The 19 years of the trial became my father's nightmare retirement. Instead of enjoying his books, his children's weddings, his grandchildren and the lifestyle he earned 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 grandchildren and the house and library he had made for his retirement...
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. 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 another 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...
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. 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.
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, a verdict was finally delivered. 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...
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 officials from the Pakistan High Commission who went to visit him in the prison after learning about his case, in January this year, facilitated a phone call. Every day 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 recognised 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 of 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 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 cannot show leniency'." ...
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.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
KARACHI: Pakistan will resume the stalled trade talks with India with an "open mind" and hopes to develop an institutional framework to enable the t .....more
By Muhammad Abd al-Hameed
At a recent meeting held in New Delhi the interior secretaries of India and Pakistan decided to form a group to recommend simplifi .....more
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The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw