New Delhi(PTI): More than three years after an Indian engineer from Mumbai went missing in Pakistan where he had reportedly gone to meet a girl he had befriended on the Internet, authorities have admitted that he has been in army custody and is facing a trial in military courts there. However, the officials did not provide details about the charges that have been slapped on him.
According to Pakistan media reports, deputy attorney general Musarratullah presented a reply from the ministry of defence in a divisional bench of the Peshawar High Court, which stated that an Indian identified as Nehal Hamid Ansari, 28, was being held by the army and would be tried by a military court. On hearing this, the divisional bench of Peshawar High court disposed of the case which was heard for over 18 months before the government admitted that Ansari was being held in the country.
In November 2012 Ansari had travelled to Afghanistan for job prospects. He later crossed over to Pakistan from Afghanistan to meet a Kohat-based woman whom he had befriended through social media. It was also reported that Ansari was staying at a hotel in Kohat when police, assisted by the Intelligence Bureau officials, arrested him on November 12, 2012. Since his arrest his family and friends in India were totally unaware of Ansari’s whereabouts.
After Ansari went missing, his mother, Fauzia Ansari, ran from pillar to post to know the whereabouts of her son. She then filed a complaint at a police station in Mumbai and contacted the Afghan consulate. She later sent an application to the human rights cell of the Supreme Court in Islamabad, which forwarded the case to the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances in March 2014. In April, the commission directed the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Home and Tribal Affairs department to form a joint investigation team to trace Ansari. An FIR was subsequently lodged at the city police station in Karak district in connection with Ansari’s case.
Meanwhile, Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy in a press statement said “It is heartening to know that young Hamid Ansari is alive and in the custody of Pakistan’s army. There is no doubt that it is only through a sustained judicial effort that brought the Pakistan army and government to respond to the court and at least acknowledge that Hamid Ansari is in their custody. Though, he should have been produced in a court long back.”
The statement further said, “We take this opportunity to recognise the humanitarian efforts of friends, well-wishers and lawyers. It has been a long struggle for Hamid’s parents. We appeal to the Pakistan government to release him as he has already been in their custody for more than three years. We also request the Pakistan government to allow Hamid Ansari’s parents to meet him in person”.