Mumbai: In a Mumbai suburb, an entire neighbourhood was glued to the TV set Tuesday to catch a glimpse of Hamid Nihal Ansari, whom they last saw six years ago. Hamid is expected to return here Wednesday. As soon as the 33-year-old, released from a Pakistani jail to be repatriated to India, crossed the Wagah-Attari border and kissed the Indian soil, his neighbours in Versova celebrated by hugging each other and distributing sweets.
Ansari hugged his parents who were present at the border to receive him, six years after he was detained by Pakistani intelligence agencies for entering the country illegally, reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online. Ansari was detained in 2012 after he entered the country from Afghanistan and subsequently sentenced to three years' imprisonment by a military court in 2015 for possessing a fake Pakistani identity card.
The Mumbai resident was lodged at the Peshawar Central Jail after being sentenced by a military court on 15 December, 2015. His three-year jail term ended on 15 December, 2018 but he was not able to leave for India as his legal documents were not ready. "It was an emotional scene as we saw Hamid cross the border around 5.30 pm and kneel down to kiss the Indian soil," said senior journalist and social activist Jatin Desai, who accompanied the Ansari family from Mumbai to Wagah.
Desai, who is general secretary of the Pakistan-India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy, sat in the visitors' enclosure with Hamid Ansari's father Nihal and mother Fouzia at the Wagah border after reaching there in the morning. "We expect to return with Hamid to Mumbai tomorrow," he said. Nihal Ansari, former bank officer, expressed happiness over his son's release and thanked the governments of India and Pakistan.
Sayyad Abid Hussain, a Bhopal resident who started a Twitter campaign in 2016 to bring Ansari back, also thanked the two governments and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. "This is the victory of humanity and the struggle by Hamid's mother Fauzia, a former teacher," Hussain said. He recalled that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had retweeted Fauzia Ansari's tweet seeking the release of her son.
Updated Date: Dec 18, 2018 20:31:52 IST