Free Dr Khaleel Chishty: Amna Chishty

Update: A hopeful note from Kavita Srivastava

An appeal by AMNA CHISHTY

16th April 2011

My father 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: In 1992 my father went to Ajmer to visit his ailing mother at his brother’s house near Dargah Sharif. During his visit a long‐standing feud between his brother and his distant paternal relatives took a turn for the worst. While my father was attending a function, there was a verbal confrontation with the paternal relatives and hot words were exchanged between them. After the incident he came back to his brother’s house, however events escalated and armed men attacked my uncle’s house via the roof, by jumping from the rooftop of the neighboring house. My uncle’s sons and other cousins ran up to defend their territory while the women hid my father downstairs since they feared for his life and knew that his involvement being a Pakistani could lead him in a lot of trouble.

Two of my cousins were injured with knives during the altercation, my third cousin fearing the worst went to grabbed a gun. As he came back to the site he was confronted by one of the attackers who tried to take the gun away from him. As the two struggled for the gun, it accidently fired and hit another attacker, who succumbed to his injuries on the roof soon after. The police had been called and were on the scene. At this point my father thought it was safe to go upstairs to offer first aid to his injured nephews. This proved to be a mistake on his part, as the opposing party implicated him in the incident as well.

The events that followed saw my father being taken to prison on basis of a false FIR and treated like a common criminal. His passport was confiscated and he was sent to jail. Over time everyone including my father obtained bail. My father found it too painful to live in Ajmer city due to the tense atmosphere and opted to live in Hataundi village where he had an ancestral farmhouse. During his stay in Hataundi his movements were restricted and he could not leave the village without special permission.

He lived there without consular access or independent legal representation, my uncle opted for a lawyer who jointly represented the two of my cousins and my father. Due to our limited foresight we (including my father) did not see any issues with this approach, however as time passed it proved otherwise. After a number of years it was clear that both the parties (the attackers and my uncle’s family) had no interest in bringing the case to a close and the courts were happy delaying hearings on a consistent basis. During this time both parties (the attackers and my uncle’s family) were living normal lives, both my cousins got married, had kids and conducted business as usual. My uncle in Ajmer did not openly share details of my father’s case with us; he was the main contact with the lawyer who represented his sons and my father. As time went on it became evident that my father’s interests were not adequately safeguarded, we started to look for an independent representation for my father, however this was met with discontent and my father, living in another’s house decided to go with the status quo. As things deteriorated my sister forced my father and arranged for a lawyer, however the lawyer was not allowed to represent my father and at the end just became an observer and provided details of how and why the case is being delayed hearing after hearing.

Over the years my sister has also requested several human right organizations on both sides to secure his release on humanitarian grounds but to no avail.

The 19 years of the trial became my father’s nightmare retirement, instead of enjoying his books, his children’s wedding, his grand children and the lifestyle he achieved during his illustrious career, he was forced to live in exile. During this time he missed two of his daughter’s weddings, the birth of nine of his grand children and the house and library he had made for his retirement. He was forced to swap this with a life style, which eventually made him emotionally, physically and financially bankrupt. You can get some idea about my father’s character when you consider that, even during the tumultuous 19‐years of horror he never violated his bail conditions or broke the law. He stood by his principles and patiently waited as the legal system took its course. It was evident to him that the end of his life was passing him by but he never compromised his principles. The living conditions were not easy for him, he was an old man living with the basics, completely cut off from the world. At one time my father did not even have basic amenities, such as a functioning toilet, a fridge and a TV, but he never complained. We found out about this during one of my sister’s visits.

During the 19 years of trial my family in Pakistan and myself have been able to visit him for short periods whenever we could get a visa. There were periods when the process was easy while at other times it was difficult depending on the relations between the two countries. My mother who had hearing problems for a long time has over the years lost almost all of her hearing, as a result she was unable to talk to my father over the phone there was no means of communication between them.

After her visit to India she would have to wait for 1 year before she could apply for the visa again. But all these years she has never complained and endured the pain silently.

Events took a turn for the worst last year in March 2010, my father fell from his bed and suffered a hip fracture. He needed hip surgery but suffered a heart attack while on the operating table, as a result the doctors opted not to operate and he was left with an unhealed hip fracture. Due to lack of treatment the hipbone healed abnormally rendering him disabled. After the incident, seeing that our father was incapacitated and living without proper medical support, my family in Pakistan, my brother in Saudi Arabia and myself in Canada tried to get visas to go help him but due to recent increased visa restrictions for Pakistanis we faced difficulties. It took two months for my brother to get a visa and finally go see my father, my mother and sister were able to go after three or more months when human right organisations requested for a visa for them on humanitarian grounds. As a result they were given a visa for only 15 days. After that he has been on his own with one old servant to care for him.

Seeing no way out and fearing for his life, I started writing letters to Government officials in India including Chief justice of India, Law minister of India, Prime Minister of India and Chief minster of Rajasthan etc. I believe that one of these people was kind enough to take notice of my letters and inquire why this case has been delayed for 19 years, after this inquiry to the local court, the case moved fast and a verdict was finally delivered in Dec 2010. To our surprise everyone involved in the case (both parties, the attackers and my family) was handed a sentence including my father. He was given 14 years life imprisonment under section 302. When he was taken to the jail he was so weak that he could not walk on his own and was carried by two people. One of my relatives in Ajmer who visited him described that he just lies in his hospital bed saying nothing at all. I believe he is depressed and has lost all hope.

Afraid for his life I wrote to Beena Sarwar after reading about the release of Gopal Das and the role of “Aman Ki Asha” which helped start a movement in which some very kind hearted people on both sides are involved and hoped to get help in bringing my father back alive before it’s too late.

Some of these upstanding citizens after making inquires about the case found that my father was falsely implicated and great injustice had been done to him, they have sent an appeal to the president of India to release my father on humanitarian grounds. I have also written to the President separately for a pardon.

At this point we are afraid for his life. My mother who has lost her hearing does not know about the fact that her husband is in prison, every day my sister pretends she is talking to my father on the phone to assure her that he is ok. The last time my sister was able to talk to my father was when a phone call was facilitated by officials from the Pakistan high commission who went to visit him in the prison after learning about his case, this was in January of this year. Everyday we fear for the worst as to how long can a frail old man survive without any hope on the prison hospital bed.

After the verdict came in, my uncle’s lawyer filed suspension of sentence appeals on behalf of my two cousins and my father in the High court. The appeals for my cousins were granted and they are now out on suspended sentences. My father’s appeal was rejected and while the court recognized that during the 19 years when he was out on bail he never violated the conditions of his bail, still no leniency was shown since he is a Pakistani citizen.

In an email Kavita Srivastava who is aware with the case wrote, “We were sure that the high court would suspend the sentence, but it was extremely disturbing that while two of his nephews (who are extremely young) on the Indian side (who were convicted with him) were granted bail, his sentence was not suspended simply because he was a Pakistani. The High Court judge (made a comment, which has not come in the bail order) that, ”While I appreciate that he never violated the law in the 19 years of being on bail in India, but since he is a Pakistani we can not show leniency.” This is extremely odd as the Rajasthan High Court has shown great precedence in ensuring justice to the Pakistani Prisoners.”

I appeal to all of you to please help me bring my father back so he could spend the rest of his days with dignity, surrounded by people who care for him. While what is happening to my family is extremely painful and emotionally draining, I can only imagine how many others there are in similar or even worse situation on both sides of the border. I am glad that I found a forum like “Aman Ki Asha” that helped start a movement for my father’s release and repatriation back to Pakistan. It is extremely heartening to see so many people who have risen to help this case purely from the goodness of their hearts and I know that I will never be able to express enough gratitude for what they are doing for my father.

If any of you need more information regarding something specific in this letter, please let me know.

Amna Chishty
amnachishty at hotmail dot com

See also:

Please blog, Facebook, Tweet, circulate on email and write to the Rajasthan governor, and the President of India to free Dr Chishty. 

46 thoughts on “Free Dr Khaleel Chishty: Amna Chishty”

  1. Hi Amna ,
    Keep yourself motivated. Don’t ever loose it. Every Indian is with you. I support you by any means. Hope, everything will be alright. Be brave and courageous .

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  2. really disturbing!!!!
    it is sad to know ordeal of 80 years old man. we commoners feel hopeless in front of state power. i couldn’t make it out what kind of our helps can end such ordeal!!!

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  3. My God!!! Words fail me. Is this old age not what we prepare all our lives for? So that we may spend it in relative security – both material and emotional? Be strong, dost. We hear you, we add our voices. We will work together to bring him home.

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  4. have no words of comfort … it is ridiculous on the part of the High Court to have mentioned about your father being from Pakistan. Wish u luck with our judicial system which could throw up a few surprises..

    piyush

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  5. Let us hope that Dr.Chishti’s ordeal will end and he will be able to rejoin with his family. Meanwhile, it is shameful that such an old and respected person is detained and denied justice. Does that High Court Judge mean that had Dr.Chisthi been an Indian and violated his terms, he would have been shown leniency. Maybe that judge didnt get his share, that may be the reason.

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  6. Its a very disturbing phenomenon when simple common man still pays the price for partition.

    The governments should be sensitive to the plight of common man.So many of them are there in Jails on both the sides with none of their fault.”Aman ki Asha” is the platform when we read these horrifying tales.

    Nonetheless there are people who are sensitive to the cases like this and believe in human dignity.

    Im sure you will get the justice maybe it can take some time.

    We all support you in this endeavour and pray that you meet your father soon.

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  7. My dear Amna,Assalam O aliaikum,
    Though your matter is too old but I came to know about it just a few minutes before while viewing star news channel,thereafter on net.It’s really painful to hear every aspect of the case as detailed by you.Can you inform me the latest details as I had instructed my cousin Advocate Tanveer Ahmad Siddiqui who is in Ajmer City who will inform me.Just have faith on Allah things will be sorted out soon.

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  8. Am told:

    Costitution Bench of Supreme Court in Nanavati vs. State of Bombay, A.I.R.1961 S.C.112 [vide para 21] upheld that pardon can be granted by President [or Governor] even during pendency of case. Hence Dr. Chishty’s appeal pending in Rajasthan High Court “is no impediment to the power of the President or Governor”

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  9. I feel short of words to console.
    But the humane scenario that above comments reflect give me reason to believe Dr.chisty wil b with u.May the good sense prevail-Inshaalaah

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  10. I am shocked, stunned, horrifed. Is this the India I love and am proud of? Is this how we treat people irrespective of nationalities? Where scamsters and the corrupt walk free daily and the innocent languish behind bars without even a fair trial?

    I cry for India. I cry for this gentleman who has suffered silently for 19 years. I cry for his family who has been patiently waiting for his release

    If there is fairness in this world- and I do believe there is- he will be out soon, and you MUST fight. Pick up the battlecry , we are with you

    Kafila -needs to let us know how can we help?

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  11. Shahid Afridi knew about this and thus said Indian dont have big hearts. And look at how the “Indian” relatives are behaved in the matter. Too painful.

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  12. Sister Aamna
    You are too young but surely too brave to deal this horrible,disturbing situation.I admire you and salute you for your efforts and advise you to continue struggle to get release of most respected CHISHTY sahib. I heard all this through a post by Huda on my face book. Chishty sahib is a dignified ,brave,loving ,simple humane being and I am with you in his release efforts.He must get released from the jail soon and will be back with his family in Pakistan.We all humane beings living in Canada are demanding to Hon.President of India for Prof.Chishty on humanitarian ground as soon as possible.

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  13. Given Dr Chisty’s age, his medical condition, the 19 year long wait and the circumstances of the case, he should be allowed to go back to Pakistan and live his last days in peace.

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  14. Dear Amna
    I am so sorry for what has happened to your father and your family. Your story is truly heartbreaking. Will spread your message across for more support.

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  15. It was so sad to know the trageic incident happens with your father . I strongly appeal to all my indians and pakistanis freinds to raise their voices aginst this un justice and make every possible effort for the release of your father on humantarian ground.

    We all support you for your efforts . We hope and pary that your father will be soon released Inshaallah.

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  16. I think everything I need to say has been said in the comments before mine. But I will say this, not releasing Dr. Khaleel Chishty would not only be in a slap in the face of justice, but also a slap in the face of humanity. Please do release him and let him live the last days of his life in dignity, and love.

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  17. Dear Amna,
    Your father, Dr. Khaleel Chishty, is a friend of mine. Our friendship began when we both were M.Sc student in the new Department of Microbiology at Karachi University. During two years of close association and interactions, I found him to be a gentle soul who would not harm even his enemy. We all were impressed with his kind, always-smiling and always-helping attitude. I am not sure what went wrong but something went wrong terribly. He has already been robbed of 19 years of his productive life. A productive life that would have enriched his family, his friends and the society at large. The Indian authorities have to take all of this into consideration when making a decision. No matter what, no one can take away his outstsnding accomplishments and contributions as a father, a teacher and a leader in public health. As many readers of your plea “Free Dr. Khaleel Chishty” I too request the Indian authorities to be mindful of what Dr. Chishty has already gone through during the past 19 years and now it is time to let him go and let him live in peace with his family.
    Mumtaz Ahmed

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  18. This is find out about the latest on Dr Chishty’s release,Kindly ,people please expedite.He is ailing and old and already suffered so much ,will people please do something so that the family maybe reunited.

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  19. So much has been said in favour of his release but if there are no positive results then where does his case stand?what are his chances to be free again .Give him his freedom he has suffered so much already for a crime he did not commit.

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  20. Can someone tell me whats happening about Dr Chistys release?I mean things gain momentum but the actual release does not take place.What is the problem ?The gentleman has already served PLEASE LET HIM GO !!!!!!!IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY PEOPLE WHO CAN DO THIS I PLEA TO THEM TO ISSUE HIS RELEASE!

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  21. My Dear Amna:
    You might recall that I phoned you a couple of weeks ago from my home in Chicago. Like Dr. Mumtaz Ahmed, I too am an old friend of your dad. We were classmates in the Department of Microbiology, University of Karachi. Dr. Khaleel Chishty was our senior. He had received his undergrad degree a few earlier than our other classmates and had already been through a professional career. As such, he was like an older brother to me. Always willing to help, always cheerful and always there for us when we needed his advice and wise counsel.
    Dr. Chishty is a gentleman and an accomplished scientist. I cannot tell you how sorry and upset I am with what he has and is going through just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
    I join others in appealing the authorities in India to grant Dr. Chishty his freedom and let him go back to his family.

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  22. Thanks for your concern everyone, the latest on my father is that his mercy plea is moving through the offices of Rajasthan Government , the home secretary has made a positive recommendation and currently the file is with the CM office, after hopefully recieving a positive recommendation from the CM office it will finally reach the Governor of Rajasthan who has the power to grant a mercy petition. Despite my father’s condition and his age, this is the process that it has to go through , so we are patiently waiting and praying for the best that he comes home soon.
    A writ petition has also been filed in Pakistan’s Superme and it will be heard on June 15th.

    Please read this link

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  23. We pray that no more hurdles come in the way of the file moving fwd and his release. God bless him and his family.

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  24. Dear Amna,
    Our Indian Judiciary system is the worst in the world without even basic common sense. Unfortunately you are facing our nonsense. It was the court that delayed the proceedings for 19 years, it was the court that convicted the old disciplined man (just because they dont have guts to release a Pakistani). After creating all these mess, now the supreme court appeals the Prime minister to release him. We indians are impotent to stop militants from pakistan to infiltrate. So these people are taking revenge over the good and educated people. I am sorry for what my country has done to your father and your family. I will pray the almighty for your father’s release and being with your family soon. There are human beings with same emotions on either side of the border. Leaders and power zones should bear in mind before taking any actions.

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  25. Dear Amna and all Chisty uncle’s children . There are no words to express how sad and & depressed my father is after this email. He happens to know uncle very well in Karachi University throug Anwar uncle . He sends his sincere sympathies to all of you and specially your mother . Alas!!!! Where should we go to appeal to Allah to take care of these two nations to have mercy on people . But you all need to be strong n pray to allah that he comes back safe to his children . Regards Hameed uncle and Seeme

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  26. Dear sister, We (Indians) are not stone hearted…. In name of allah, with brotherhood and mercy, soon your father will be imprisoned and reach home… I support you…. I’m sure that Indian government would soon take care of this…

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  27. Sad.. but am not shocked.. as this is what a fractured system can do to justice… Having served 19 years with restricted movements.. eventual ailments.. and consequential depression… is it still worth of sentencing him for life???…. which is 14 years.. as a matter of calculation he had already overshot the term by 5 years.. though not behind the bars and probably worse… is it not an indirect case of double jeopardy????… law treats everyone equal.. i believe no one sane would ever make a statement based on nationality.. practicality suggest that skepticism has to be considered to save from the probable loss and not to someone else’s harm…. I will faith the judiciary and would like to see further the advancement as a progress and not regression…

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  28. محترمہ آمنہ چشتی صاحبہ: یہ سب پڑھ کربے انتہا دکھ ہوا، میں ۱۹۸۲میں ڈاکٹر چشتی کے حج ریسرچ سنٹرجدہ یونیورسٹی کے حج پروجکٹ میں کراچی یونیورسٹی کے گروپ میں بطور مایکروبیالوجسٹ کام کر چکا ہوں۔ میں ڈاکٹر محمد الطاف خان کے ساتھ وہاں آیاتھا۔ ڈاکٹر چشتی صاحب انتہایئ نفیس انسان ہیں۔ میری دعاء ہے کہ اللہ تعالیِ اس مشکل گھڑی سے اُن کو نجات دلاے اور وہ جلد اپنے گھر والوں یں موجود ہوں۔ آمین۱ : طارق رضاء زیدی۔

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