NEW DELHI — Hamid Nihal Ansari, who returned to India after spending six years in a Pakistani jail, Wednesday said the motivation to take care of his parents had sustained him during his imprisonment.
Ansari (33), a software engineer, was arrested in Pakistan in 2012 for illegally entering the country from Afghanistan, reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online. Authorities in Pakistan had slapped charges of espionage against him.
“After six years, when I saw them (his family) I was still in Pakistan. They were crying and they spread their arms while Pakistani authorities were completing paperwork with me and I kept asking them to speed up. I just ran towards them (family) and fell on my knees, ‘Ammi mujhe maaf kar de’. I was asking for forgiveness from everyone,” he told India Today in an interview.
The Mumbai resident, who returned to India after crossing the Wagah-Attari border, was imprisoned in the Peshawar Central Jail after being sentenced by a military court on December 15, 2015.
He Wednesday said he wanted to meet the girl because she was in distress.
“She asked for help and I started hunting for a visa. There were people from Pakistan who posed as friends and said they would help. I thought from the heart and not from brain. They asked me to come through Afghanistan. They kept fake ids and documents in my pocket,” he told the channel.
He said there were policemen waiting for him before he reached the girl’s house and arrested him.
“The moment I got arrested I thought I was doomed. That moment I thought I was never going to go home but then as time went by I started getting hope that I would go home,” he said
“The first three years I spent underground alone, sometimes they would give me food, and sometimes they wouldn’t. I had this motivation that I have to go back home and serve my parents. I have given them a huge pain and this will be my repentance. This is the least I can do,” he said in the interview.
Early Wednesday, Ansari had an emotional interaction with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as tears rolled down his cheeks while narrating his ordeal.
Officials said Ansari became emotional while explaining the difficult phase he had to endure in Pakistan.
According to official sources, India issued 96 notes verbales to Pakistan seeking consular access to Ansari. The decision to release him was on account of relentless pressure from New Delhi, they said.