Nihal Ansari, a distraught father, finds it difficult to go back to his home in Mumbai. The distance that he has travelled from Mumbai to Delhi has turned out to be a journey from hope to despair. “What do I tell his mother? She will be implacable to know we have lost our battle to get our son back,” Ansari said.
The Supreme Court on Thursday disposed of a petition by Ansari and his wife Fauzia — parents of 29-year-old Hamid, who has not come home since November 2012. The court told Hamid’s parents it could not issue any order to the government and that it had a limited jurisdiction. “We can’t do anything in this matter. We can’t issue any directions,” said the court.
Hamid, a management graduate, fell in love with a Pashtun girl from Pakistan who he had met on the Facebook. They got closer over the internet, phone and phone messengers before she called him one day, crying. She said her parents wanted to forcibly get her married. Hamid then decided to travel to Pakistan and meet her parents.
He went to Afghanistan on a tourist visa and then sneaked illegally into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Within two days, he vanished into thin air.
The first news of Hamid came after almost two years. Thanks to the relentless efforts by Hamid’s parents, Zeenat Shahzadi, a Pakistani journalist, confirmed in September that their son was in the custody of Pakistan police. Buoyed with this piece of information, the parents moved the court, pleading for directives to the government to intensify efforts to get Hamid back.
The legal battle, however, met its dead-end on Thursday when the court wrapped up the petition. Additional Solicitor General Neeraj K Kaul submitted that the Indian High Commission in Islamabad has written to the Pakistan government but the court could not issue any order in the matter. The court accepted this contention.
“If the Modi government could raise its voice against criminals like Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Dawood Ibrahim, why not do it for my son who has not committed any crime ever in his life? We have also written to the Prime Minister personally and officially but to no avail. I had thought this government would show a big heart and some courage to bring my son back after it was confirmed that he is in Pakistan but I was wrong,” Ansari told The Indian Express, after he came out of the court room. Ansari is a retired bank executive while Fauzia is a college lecturer in a Mumbai college.
Ansari said he is left looking for avenues to raise his grievances. “We don’t know where to go now… what else to do. If the Supreme Court and the government tell us they cannot do anything more, who else could help us? But we will not give up our hopes. We shall keep fighting,” he said.