Rashmi Talwar

Pakistan’s PM-in-making urged to honour promise of Hamid’s release in December

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Hamid Ansari: Indian Prisoner in Pakistan

Hamid Ansari

AMRITSAR: Even as Hamid Nehal Ansari’s Indian family is heartbroken following the rejection of remission of his jail term in Pakistan, Fauzia Ansari only prays for the state of Pakistan and its newly would be Prime Minister Imran Khan of the victorious Pakistan’s Tehreek-E-Insaaf party, to honour their promise of releasing her son on the designated date of December 16, 2018.

The date of release comes, after six years of imprisonment of the Indian citizen Hamid, lodged now in Pakistan’s Mardana Jail of Peshawar. On August 7, the Peshawar High Court bench disposed of the petition of the Indian national who sought remission in his three years prison term awarded by a military court in 2015. Pakistan’s federal government has assured to deport him after the completion of prison term in December.

Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim of Peshawar HC declined remission to Hamid Nehal Ansari, observing that he was convicted by a court martial for espionage and anti-state activities and therefore, was not entitled to remission in the prison term. A deputy attorney general recorded his statement on behalf of the interior ministry and said the prison term of the petitioner would complete on December 15, 2018, and subsequently, he would be handed over to Indian authorities at Indo-Pak Wagah border check-post.

Meantime, after the euphoric win of the PTI party and declaration of Imran Khan as the new Pak PM, Fauzia had written letters of congratulations and urged the new incumbent to honour his country’s promise and release her son, not a day later than December 16, 2018.

      Fauzia and Nehal Ansari Hamid’s parents

Talking to Kashmir Images in a video call, from Mumbai Fauzia said: “My son Hamid was convicted after three years of imprisonment for three more years. Hence he has served a double sentence of six years while being convicted for three.”  In her letters the mother pleads with the new PM –“I beseech with you not to breach my and my country’s trust and faith in your country of which you have become Prime Minister and taken its reins in your able hands.” Fauzia had very innocently intended to give the letters to four of her country’s top achievers – Cricketers Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavasker, and Navjot Singh Sidhu and most loved actor Aamir Khan, when they were presumably invited for the oath taking ceremony of the new Pak PM, an ace cricketer himself. However the speculation of the invitation to the foursome was quashed soon after.

Fauzia had written in her letter that her biggest achievement and solace would be that the release of her innocent son would spread goodwill and help to mend fences between the two countries. “My son is innocent, he was just a lovelorn youth gone astray and entered your country on fake documents, those too, provided by Pakistan nationals and that is his only crime”, she says in a stricken voice.

Fauzia and Nehal Ansari, parents of Hamid said they were greatly comforted by the contention of Hamid’s lawyer Qazi Mohammad Anwar during the recent August 7, hearing, who disputed the government’s claim that his client (Hamid) was involved  in anti-state activities. Anwar, in his contention, stated that his client (Hamid), who was taken into custody in 2012, was neither an Indian agent nor connected to any anti-Pakistan group. The lawyer further stated that his client (Hamid) had committed a mistake by crossing the border into Pakistan without valid documents and that he had a fake identity card. He said,“At the most, Hamid could be convicted under the Passport Act or for preparing forged documents”.

It may be mentioned that Qazi Mohammad Anwar and Rakshanda Naz an advocate and a human rights activist had not charged a penny from Hamid’s parents for fighting his case.

Pakistan’s foremost English daily The Dawn writes: “The petitioner (Hamid), a teacher at the Mumbai Management College, had entered Pakistan on Nov 12, 2012, with a fake identity card sent to him by his Facebook friends from Karak and stayed with them in their area for two days. He was taken into custody from a Kohat hotel two days later. The petitioner was shown missing after he was taken into custody by intelligence agencies and local police in Kohat district in Nov 2012”.

Fauzia contends:“Hamid was arrested by Kohat Police on 14/11/2012 for entering in Pakistan without visa to meet and help a girl of Kohat whom he befriended on Facebook and fell in love. Since then he was in the custody of Army (missing) till 16-12-2015. Hence, my son’s innocence is amply corroborated by The Dawn report.

Earlier this year, Pakistan’s defence ministry filed comments and informed the court that the petitioner Hamid was convicted by a field general court martial on the charges of espionage and involvement in anti-state activities on Dec 15, 2015, and was not entitled to remission in three-year prison term. The ministry had requested court to dismiss his petition saying it is not maintainable. The Defence also contended that under Article 199 of the Constitution, the high court had no jurisdiction to entertain the petition as the petitioner was convicted under the Pakistan Army Act.

Hamid had challenged the mention of the words ‘anti-state activities’ on his jail warrants and said he was neither involved in any anti state activities nor was he convicted by the military court for that offence. He had also prayed to the court to direct the authorities of Mardan prison to allow ‘due’ remission to him from Dec 15, 2015, when he was convicted, and work out his date of release thereafter.

Fauzia, a Hindi lecture, relentlessly pursuing her son’s case reiterates: “Allegations of framed charges of espionage are baseless as Hamid was in Pakistan for less than three days admittedly on fake documents, but had a different mission of rescuing a sweetheart damsel in distress. He was with Pakistani friends; befriended on social networking site Facebook that included this girl who honey trapped him to enter Pakistan illegally. The friends not only offered their support to facilitate Hamid to crossover from porous Torkham border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but went as far as to make a fake Pakistani ID of Hamid in the name of Hamza. “That is the true and only sequence of Hamid’s fault!”

Hamid is a Mumbai-based MBA and an IT Engineer, a Rotary Club president-2012, before he ostensibly proceeded to Kabul on November 4, 2012 for a job in Afghanistan’s Aviation sector on a tourist visa. “Till November 10, he was in touch with the family via Tele no. +93707295124 and expected back on Nov15th”, Fauzia adds. Alarmed by the lost connection and Hamid’s non-arrival on the appointed date, the family went through his Facebook account. “Hamid had not logged out from Facebook on our home computer and therefore we became privy to his entire conversational details”, says Fauzia.

Based on these details, Fauzia believes- Nadia became close to him, and revealed to him that she was a victim of “VANI”- a prevalent social evil by a Jirga (council of village elders ) who had ordered her into a forcibly marriage as punishment for crime committed by her male relatives . Hamid, determined to save Nadia was egged on and coaxed by other Pakistani friends to cross over from the porous Torkham border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Pakistani friends mentioned are Atta-Ur-Rehman, Saba Khan, Abdulla Zaid Khatak, Humaira Hanif, Dr. Shazia Khan and the alleged sweetheart a tribal girl of Kohat, named Nadia. Three of these online Pakistani friends not only encouraged but also lured Ansari to cross the border illegally from Afghan capital Kabul to Kohat in Pakistan, and gave him detailed instructions. One of them even instigated him to not waste time and get there to save Nadia.

Atta-ur Rehman Awan, was reportedly a graphic designer with Dastak- an Urdu magazine in Kohat; Shazia Khan claimed to be a doctor in medicine in Islamabad; Saba Khan, Abdulla Zaid Khatak, Humaira Hanif remain a mystery.

After six most agonising years, wherein Fauzia’s eyes have dimmed due to constant crying and Hamid’s 90-year old maternal grandmother is lying in a semi-conscious state, his elder brother never married awaiting his return, the family’s holds on hard to the one promise made by Pakistan- about the safe and sound repatriation of Hamid to his homeland India in December.

However, their cup of woes does not end here, they are in for another battle, though a minor one in comparison. This time it would be to wash the stigma of incarceration in a Pak jail for their Hamid. “Despite the alacrity between both countries I see a hope of humanity in the new Pak PM. I am optimistic that with Hamid repatriation, a mother and her country’s faith in Pakistan would be renewed with added vigour and that would be enough to exonerate my son,” Fauzia said.

Rashmi Talwar, an Independent writer, can be emailed at: [email protected]

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