amid Nihal Ansari, then 27, left home on November 5, 2012, claiming he was headed to Afghanistan in search of a job. But his family later came to know from the officials and the associates that he was in love with a woman from the Kohat region of western Pakistan and had decided to cross over to prevent her marriage with another man. Ansari was convinced by friends and contacts in Pakistan that he could enter the country easily from Afghanistan. He created many Facebook accounts and multiple email addresses; he was a social media bug and had many female crushes. But one stuck to his choice was this Pakistani girl. They were chatting with each other for a long time; sharing photos and phone numbers established a close bond between them. One day, the lady love told Ansari that her parents had got to know about the relationship and were getting her married to someone. Then, she disappeared. Ansari had gone to Kabul to cross the border illegally into Pakistan so that he could rescue her from the forced marriage. In her last phone call to him, she was crying and said that her sister had told the parents about their relationship. Her Facebook was likely deleted.
Ansari had countless Facebook chats with a few Pakistanis to discuss his dilemma. Transcripts of those, shared by his parents, helped to piece together what had happened. Three online Pakistani friends not only encouraged Ansari to cross the border illegally from Kabul to Kohat but also gave him detailed instructions. One of them even instigated him to not waste time and get there to save his lover. These friends were Atta-ur Rehman Awan, a graphic designer with Dastak, an Urdu magazine in Kohat; one Shazia Khan who claimed to be a medical doctor in Islamabad and the mysterious Saba Khan. This is the story that disturbed Hamid Nihal Ansari and he headed towards Pakistan making fake Pakistani I-Card. He lived virtually with many fake identities and living fake was a part of his lifestyle.
A hysterical Ansari did all he could do to find out about his love. He even found another Kohat woman on Facebook and requested her to find out. She couldn’t. He decided to try and get a Visa to Kohat, making several calls to the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi. As a Rotarian, he managed to get an official invitation from the Peshawar Chapter of the Rotary club to visit Peshawar and Kohat to interact with the local youth. The Pakistani government wasn’t taken in by the idea. He met Mumbai-based activist Jatin Desai of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy. Perhaps, Desai could help him get a Visa. Kohat is in the heart of a conflict zone so Desai advised him to forget the girl.
Ansari’s madness for that girl was visible to many of his close associates; he went from Mumbai to Kabul and illegally crossed over into Pakistan to look for a Pashtun woman he had fallen in love with through the internet. The Peshawar High Court had asked the government to find out where Hamid Ansari is, and also asked an Islamabad-based commission to investigate. Those days, Hamid was working as a management teacher in Mumbai, told his parents that he had an offer for a job at the Kabul Airport. His parents were against the idea, fearing for his safety. But he insisted that it would be good for his CV. As he faked everywhere, he lied to his parent’s too. His parents last spoke to him on November 10, 2012, when he told them that he would be returning soon as the visit to Afghanistan was not fruitful. However, after November 15, when his phone was not reachable, his parents lodged a complaint at the Versova police station. Hamid Ansari’s mother is a college lecturer in Mumbai. His father is a banker. They emailed all three people and got no replies. Most phone numbers in the chats have stopped taking calls from the Indian numbers. Fauzia Ansari had a relative in Dubai, who said that he had found a dhaba in Kohat for Hamid to stay. He was there for about two days, after which the “agencies” took him away.
They started probing his emails and Facebook pages for a clue. The last email was sent to a girl identified as ‘Saba’, stating that he was with Attubhai. He had been in love with a woman in Pakistan over the internet for two years. She lives in a place where honour killing is not uncommon. When his parents went through his Facebook pages they learnt about his friendship with a few Pakistani nationals. The police probe revealed that the email was sent from Pakistan. This confirmed that his last location was in Pakistan. His parents tried calling his Facebook friends but they never spoke to them. How they accessed to his email and Facebook accounts is altogether a different story, but that’s how they too built up a story. If parents are to be believed, then, they turned on his computer, they found his Facebook and email account open. Looking into those for clues, they discovered what had happened. Some even allege that his visit to Pakistan is pre-planned with an agenda and that was beautifully covered by his agents in the enemy country. Well, after knowing her son’s location, his mother Fauzia filed the writ of Habeas Corpus in April 2014 with the help of Abdul Rauf Rohilla, district governor of the Pakistan Rotary Club Midtown. She also got in touch with a Pakistan-based journalist who travelled to the area from where her son had gone missing. She spoke to the people whom he had befriended over Facebook. She also met the father of the woman for whom her son travelled to Pakistan. The father told her that his daughter was married to another person but refused to share her contact details.
It is a well-known fact that Imran Khan always had the support of the Pakistani Army ISI and different radical groups with whom he shares much better relationship that other previous regimes. After him taking over the powers, the Army ISI and these radical powers can be seen in forefront. Immediately after coming to power, his first gesture was opening up the Kartarpur Corridor. We’ve seen the Khalistani groups taking over this event and they have become much vocal. Recently, the terror activities were noted in Punjab which was quite peaceful over the years. Even the Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has tweeted that the Kartarpur Corridor is nothing but a ploy by Pakistani Army and ISI to revive Khalistani movement and disturb Punjab. Now, this second gesture of releasing Hamid Ansari can’t be seen in isolation.
Their son’s case took a severe toll on the lives of Nihal and Fauzia and not just in the Rs 20 lakh that they’ve spent so far on fees to the Pakistani lawyers and the numerous rounds made to Delhi. That is their fate written by their own blood. No one has to be blamed for it. Ansari made a huge mistake, but one feels angrier about his Pakistani friends online, who first gave him this crazy advice to go to Kohat via Kabul and bring the girl back to Mumbai. Ansari reportedly had the film Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge in his mind – he wanted the father to willingly let the girl go with him. The chats contained lover girl’s father’s address and phone number. Perhaps, the “agencies” thought that he is an Indian spy, given the paranoia in Pakistan about India’s alleged activities on the Afghan border. At the same time, Indian investigators probably thought he is being used against India. Having read his long Facebook chats, both were convinced that he was nothing more than a naive young man whose love was blind. Many Indians have a fascination for beautiful Pashtuns. Ansari was perhaps one of them. The maximum punishment for illegally crossing into Pakistan’s borders is six months in jail. Ansari has been in ISI custody for over two years.
It’s the kind support from the Indian government that has approached Pakistan several times to ask about Ansari, interestingly Shiv Sena leader Gajanan Kirtikar helped them run from pillar to post until their son returns to Mumbai. He was released from Mardan jail and was shifted to Islamabad for his onward journey to India. With his parents and his brother waiting on the Indian side of the border, 33-year-old Ansari stepped over the line after the retreat ceremony and fell immediately to the ground to kiss the soil.
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