An Indian man who was jailed in Pakistan for illegally crossing the border arrived in India on Tuesday, PTI reported. Pakistan had on Monday released Mumbai resident Hamid Nehal Ansari, who had been in prison since 2015 for illegally entering the country in 2012. He was handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border on Tuesday evening.
Ansari had entered the country to meet a Pashtun woman he had befriended online. On December 15, 2015, the 33-year-old was sent to prison by a military court for allegedly possessing a fake Pakistani identity card. He was then lodged in Peshawar Central Jail. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal labelled Ansari an “Indian spy who had illegally entered Pakistan and was involved in anti-state crimes and forging documents”.
But Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar welcomed Ansari’s repatriation, The Indian Express reported. “We have received a note from Pakistan today that they are releasing Indian national Hamid Nehal Ansari tomorrow,” he said on Monday. “It is a matter of great relief, especially for the family members, that six years of incarceration of the Indian civilian in a Pakistan jail is coming to an end.”
Ansari’s mother Fauzia said his release is a “victory for humanity”, ANI reported. “He went with noble intentions but initially went missing and was later caught and framed,” she said. “He shouldn’t have gone without a visa. His release is a victory for humanity.”
His neighbours in Mumbai’s Versova celebrated with sweets, PTI reported. Jatin Desai, general secretary of the Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy, said Ansari is expected to reach Mumbai on Wednesday.
Sayyad Abid Hussain, a Bhopal resident who had started a Twitter campaign in 2016 for Ansari’s release, thanked the New Delhi and Islamabad and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.