Dr Khalil Chishty is back home – three cheers for candle-light peaceniks

Ajmer: Dr Chishty talks with his family after his release from jail in Ajmer on May 9, 2012. PTI Photo

A post by my Delhi-based journalist friend Shivam Vij in Kafila but he modestly leaves out his own role in this – it was his idea to get President Zardari briefed about the Dr Chishty case before he left for Ajmer. Thanks to Farahnaz Ispahani for getting the information to President Zardari, following up via Bilawal Bhutto who accompanied the President, and ensured that the matter came up when they met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It was after this meeting and their discussion of the case that things began moving forward. Perhaps that was what gave the Honourable Judges of the Supreme Court of India the confidence to make this unprecedented judgement – though not without cautioning that it should not be seen as a precedent! Shivam’s Kafila piece: Dr Khalil Chishty is back home – three cheers for candle-light peaceniks.

Governor Rajasthan delays Dr Chishty’s release

Unable to walk on his own anymore, Dr Chishty is carried to court in Ajmer. Photo: Times of India


Beena Sarwar

June 21: The expected release of an elderly Pakistani academic imprisoned in India for nearly two decades was delayed as the Governor of Rajasthan raised further queries instead of signing the mercy petition recommended to him by the Chief Minister of Rajasthan – flouting the constitutional provision that requires the Governor to act upon the advice of the Chief Minister, making his signature a mere formality. Continue reading

Dr Chishty: update from Kavita Srivastava, PUCL

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.  Continue reading

Competitor to militant Islam: Daata’s langar closed for first time in 927 years…

Langar at Daata Darbar

The horrific suicide bombings which claimed over 40 lives on Thursday night at the shrine of the revered sufi poet Hazrat Daata Ganj Baksh, the patron saint of Lahore, are a gory reminder of the urgent need for all concerned to join forces against ‘terror’.

A little over a year ago, after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore in March 2009, Siddharth Varadarajan urged India and Pakistan to forget the conspiracies and acknowledge that they face the same threat – ‘Lahore attack shows urgency of joint action on terror‘.

Rehman Baba's shrine damaged in the attack of March 2009

He suggested that “Cricket is the most visible icon of secular Pakistan, and perhaps the only competitor militant Islam faces in its struggle to tame the wayward Pakistani mind”. My response was that there is another, even more deep-rooted competitor that militant Islam faces – the deep-rooted, widespread adherence to Sufi Islam and values, superstition, taweez dhaga etc. “I fear (hope hope hope I am wrong) a major attack on any urs taking place at any of the major shrines any time soon,” I wrote at the time.

Two days later Hazrat Baba Rehman’s shrine outside Peshawar was attacked, thankfully without any casualties. Continue reading

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