Affair: A Fair Or A Foul
He left his home at the age of 27 and returned at 33. It became difficult for his near and dear ones to identify the young man after six years as beard has covered his face! It seemed that Hamid Nehal Ansari was absorbing the essence of the word, motherland, from the soil when he kissed the ground at Wagah Border on December 18, 2018! Then, he hugged his mother. Later, a senior officer of the Indian Army offered a bottle of water to Hamid who returned to India after spending six years in a Pakistani jail.
The Indian national, who arrived in Pakistan via Afghanistan in 2012 to meet the girl he had befriended online, was held incommunicado for three years. In 2015, Hamid was given a three-year jail term by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and possessing fake documents. Upon his arrival in India, he thanked his parents, the Foreign Ministries of India and Pakistan, the media of the two neighbouring countries, some voluntary organisations, human rights activists and his lawyers for ensuring his return to India.
The Pakistani authorities arrested Hamid in November 2012 for entering into the country with illegal documents. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan, operationally responsible for gathering, processing and analysing national security information from around the world – thought that he was an Indian spy. Hamid tried hard to convince the Pak authorities with his ‘love story’, but failed. So, he had to spend six years behind the bars!
Hamid kissing the ground
Hamid’s story began in 2010 when he met a Pakistani girl through Facebook. He fell in love with her after they chatted on the social networking site for few months. Hamid, the resident of Versova (Maharashtra), was working as a management teacher after completing engineering and MBA courses. Hamid’s mother Fauzia (59) is a former college Vice Principal, while his father is a retired bank officer. The parents were not aware of their son’s love affair with a woman with Pakistani decent!
Hamid’s sweetheart was from Kohat – a city in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan which serves as the capital of the Kohat District. In 2012, she informed Hamid that her parents decided to marry her off to a local man. She also requested her lover to rescue her. Hamid accepted the request and decided to leave for Pakistan!
The Pakistani girl was forced to close her Facebook account after her family members came to know about her relationship with an Indian national. It became difficult for Hamid to trace her whereabouts from the social networking site. Also, he faced difficulties in getting a visa for travelling to Pakistan. Then, helpless Hamid contacted Jatin Desai, head of a voluntary organisation dealing with the Indo-Pak issues, for help. As Desai failed to arrange a visa for him, Hamid left for Pakistan without legal documents.
Hamid Nehal Ansari
Later, Desai told the media: “I had no idea about this boy. He had made inquiries about who could help him get a Pakistani visa and he came to meet me. I had a big laugh when he told me that he wanted to marry a woman living in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a place notorious for honour killings. I told him to concentrate on his career and stop being stupid.” When he came to know that Hamid was arrested in Pakistan, Desai sent a letter to Karachi Press Club, requesting his journalist friends to talk to a lawyer who could ensure Hamid’s safe return to India. Finally, Pakistani rights lawyers Rakshanda Naz and Qazi Mohammed Anwar agreed to help the Indian national.
Upon his arrival in India, Hamid revealed that he had contacted some Pakistani friends through Facebook and they advised him to enter into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Afghanistan. Hamid told his parents that he got a job offer from Kabul Airport. He admitted that he had reached the Afghan capital with a tourist visa and left for Pakistan with the illegal documents. With the help of his online lover, Hamid established some contacts in Kohat who put him up in a lodge from where he was arrested on November 14, 2012 on charges of being an Indian spy. During interrogations, he told the Pak officers that he had booked a room as Hamza Khalid.
Hamid with his mother
Hamid thought that he could convince the girl’s parents, marry the girl and bring her to India. When an Indian journalist contacted the girl’s father a couple of years ago, he said that his daughter married a local man. According to sources close to the case, although Hamid never met the girl, she testified on his behalf in a court.
In 2017, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj assured Hamid’s mother that New Delhi would try its best to bring her son back to India. On January 17, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry informed the Indian External Affairs Ministry that Hamid would be handed over to New Delhi on January 18. Hamid’s parents, Desai, senior officials of the two countries and media persons were present at the Wagah Border on December 18 when the Indian software engineer returned to his motherland.
Hamid with Sushma Swaraj
After talking to his parents, Hamid met the press to share his experience. Without revealing the girl’s name, he said: “I wanted to meet the woman because she was in distress.” Hamid also said: “I was worried and unsure if I would ever be able to return home from Pakistan, but eventually when I saw there were a lot of people supporting me, I started praying. My family, the Indian government and Sushma Swaraj helped me a lot.” He stressed: “I want to celebrate with my family, after that I will start looking for a job and only then will I marry and settle down.”
Meanwhile, Desai told the press: “The Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace did its thing. A leading newspaper in Pakistan – The Friday Times – published an article on Hamid by Shivam Vij. Rakshanda looked after Hamid as if he was her son, Qazi Mohammad Anwar pursued the case relentlessly and was able to convince the court that while Hamid entered Pakistan illegally, he was not a spy.”
Jatin Desai (left) with Hamid’s parents Nehal & Fauzia
Desai also expressed serious concern over innocent people from both sides suffering in each other’s jails, saying: “With a little effort and plenty of common sense, we can put an end to this.”
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