Jaipur, July 5: Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt today pleaded for the early release of aged Pakistani national Dr Khalil Chisty, who is serving life sentence in Ajmer central jail.
He urged Rajasthan Governor Shivraj Patil to sign the 78-year-old prisoner's mercy petition on humanitarian grounds. Speaking at an interactive session organised by People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)- Raj here, Bhatt said, “The country will have to send Dr Chisty home in Pakistan, dead or alive. His health is deteriorating and if anything happens to him, what will be the message conveyed then?”
Convicted in a murder case, Chisty began serving life term on January 31 after a 18-year-long trial. “We should take a decision of humanitarian grounds before its too late. People both in India and Pakistan want better relations. We should stop de-humanising each other and it is high time we wake up and start looking at each other with compassion and love,” Bhatt added, launching a signature campaign for the release of Chisty.
He highlighted the case of Gopal Dass, an Indian citizen who was languishing in Pakistan jail for several years before being released on humanitarian grounds by the Government of Pakistan recently.
Bhatt also cited the example of the release of Indian national Sarabjeet who was also in a Pakistani jail.
The director mentioned that the release of five Pakistani crew members of a vessel, who were rescued by the Indian Navy from the clutches of Somalian pirates some time back, was delayed because they were tagged as ‘prisoners' in India and held the Indian Home Ministry responsible for it.
Earlier in the day, Bhatt met the state additional Chief Secretary (Home) PK Deb and discussed the release of Chisty.
His mercy petition is presently pending with Patil, who has the power to remit punishment under article 161 of the Constitution of India.
Before taking any decision, the Governor has made certain queries from the state Home Department regarding the case. Patil's approval will pave the way for Chisty's release. After a session court in Ajmer had awarded Chisty the life sentence, he had filed an appeal in the High Court but his bail plea had been rejected.
Chisty had gotten involved in a fracas during his visit to Ajmer in 1992 to meet his ailing mother and in the melee one person was killed, leading to his arrest. During the trial period, the session court, which had granted him bail few days after the incident, had ordered Chisty not to leave Ajmer and he was re-arrested after his conviction this year.
Chisty's relatives and human rights activists had filed a mercy petition on his behalf before the Rajasthan Home Department in April this year with a request that the matter be dealt expeditiously as his health was deteriorating. PTI