Octogenarian Pakistani virologist Khaleel Chishti on Monday left Ajmer — the city of his confinement for the past 20 years — for Delhi on his way to Karachi. A Supreme Court order in April this year and a consequent order from the same court last week have facilitated the Dr. Chishti's journey to meet his family members in Pakistan. He will have to report back on November 1.

For Dr. Chishti, who was convicted to life imprisonment on January 31, 2011 after a protracted trial for his alleged involvement in a murder back in 1992, this is the first time in two decades that he crossed the Rajasthan border. Only a few months back — again for the first time — Dr. Chishti was brought to Jaipur from the Ajmer Central Jail to interact with a visiting Pakistani delegation.

Dr. Chishti was all hope and poise as he stood with some difficulty along with social activist Kavita Srivastava at the door of the Shatabdi Express at the Jaipur railway station. “I am thankful to you all. You all have been very kind,” he told the mediapersons on the platform even as curious onlookers milled about. His brother Jameel Chishti was travelling with him while his son Tariq will join him Delhi.

“First, I will go to a mosque to offer thanks to the Almighty. Then I will meet my dear ones at home,” Dr. Chishti said when asked what he would do first thing back home. There was a pensive pause when he was asked about his return date of November 1 but he cheered up when it was followed up by a question about his chances of getting clemency. “I have faith in the goodness of the people and fairness of the judiciary here,” he said. Once in Pakistan he would visit Lahore to meet Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, he said.

Speaking to mediapersons in Ajmer, Dr. Chishti was confident that he would be exonerated. “I am innocent. I will be happier if I am exonerated,” he said.

A Special Leave Petition against his conviction is pending in the Supreme Court while a clemency petition is before the Rajasthan Governor.

Keywords: Khalil Chisty

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