Mumbai man returns home after 6 years in Pakistan jail: How India secured his repatriation

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New Delhi | Published: December 18, 2018 10:29:23 AM

Last week, the Peshawar High Court gave the federal government a month's deadline to complete his repatriation process.

Hamid Nihal Ansari and his family members

Bringing joy to members of the Ansari family in Mumbai, their 33-year-old son Hamid Nihal Ansari is returning to India after spending six years in a Pakistan prison. He was detained by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies in 2012 on charges of being an Indian spy who entered the country illegally. “Ansari is being released upon completion of his sentence and is being repatriated to India,” Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said.

Last week, the Peshawar High Court gave the federal government a month’s deadline to complete his repatriation process. Pakistan has always maintained that Ansari is an “Indian spy who had illegally entered Pakistan and was involved in anti-state crimes and forging documents.” Ansari is scheduled to reach home via Wagah border on Tuesday. Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said that Ansari was an “Indian spy who had illegally entered Pakistan and was involved in anti-state crimes and forging documents.”

The elated father has expressed happiness over his son’s release from the Pakistan prison. He said that other members of the family were eager to see Hamid. He also said that the family was thankful to the governments of India and Pakistan for every effort and underscored that “Our family is waiting for Hamid.”

Six-year wait

Hamid Nihal Ansari was arrested in Pakistan in 2012 by the country’s intelligence agencies. The military court on December 15, 2015 sentenced him to three years imprisonment. He was lodged in the Peshawar Central Jail. The three-year jail term ended on December 15, 2018. However, the repatriation process was delayed as his legal documents were not ready.

Ansari went missing

Ansari went missing after he was taken into custody by Pakistani intelligence agencies and local police in Kohat in 2012. Subsequently, his mother Fauzia Ansari filed a habeas corpus petition seeking whereabouts of Ansari. Pakistan replied to the plea stating he was in custody of the country’s Army and was being tried by a military court. According to reports, he entered Pakistan from Afghanistan, reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online.’

Pakistan was silent on deportation

A two-judge Peshawar High Court bench, comprising Justice Roohul Amin and Justice Qalandar Ali Khan, on Thursday heard an appeal filed by Ansari through his lawyer Qazi Muhammad Anwar. Anwar informed the bench that both the Ministry of Interior and authorities of prison, where he was lodged, were completely silent about his release and deportation to India. After hearing this, Justice Khan asked the Additional Attorney General to explain how they could keep the prisoner in jail after completion of his term.

An officer, representing the interior ministry, informed the court that a prisoner could be kept for one month while the legal documents were being prepared. After knowing the legal position, the court directed the ministry to make all the arrangements within a month for releasing and deportation of the prisoner.

Indian government’s reaction

Welcoming the gesture from Pakistan, Indian government has said that it was matter of great relief. “We have received a note from Pakistan today that they are releasing Indian national Shri Hamid Nehal Ansari tomorrow. It is a matter of great relief, especially for the family members, that six years of incarceration of the Indian civilian in Pakistan jail is coming to an end,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters.

How India successfully secured deportation of Ansari

Ansari’s return to India can be seen as a big diplomatic win for the central government. India issued a total of 96 note verbales to Pakistan seeking consular access to Ansari and the decision to release him was on account of relentless pressure from New Delhi, according to reports.

“We would like Pakistan to take action to also end the misery of other Indian nationals and fishermen whose nationality has been confirmed and who have completed their sentences, but continue to languish in Pakistan jails,” MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

He said Indian also awaits Pakistan’s response to the visit of Indian medical team to meet mentally unsound prisoners with a view to facilitate their nativity verification and subsequent repatriation. “We hope that Pakistan would respond and organize an early visit of the Joint Judicial Committee so that the issues of prisoners can be dealt with in a humanitarian and timely manner,” Kumar said.

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