Love and desperation drove Mumbai engineer Hamid Ansari to illegally cross over to Pakistan from Afghanistan in late 2012 leading to his arrest and subsequent imprisonment in the neighbouring country.
Four years later, the desperation to hear a word from their son has prompted Hamid’s parents -- Fauzia Ansari and Nehal Ansari -- to pitch a tent in the city’s protest hotspot, Jantar Mantar, and knock on the Prime Minister’s door.
“The last time I spoke to him was on November 10, 2012 when he told me that he will be back in Mumbai by November 12 and was looking forward to take up a teaching assignment,” Fauzia said.
Little did she know that, “egged on by a group of people in Pakistan who may have trapped him”, Hamid’s false bravado would plunge the family in a state of despair, with virtually no glimmer of hope.
During this period, Fauzia has written to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, met Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj five times, so much so that “she recognises me even from a distance”.
“Allow Hamid to talk to us from prison. We have not spoken to him for over four years now. Please allow him consular access denied to him till date,” reads her letter to Sharif.
“Sushmaji has been extremely cooperative. Our last meeting was in August this year. She assured us that the government was pursuing the case,” Fauzia said, adding that the family would submit a memorandum to the PMO.
Hamid, 31, had entered Pakistan reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online, who was being “forcibly married” off by her family, said Fauzia, a lecturer with a Mumbai college.
It was only in January this year that Fauzia and Nehal came to know from Pakistan government’s submission in the Peshawar High Court, responding to Habeas Corpus petition, that Hamid was in military custody.
He was arrested soon after he entered Pakistan and was tried by a Pakistani military court, which awarded him three years of imprisonment.
“Since he has been in jail since 2012, he has served this sentence already. But there is no clarity about when he will be released. What is intriguing is that a woman Zeenat Shehzadi, who tried to help Hamid, seems to have been targeted by agencies there. She has gone missing,” Fauzia said.