Hamid Nehal Ansari returns

Pakistan’s Foreign Office has announced that Indian national Hamid Nehal Ansari is being repatriated on the completion of his prison sentence. This announcement has come days after India had sought his immediate release.

The external affairs ministry had raised the issue of Ansari in a formal communication, sent to Pakistan on December 11 amid fears that he would be held for almost a month for completion of formalities after his three-year sentence ended on December 15. He had already spent 6 years in Pakistan for a sentence of 3 years.

External affairs ministry had confirmed that it had received a note from Pakistan stating that Ansari would be released on Tuesday.

Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said it was a matter of “great relief” that six years of incarceration of an “Indian civilian in Pakistan” was ending. Pakistan should also “take action to also end the misery” of other Indian nationals and fishermen in Pakistani jails who had completed their sentences, Kumar had added.

“I am very relieved and happy that Hamid (Ansari) is able to come back to India. I would like to thank the foreign affairs ministry including Sushma Swaraj for the efforts made to seek his release. The Pakistan high commission has also been very cooperative throughout this,” said BJP leader Krishna Hegde. He has been acting as a liaison for the last three years after Ansari’s mother Fauzia Ansari – a college teacher – approached him for help.

“We also await Pakistan’s response to the visit of an Indian medical team to meet mentally unsound prisoners with a view to facilitate their nativity verification and subsequent repatriation. We hope that Pakistan would respond and organise an early visit of the Joint Judicial Committee so that the issues of prisoners can be dealt with in a humanitarian and timely manner,” he added.

Ansari was tried by a military court on charges of espionage after being arrested in 2012 and given a three-year sentence in December 2015. At that time all legal experts had voiced their opinion saying that he should have been freed earlier as he had already spent three years in jail at the time of his sentencing.