A 33-year-old Indian was repatriated on Tuesday after spending six years in a Pakistani jail. A military court had tried Hamid Nehal Ansari on charges of espionage and sentenced him to three-year imprisonment in December 2015. He had three years earlier entered Pakistan illegally from Afghanistan. Ansari’s family has maintained he had gone there to meet a woman he had befriended on social media.
The 33-year-old’s family received him at the Attari border crossing in Punjab. He bowed down and kissed the ground as soon as he entered into the Indian territory.
His teary-eyed mother, Fauzia, was anxious about the torture her son may have faced in custody, a Border Security Force officer present at the border said. She embraced and checked whether her son had any torture marks. The officer quoted Ansari telling his mother that he was fine.
Ansari was taken to the local immigration office after a five-minute meeting with his family, where he was subjected to routine questioning done in such cases. He was not allowed to talk to journalists and was scheduled to fly to New Delhi with his family.
Ansari’s father, Nehal, said they have not celebrated any festival since his son went missing. “…this is the day of celebration. We will celebrate all festivals today.” He insisted his son had not gone to Pakistan with an intention to harm anyone. Nehal added he had gone there for a noble cause. “That is why our prayers have been answered.” He acknowledged going without a visa was his son’s mistake.
Fauzia said they had no information about his whereabouts for at least three years. “After knowing about my son’s arrest in Pakistan, we approached Indian and Pakistani governments, which remained very supportive. We are thankful to both.” She said all Indians, who have completed their sentences in Pakistan jails, should be released. “Parents should also keep a watch on social media their children use.’
Ansari’s Facebook friend had sent him a fake Pakistani national identity card. He first went to Karak in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and stayed there for two days. He was later arrested from Kohat.
The Peshawar high court was told Ansari was in the Pakistan army’s custody after his mother filed a habeas corpus petition through Pakistani lawyers. Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal tweeted on Monday saying Ansari was an Indian spy, who had illegally entered Pakistan. He accused him of “anti-state” crimes and forging documents.
Ansari’s jail term ended on December 15 and he was repatriated after the high court gave the Pakistani government a month’s deadline to complete the process on Thursday.