PESHAWAR: An imprisoned Indian national, Hamid Nehal Ansari, has claimed that he had been kept in a prison barrack with hardened criminals, one of whom physically assaulted him.

He has requested Peshawar High Court to order his shifting to a safer place in Peshawar Central Prison.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Mussarat Hillali and Justice Qalander Ali Khan summoned Peshawar jail superintendent on August 4, directing him to explain his position.

An application was filed by senior advocate Qazi Mohammad Anwer on behalf of Mr Ansari, who was convicted by a military court on December 17, 2015, and was sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment.

The application was filed in a writ petition earlier filed by Mr Ansari, seeking inclusion of the period of his pre-conviction detention in his three-year prison term.

Informs high court he has been kept with hardened criminals

Qazi Anwer argued that earlier the petitioner was kept in solitary confinement against which they had requested the high court to shift him to a better place. He added that the prison authorities claimed that because of his safety he was kept in death cell.

He argued that later on the petitioner was shifted to a barrack, where hardened criminals were also kept. He said that recently one of the prisoners attacked him and bitten him on his arm. He added that the said prisoner had also been frequently hurling threats on the petitioner and threatening him that he would teach him a lesson as the Indian forces were committing atrocities in Occupied Kashmir.

The counsel stated that Indian high commissioner in Pakistan had also contacted him and requested that safety measures may be taken for the petitioner.

A deputy attorney general, Mussaratullah Khan, stated that the Indian high commissioner should contact the federal interior ministry if he was interested in the case of petitioner.

The bench observed that if he was facing threat to his life the court would definitely look into it.

An additional advocate general, Waqar Ahmad, stated that it would be appropriate to summon the superintendent of prison as he would be in a better position to explain the situation.

The petitioner had gone missing after he was taken into custody by intelligence agencies and local police in Kohat district in November 2012 and finally in reply to a habeas corpus petition filed by his mother, Fauzia Ansari, the high court was informed on January 13 that he was in custody of army and was being tried by a military court. In February, it surfaced that the petitioner was convicted by a military court and was shifted to Peshawar Central Prison.

The petitioner, a 31-year-old MBA degree holder, was a teacher at Mumbai Management College. The petitioner stated that he had left India for Afghanistan on November 4, 2012 on valid tourist visa. He left Jalalabad for Peshawar on November 12, 2012 and entered Pakistan with a fake identity card in the name of Hamza sent to him by his Facebook friends from Karak, with who he stayed for two days.

He said that on November 14, 2012, his friend left him at a hotel in Kohat following which he was arrested.

The federal government in its comments in the main writ petition had stated that the petitioner was involved in espionage /anti-state activities and he was subject to Pakistan Army Act, therefore, his petition was not maintainable.

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2016