Mumbai: Back home after six years in a Pakistani jail, software engineer Hamid Nihal Ansari Thursday said he wants to move on, instead of ‘reopening old wounds’ about the pain he endured during this period. Ansari, 33, who reached Mumbai to a cheering welcome by friends and relatives, said he wants to get a job and then find a suitable match for himself (pehle naukri phir chhokri). “I don’t want to recall what happened with me (while in Pakistan). I want to look at the future,” he said.
Ansari was arrested in Pakistan in 2012 for allegedly entering that country from Afghanistan reportedly to meet a woman he had befriended online. Pakistan slapped espionage charges against him. He was repatriated on Tuesday and handed over to India at the Wagah-Attari border.Ansari and his parents landed here Thursday morning from Delhi by an Air India flight. Relatives, friends and well-wishers greeted and cheered for him as he came out of the airport.
The family then left for their residence in suburban Versova. When they reached home, they were greeted by a large number of neighbours who were waiting to catch his glimpse. Speaking to media persons at the airport, Ansari said, “I made some mistakes but now I want to look ahead to the future.” “I can’t describe my feelings of the moment I crossed the border and touched the Indian soil and caught a glimpse of my parents, who were waiting on the Indian side,” he said.
“I then realised how much they must have suffered for me. I wanted to meet them immediately, but could not as I was on the Pakistani side for some time,” Ansari said. Asked about an eye injury he apparently suffered during interrogation at the Pakistani prison, Ansari said the interrogation process cannot be avoided.
“During the interrogation, the retina of my eye got ruptured. But, they admitted me to a government hospital and it was treated…they compensated for it (treatment),” he said.
Ansari attributed an alleged attack on him in Peshawar prison to a “misunderstanding” which escalated.
On his plans, the software engineer said first there will be a celebration with the family. “I have to find a job and after that I also have to find a woman to get married,” he said. Ansari was imprisoned in the Peshawar jail after being sentenced by a military court on December 15, 2015.
According to official sources, India issued 96 notes verbales to Pakistan seeking consular access to Ansari. The decision to release him was taken due to relentless pressure from New Delhi, they said.
Shortly before he reached India, his mother Fauzia had told reporters that the prayers of the family and of all those who wished for his safe return were answered. His father Nihal had said it was a new dawn for them.
Ansari and his family have thanked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her ministry for persisting with the case and taking it up with Islamabad.
His jail term ended on December 15 but he was not able to leave for India as his legal documents were not ready. On Thursday, the Peshawar High Court gave Pakistan government a month’s time to complete his repatriation process.
Ansari had an emotional interaction with Swaraj on Wednesday as he narrated the difficult phase he had to endure through in Pakistan.