Pak court sentences Mumbai youth for 3 yrs on charges of ‘spying’

  • Imtiaz Ahmad, Hindustan Times, Islamabad
  • Updated: Feb 16, 2016 20:56 IST
Hamid Ansari’s parents showing his picture in Mumbai. He had befriended a Kohat-based woman through Facebook and had entered Pakistan from Afghanistan to meet her. (ANI File Photo)

Indian national Hamid Nehal Ansari, who travelled to Pakistan in 2012 to meet a woman he befriended online, has been moved to Peshawar central jail after a military court gave him a three-year prison term for “spying” and entering the country without documents.

Ansari, 31, was taken into custody by police and Intelligence Bureau officials at Kohat in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province within days of arriving in Pakistan. It is believed he was arrested following a tip-off as he did not have travel documents.

The military court in Kohat, 70 km from Peshawar, convicted Ansari on Saturday, according to media reports. The Mumbai resident has the right to appeal under the Pakistan Army Act, the reports said.

Local media reports said police had found maps of “sensitive installations” in Ansari’s possession. He had seven Facebook accounts and 30 email addresses, the reports said. It was not clear what had happened to the woman for whom Ansari had crossed the border.

According to Ansari’s family, the engineering and management graduate crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan, where he had gone in November 2012 with a 90-day tourist visa.

Ansari’s parents have dismissed claims that he was involved in any illegal activities and said he travelled to Pakistan to meet a woman he had befriended online. His mother Fauzia Ansari told the media her son was in touch with some Pakistanis on Facebook who suggested he could cross the porous border from the Afghan side.

Before his arrest, Ansari was in touch with his family. However, his family became worried after communications were suspended and filed a complaint at a police station in Mumbai. They also contacted the Afghan consulate in Mumbai.

After Ansari was reported missing, Pakistani officials maintained they had no information about him. After Fauzia Ansari filed a petition in the Peshawar high court, the defence ministry acknowledged last month that he was in the custody of the Pakistan Army and facing trial in a military court.

Fauzia Ansari also sent an application to the Pakistan Supreme Court’s human rights cell, which forwarded the matter to the Commi­ssion of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances. The commission directed Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s home department in 2014 to set up a joint investigation team to trace Ansari.

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