I have no money. I can’t even afford to pay for a rickshaw to go see him. So I collect money from relatives and friends and go see him every two weeks.
Every time I go I do not know what state I will find him in. He is no longer aware or present. When I visit him he speaks about strange things – at times he hits his head against the wall, and says that the walls are mocking him. Sometimes he appears in torn clothes, other times with no clothes at all. I often have to force him to eat, for otherwise he will not eat anything. I don’t think he even knows that I am his mother. He often denies that I am his mother, sometimes abusing me in front of everyone, saying that I am some mad woman who has come to visit him. His condition now is an extreme form of what I could see happening to him when he was under the influence of a mystic at a local shrine. Everything about him changed during those years – his habits, his appearance, his language. He drifted away from his home and from his own family – he stopped coming home, stopped speaking to his wife and children. He became an addict, spent most of his time asleep on pavements outside the shrine, or wandering the streets of the city.
I spent five years trying to save him, begging people to help me get him away from those people, but to no avail. And prison has been cruel to him. He has been beaten many times. He was once beaten so badly that he had to be hospitalised. That week when I visited him I was shocked; his nose bad been broken, he had stitches all over his face and I later learned he had suffered severe internal bleeding that may have possibly damaged his brain. He has been beaten many times since.
I don’t have the strength to go through this any more. Its been an 18 year long ordeal, and it has become unbearable. But no mother can walk away from her son. So I go back to see him, and I pray for a miracle each time I go.
Iqbal Bano. Mother.
The short documentary film about Iqbal Bano’s son, Khizar Hayat who remains on death row and under an execution order despite being diagnosed as suffering from Schizophrenia, is here.
Khizar was sentenced to death for the murder of a fellow police officer in 2003. Until his arrest, he worked as a police officer in the village where he lived with his wife and their children. He has been described by those who knew him as ‘very slow’ and easily manipulated. At trial, Khizar’s lawyer failed to present any evidence, or call a single witness in his client’s defence. He has spent over 12 years on death row and has developed severe mental illness during that time.
While in prison, Khizar has suffered multiple attacks from fellow prisoners. In 2012 these attacks became so frequent and severe that he was moved to an isolated cell in the jail’s hospital. Khizar’s mother has made repeated requests for her son to be moved to an independent medical facility but these have so far been refused. Instead he is kept in effective solitary confinement.
Khizar was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic in 2008 by jail authorities. He suffers from delusions and has to be heavily medicated. Khizar has no idea how long he has been in jail, does not know why he is on death row, and believes that the medications he is taking are anti- malarial pills. When Khizar’s family went for their last meeting with him, he did not recognise his wife or son and said to his mother “you’ve come to take me home” believing himself to be in prison because of a clerical error. The stress of having two separate dates with the hangman scheduled within an eight week period will not have helped his situation.
The condemned Khizar has already served a length of time on death row that amounts to life imprisonment, enforcement of the death penalty in these circumstances would therefore amount to double punishment, which is expressly prohibited in the Constitution of Pakistan.
Khizar is a mentally unwell man who has already suffered years of abuse in Kot Lakhpat Jail. He belongs in a mental health facility, not facing the death penalty.