Fauzia Ansari, a desperate Indian mother, awaits the release of her son Hamid Nehal Ansari, who has spent almost six years in detention in Pakistan. He had entered Pakistan from Afghanistan in November 2012 without proper travel documents and having a fake Pakistani Computerised National Identity Card).
Since then, the ordeal of 33-year-old Hamid had started. Presently, he has been imprisoned in Mardan jail undergoing three-year term awarded to him by a military court under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952.
Ms Ansari, a college teacher, has been sending requests from time-to- time to different forums and high-ups in his country as well as in Pakistan ever since her son had gone missing in November 2012. She has also been posting requests on social media to Pakistani authorities for setting her son free.
“A desperate mother pleads the government of Pakistan to release her son, languishing in Pak jail since six years, in the holy month of Ramazan on humanitarian ground,” she states in one of her status posted on Facebook during Ramazan. She adds: “This is the sixth year, the whole family is in immense pain. Hamid befriended on Facebook with a few Pakistani friends and entered Pakistan on invitation of friends, without proper documentation.”
Ms Ansari remained in contact with some social activists, who helped in pursuing her son’s case before different forums including Peshawar High Court and Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED).
Recently, the federal government gave assurance to the high court that, if the Indian prisoner was not charged in any other offence, he would be deported to India via Wagha border after completion of his prison term in December 2018.
A Peshawar High Court bench on August 7 disposed of his writ petition, seeking remission in his prison term. While the bench comprising Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim did not agree with his counsel’s contention to award him remission, deputy attorney general Mussaratullah Khan assured that he would be deported after completion of his prison term.
If the government sticks to its commitment, it is expected that after four months Ms Ansari will finally meet her son and the miseries of this family might ends.
The government agencies claim that the prisoner was arrested for espionage and was convicted for the same offence. The version of Hamid is altogether different. If his side of the story is believed, it is like a Bollywood movie.
He claims that he had developed friendship with a girl residing in Kohat on internet and she was facing some problem. He decided to enter Pakistan illegally so as to help her out and for that purpose another of his internet friend had prepared fake CNIC for him showing his name as “Hamza”.
The case of Hamid has taken several twists and turns during last around six years. Ms Ansari states in different applications sent to high-ups that her son had gone to Afghanistan in November 2012 and till November 10, 2012, he was in contact with her. She claims that Hamid was expected to return to India around November 15, 2012, but he did not return by them and also become incommunicado.
Initially, Ms Ansari sent an application to the human rights cell of Supreme Court of Pakistan, which had forwarded the case to CIED in March 2014. The commission on April 10, 2014, directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa home department to constitute a joint investigation team for tracing the whereabouts of Hamid.
The commission had also ordered the provincial police officer to register FIR of his disappearance.
An FIR was registered on May 12, 2014 at KDA police station on the complaint of Ms Ansari. A joint investigation team also continued to hold meetings for tracing the man. In one of their meetings it was observed that as Hamid had entered Pakistan without any valid documents, therefore, his case was not that of enforced disappearance.
Later on, Ms Ansari filed a habeas corpus petition in PHC through Zeenat Shehzadi, who was given special power of attorney by her. The woman went missing on August 19, 2015, when she was taken away by armed men while she was travelling in an auto-rickshaw in Lahore. After remaining missing for two years, it was announced last year that she had been recovered. Her recovery shrouds in mystery.
A little clue about Hamid was first found by the end of 2014 when a police officer informed the high court that a suspected person with a fake Pakistani CNIC was taken into custody by police in Kohat and subsequently handed over to intelligence agencies.
A sub-inspector of KDA police station, Faizullah Khan, had submitted his statement on oath stating that a suspect was arrested by the rider squad after information was provided by an inspector of the Intelligence Bureau, Naeem Khan on November 14, 2012. He stated that the suspect was interrogated by an inspector Ibrahimullah Khan and his luggage was brought from Palwasha Hotel, where he was staying. He said that the suspect was later on taken away by personnel of ISI and MI.
Subsequently, the high court continued to seek replies from the ministries of interior and defence. Following repeated notices when the ministry of defence finally filed its reply it surfaced in early 2016 that Hamid was in the custody of military.
The DAG, Mussaratullah Khan, submitted a brief reply on behalf of the ministry of defence on January 13, 2016, wherein it was informed that Hamid was in the custody of military and was being tried by court martial.
In the light of the reply, a two-member bench of the high court headed by then chief justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel disposed of the habeas corpus petition filed by Ms Ansari.
Another petition was filed on his behalf, seeking directives from the high court to include his period to detention prior to his conviction in his prison term. However, that petition was disposed of in 2016.
Some social activists believe that Hamid has already paid the price for his illegal act and as a goodwill gesture the new government should remit his remaining prison term so that he could return back home.
Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2018