Attari/WagahHamid Nehal Ansari, the man from Mumbai who was released from a Pakistani jail after six years for alleged espionage charges, crossed over to the Indian side at the Attari-Wagah border in Punjab on Tuesday.
A weary looking bespectacled Ansari in a jacket, muffler and a Pashtun cap, was welcomed by his parents, Nehal and Fauzia, who were waiting at the border along with a large contingent of India-Pakistan friendship activists and officials.
Stepping on to the Indian side, the 33-year-old along with his family knelt down and touched the soil of his motherland with their foreheads.
As Ansari stood up, he first hugged his mother and then embraced his father in an emotional reunion.
The three were then whisked away by the authorities without allowing any interaction with the media.
In Mumbai, Bharatiya Janata Party activist and former legislator Krishna Hegde, who helped the family in the past few years, expressed happiness following Ansari’s return.
“Very happy for Hamid, specially his parents who have worked very hard for his release and his family,” Hegde said.
He also thanked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and officials from both India and Pakistan.
“A special mention should also be made for his lawyers, media and NGOs who have supported his parents for the past six years,” Hegde said.
Pakistan had alleged that Ansari, an engineer, was an “Indian spy” who illegally entered the country. Islamabad accused him of involvement in anti-state crimes, forging documents, and jailed him.
For the family, it was an ordeal since November 2012 when he left the country for Kabul for employment and then was reported “missing”.
He reportedly became friendly with a Pakistan girl on social media and reached Kohat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to save her from a forced marriage.
On November 12, 2012, Ansari crossed over from Afghanistan border in Jalalabad to Peshawar in Pakistan where he was nabbed by Pakistan intelligence.
Later, a military court sentenced him to three years in jail, a term that he completed on December 15.
On Monday, the External Affairs Ministry said it has received a note from Pakistan that they would be releasing Ansari on Tuesday.
“It is a matter of great relief, especially for the family members, that six years of incarceration of the Indian civilian in Pakistan jail is coming to an end,” Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.