Below, a heartening and hopeful account of Dr Chishty’s situation via email from Kavita Srivastava of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), India, after meeting him at Ajmer prison hospital, addressed to Dr Chishty’s daughters and others involved in trying to provide him relief. The petition seeking pardon for Dr Chishty under Articles 72 and 161 of the Constitution has been sent to the President of India as well as the Governor of Rajasthan, signed by Mahesh Bhat, Kuldeep Nayyar, Jatin Desai, Kavita Srivastava and Adml. Ramu Ramdas. It is encouraging that the Indian media is taking up the case with greater vigour. Below, Kavita’s email, reproduced with permission.
April 16: I managed to reach Central Jail in Ajmer on April 14th and was very lucky to meet Dr Chishty Sahab. The Jail authorities were very good. He was brought on a stretcher as there was no wheelchair in the hospital ward and also no ramp so even if there was a wheelchair it would have been difficult for him to come down those three steps. The Jail authorities were very cooperative and felt that although Dr. Chishty could move with a walker, it would have been a tedious affair for him to walk along the compound of the jail and then reach the jail office where the meeting was arranged.
Dr. Chishty was overwhelmed when he saw that I and Anant Bhatnagar, District General Secretary PUCL Ajmer had come to meet him. One of his distant grandsons Salman Chishty, who is a friend of mine, saw him through a distance. The jail authorities, only wanted it to be a meeting of human rights workers.
The Jail doctor also met us. We were also given Dr Chishty’s full medical report. Which shows that he is ok at present. No intervention in the hip or the heart. Last year he had had a fall and broke his hip, which according to the jail doctor had not been set properly so he had difficulty in walking. He had been thoroughly examined by the Orthopaedic Professor of Ajmer Medical College (JLN hospital).
Dr. Chishty kept saying that when he had had the fall in 2010, although he was taken in to the best hospital of Ajmer, he was not satisfied with the treatment. He also felt that it was probably some “paralytic” attack, which we could not confirm. (this was inaccurately reported in The Hindu as ‘palsy’).
He spoke to us for more than half hour, recalling our last conversation and how he had misplaced my number. He of course was overwhelmed when I told him that we would send him back home soon. He said that till now all the assurance he had got was of bail maybe. But reaching home was a dream now.
He told us that he was not getting books. The jail authorities promised that the Jail librarian would go with the complete list of books and let Chishty sahab select them. Incidentally, the Ajmer jail library is very good, it has classics in Persian, Arabic and Urdu and English. Since Dr. Chishty is multi-lingual he will be able to read the books in the period he is inside.
Anant Bhatnagar who was with me promised to take books for him. Dr. Chishty also said that now he had learnt Hindi too and was able to read Hindi not write.
Dr. Chishty spoke at length of his work as a virologist and regretted that his knowledge and skills were never used by the Indian State. Since there was no Institute of Virology in Ajmer, he said that he would have loved to have put his views if they had been taken.
Dr. Chishty was very coherent although he kept saying that it takes him time to remember things and also communicate. He sends his regards to all of you. He was asking about you Amna. He also very fondly remembered his nephew’s children in Ajmer with whom he had developed a tremendous relationship and was in tears when was talking about them.
Overall, the jail authorities are also very keen that he go home.
Soon after we met Dr. Chishty we went to had a small meeting with Ajmer friends, Anant, Salman and sister Mariola (who works with prisoners regularly) and sister Carol (a human rights worker working on torture). All present decided to work towards Dr. Chishty’s release. We also immediately arranged to send a wheelchair for Dr. Chishty and work on this ramp business with the authorities. Sister Mariola will go and meet him again. The mail is endorsed to all these friends including Radha Kant Saxena who is our PUCL, Vice President and also the best person on jails in India.
We have also passed on the message to the Home Secretary about his condition and requested that he be granted amnesty. We will be meeting him next week. I also met Mr. Kudip Nayar on the 11th in Delhi and we are trying to get an appointment with the President. The president used to be the Governor Of Rajasthan four years ago, so we do have a good communication with her. We are trying those links too.
More a little later.