Years ago, Hamid Ansari believed love would set him free. Today, after spending ages in a Peshawar prison, he knows that isn’t always the case.
The parents of the Mumbai-based engineer have reached Amritsar in the hope that a meeting with Pakistani top official Sartaj Aziz would help secure his release.
Though Ansari’s mother Fauzia has been running from pillar to post in her attempts to get him pardoned, she seems no closer to achieving her goal than the day he was arrested in November 2012. On Saturday, she was spotted carrying a placard stating: “Honourable Aziz saheb, you are here on a peace mission. Let mother meet son.”
Ansari was just 27 when he left for Afghanistan in search of a job on November 5, 2012. Later, his family came to know that he had fallen in love with a woman from Kohat in western Pakistan. The youth crossed the Pakistani border to prevent her from marrying another man, only to end up behind bars for forgery and illegal trespass.
Police said Ansari was allegedly told by friends in Pakistan that entering the country from Afghanistan was a breeze.
Ansari’s parents are being supported by the Hind-Pak Dosti Manch, an NGO.
His father, Nihal Ahmed, was equally fervent in his appeal for mercy. “We last spoke to our son on November 10, 2012. We are here to appeal to the Pakistan government that Hamid be freed because he has already served the three-year sentence imposed upon him. In fact, it’s almost four years now,” he told mediapersons.
Fauzia met external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in August, and was assured all possible help from the Union government. “At least give us a Pakistani visa, so we can see our son. We applied over 20 times, but we don’t even know if they are even processing our requests,” she lamented.
The engineer’s mother said she fears for Ansari’s safety, considering that he has been attacked by fellow-inmates at least thrice since his ordeal began. “We are from a middle-class family, and have already spent lakhs in our attempts to free our son,” she added.
Ansari’s parents said humanitarianism must transcend any strain in India-Pakistan ties. “Human relations mean more than politics. People on both sides of the border have hearts big enough to understand the relationship between a son and his mother. I am positive that my son will return,” said Fauzia.
Aziz is Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s advisor on foreign affairs.