani prisoners participating in a kite-flying festival together. “It’s really nice, I feel like a child myself,” Sanaullah told the reporter.

Tragically, Sanaullah, the Pakistani prisoner whom a fellow inmate had attacked in prison in Jammu in Indian administered Kashmir on May 3, finally succumbed to his injuries on May 9. The attack took place on the day of the funeral of Sarabjit Singh, the high profile Indian prisoner who died on May 3, after being in a coma following an attack by fellow inmates in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore on April 26 – ironically, the day that Indian members of the India Pakistan Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners landed in Pakistan to inspect jails and meet Indian prisoners. The Committee’s recommendations have been made public, and if implemented, will go a long way towards alleviating the plight of cross-border prisoners.

Here’s a link to the note I wrote, published in the weekly Aman ki Asha page in The News last week – Condemnable attack on unarmed prisoner. A followup note regarding Sanaullah was published in the AKA page of May 8. I sincerely hope this is the end of the series. (If you’re on facebook, feel free to ‘like’ the AKA page and join the AKA group - both managed on a voluntary basis) Continue reading

You know it’s India-Pakistan when… (The sad case of Idrees Alam, ‘The Nowhere Man’)

Kanpur: Idrees (left) shares a laugh with K. M. Yadav of IPFSA...but...

Kanpur: Idrees (left) shares a laugh with K. M. Yadav of IPFSA…but…

My article in Aman ki Asha today, re-posted here with links and more photos/documents. I’ve since been informed that Idrees is living in the compound of Police Administration (Police Line), Kanpur, under constant surveillance by two officers. He last communicated with his family over a year ago. 

You know it’s India-Pakistan when… overstaying a 15-day visa after a family tragedy leads to ten years in prison and a man’s continued 13-year separation from his wife and four sons .

Idris Alam - Mahesh Pandey

…but his eyes reflect the bleakness of his existence without hope, without family. Photos: Mahesh Pandey

By Beena Sarwar

The case of Mohammad Idrees Alam is a prime example of how people suffer due to the bureaucratic wrangling between India and Pakistan.

Stuck in India, he has been unable to meet his wife and four children in Pakistan for the last 13 years. Pakistan and India both refuse to verify his citizenship. He is, as the BBC termed it in a radio report of Oct 22, 2012, ‘The Nowhere Man’.

Originally an Indian citizen, he went to Pakistan in 1986 to visit relatives. While there, he got married and opted to stay on, obtaining Pakistani citizenship. In 1999, his father Ahmed Jan in Kanpur became seriously ill and in May, Idrees went to India on a 15-day visa. His father passed away, and Idrees, embroiled in last rites and legalities, overstayed his visa by a couple of months.
Continue reading

Indian Supreme Court acquits Pakistani prisoner Dr Chishty

After the acquittal: Dr Chishty and Mrs Chishty with Justice Katju at the judge's residence, New Delhi, Dec 12, 2012

After the acquittal: Dr Chishty and Mrs Chishty with Justice Katju at the judge’s residence, New Delhi, Dec 12, 2012

At last! On 12-12-12, the Indian Supreme Court acquitted Dr Chishty. Earlier, an unprecedented Indian SC verdict had granted him bail to return to Pakistan, the first time ever that a Pakistani prisoner in India was given such permission. The retired virologist, now over 80 years old, had gone back to India quietly in November for the court hearing seeking to dismiss the murder charges against him. It’s been a long struggle since we first started campaigning for this, and there’s a great feeling of satisfaction that it has finally ended well.

Tehelka did a podcast with me this morning. I made a mistake in the chronology of how the process to free Dr Chishty began. In fact, Amna Chishty (Dr Chisthy’s daughter) had written to the Indian SC and Law Ministry, after which the trial was finally held (after 19 years); Justice Katju came into the picture a bit later – but his role in freeing Dr Chishty was, as I said, essential.

Trade winds for peace: In the air, a hope song

A political push and removal of barriers will see a rise in trade, and peace, between India and Pakistan...

This article was originally published in The News and The Times of India last week

Trade winds for peace

By Beena Sarwar

“Trade for peace” is the new catchphrase defining the emerging relationship between India and Pakistan – a relationship historically so troubled that, when not actually at war, they have been engaged in a virtual cold war. But the winds of change are now blowing in a more positive phase, heralded by recent breakthroughs on the trade front. Continue reading

India-Pakistan prisoners – fishermen, POWs, and more

Indian fishermen released from Pakistani prisons, waiting to go back

Below, my article on the India-Pakistan prisoners issue published in Aman ki Asha on Jan 11, 2012, followed by a correction from Sen. Iqbal Haider and further clarification from B.M. Kutty. Also please do read Shivam Vij’s thought-provoking and thorough report ‘Why is Gopal Das free and not Dr Chishty?‘, published in Aman ki Asha, and Anahita Mukherji’s report in The Sunday Times of India about how the Indian prisoners were treated in Pakistan (surprisingly well) - Warm memories of time in Pak jail.

Looking a New Year gift horse in the mouth

Pakistan’s release of 183 Indian prisoners on Jan 7, 2012 is a welcome step but it also highlights the ongoing issues faced by cross-border prisoners Continue reading

Amna Chishty’s appeal to Governor Rajasthan re Dr Chishty

A rare family meeting at Hatundi, 2007: Dr Chishty with daughter Amna, her children and his nephew's children.

June 23, 2011

To,
Honorable Sh. Shivraj Patil
Governor of Rajasthan
Raj Bhawan, Civil Lines,
Jaipur, India

Subject: Case of Pakistani Prisoner Dr. Syed Mohammed Khaleel Chishty

This is regarding the mercy petition of my father Dr. Chishty who is presently in Ajmer prison hospital. Continue reading

Rajasthan Home Secretary, PUCL, join hands for Dr Chishty

PUCL General Secretary Kavita Srivastava: fighting for a cause

Note: Report compiled from information sent by Kavita Srivastava, General Secretary PUCL, to Dr Chishty’s family and those engaged in working for his release.

With the sympathetic involvement of the Government of Rajasthan and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), hope rises for a Pakistani prisoner, retired virologist Dr Khaleel Chishty, 78, who has been under trial for nearly 19 years before an Ajmer sessions court finally pronounced sentence in January this year, convicting him to life imprisonment (14 years). Continue reading

Aman ki Asha and a daughter’s appeal

Ajmer, Jan 2011: Unable to walk, Dr Chishty is carried to the courtroom. Photo: TOI

In humanity’s name: Aman ki Asha has 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, until their story is taken up by human rights activists and media…. See articles compiled at the Aman ki Asha website at the link ‘In humanity’s name‘. Four articles, including the one below, published today, available at this link.

A campaign is building up in India for the release of an elderly retired Pakistani professor detained for over 19 years

By Beena Sarwar Continue reading

Dr Chishty incarceration: details from his daughter Amna Chishty

Photo of Dr Chishty taken in 2007 when his daughter was able to visit him

16th April 2011

Details of my father’s case:

Before I go into his case a brief background of my father:

He is almost 80 years old. He received his PhD from University of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1968 in Public Health Virology. He had an illustrious career as a professor and head of department of virology and microbiology at Karachi University. In the late 80’s he retired from his last job as the Director of Public Health at King Abdul Aziz Airport in Jeddah Saudi Arabia. He is a principled man who is well‐read, well bred and well traveled. He worked hard to raise a family of six children – one son (oldest, with engineering diploma), five daughters (one is a doctor, one is a Pharmacologist, two are graduates and myself an MBA in marketing). He educated us and built a house for us in Karachi and supported his younger brother in India as well. After retirement he wanted to live in that house in Karachi and enjoy his retirement with his family and his grandchildren.

The following events led to his current plight: Continue reading

Indian Supreme Court judges appeal to Pakistan for prisoner’s release, quote Faiz, Shakespeare

March 14, 2011, New Delhi: “The quality of mercy is not strained” and  “Qafas udaas hai yaaron” – Indian Supreme Court judges quote Shakespeare and Faiz in appealing to the Pakistani authorities to release an Indian prisoner detained for 27 years, applaud “humanitarian spirit on both sides”. Judgement below (thank you Jatin Desai for sending the judgment so fast)

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 16 OF 2008

Gopal Dass Thru. Brother Anand Vir    ..       Petitioner

-versus-

Union of India and anr.        ..  Respondents

J U D G M E N T Continue reading

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