Clemency file reaches Rajasthan Governor; Pakistani virologist's family arrives in Ajmer

The family of Khaleel Chishty, the Pakistani virologist who is undergoing life imprisonment in the Ajmer jail, reached Ajmer on Friday as attempts by human rights activists to get the ailing prisoner freed picked up momentum.

There is renewed hope for the release of Dr. Chishty after the petition for his clemency, initiated back in April this year, again reached Rajasthan's acting Governor Shivraj Patil for consideration.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot cleared the mercy petition on June 17. However, when the file reached Mr. Patil he sent it back to the government with some queries, including those pertaining to the 19-year delay in the trial of the case and the nature of the Ajmer-born Dr. Chishty's involvement in the murder, for which he was sentenced to life by an Ajmer court on January 31 this year.

As the family of Dr. Chishty arrived from Karachi to the city of Garib Nawas in the morning it did not have the permission to meet the octogenarian — who was suffering from a multitude of ailments including heart problems and a hip fracture — now lodged in the Ajmer jail hospital. However, within a few hours, the authorities granted them permission to meet him.

Kin on 1-month visa

Dr. Chishty's septuagenarian wife Begum Mehrunissa, daughter Shoa Jawaid and grandson Syed Ali Ghalib Chishty have come with a one-month visa for stay in Ajmer. The family members interacted with the local media on the initiative of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Rajasthan.

Another daughter Tasneen, who is married to an Indian and lives in the UAE, joined the media interaction with her two grown-up children.  D. L Tripathi, president of the PUCL (Ajmer), and two Catholic nuns, Sister Mariola and Sister Carol, who work in jails, are providing the family local support.

PUCL (Rajasthan) general secretary Kavita Srivastava noted that Dr. Chishty's mercy petition was robust and the Governor this time round must use his powers under Article 161 of the Constitution of India to free him.

Trauma

Begum Mehrunissa, who lost her hearing out of sheer trauma of separation and agony of the past 19 years when Dr. Chishty underwent trial, wept with folded hands when she met the mediapersons. She appealed to the “Sadar” of India and the Governor of Rajasthan to sign on the mercy petition and let her husband leave for home in Pakistan.

Ms. Shoa Jawaid's's eyes turned moist when she said that her father had finally decided to settle down in Karachi after years of globetrotting when the tragedy struck.

Mr. Syed Ali Ghalib Chishty, a final year student of chartered accountancy, said the family had been fluctuating from hope to despair in the past five months over the release of his grandfather. “We were very hopeful in July as we were informed about the Rajasthan government clearing the mercy petition. Then we learnt that the Governor returned the file to the State government,” he said. “Again hope has been rekindled as we hear that the Governor will take up the petition now,” he said.

He felt that the family with the support of the human rights activists and media could pursue the matter better in Ajmer.

On Saturday, Begum Mehrunissa would meet her husband after two years. However, Dr. Chishty, now suffering from benign prostatic hypertrophy, ischemic heart disease and symptoms of left ventricular failure , (hypertension)  and cerebro vascular accident or brain stroke, to name a few, will speak to her with his eyes only as she has lost the capacity to hear.

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