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).
The sentence led to renewed efforts for his release, with his daughter Amna Chishty's plea to Aman ki Asha, asking to help get the ailing prisoner released allowing him to spend his remaining days with his family in Pakistan. The appeal has gained momentum with a senior member of the judiciary working behind the scenes to redress what he feels has been an injustice PUCL has been following this case and has intensified efforts to help Dr Chishty, along with several other eminent citizens, lawyers, and journalists.
On Wed., April 20, a PUCL delegation led by Dr. Radha Kant Saxena (Vice President), 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".
According to a briefing sent by PUCL General Secretary Kavita Srivastava to Dr Chishty's family and others involved in trying to obtain a pardon for him, the Home Secretary was very cooperative and will aid a process to facilitate Dr Chishty's release. The process will begin with Dr Chishty writing a mercy petition to which should be appended certain documents. The Home Department will then process the necessary documents and recommendations.
Meanwhile, those who signed the petition urging the release of Dr Chishty will continue seeking an appointment with the President of India as well as the Governor of Rajasthan; should they succeed, the process will move faster. 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 MEA Minister SM Krishna and Nirupama Rao.