She tries to wipe the tears trickling down her eyes as she manages to balance the cardboard poster in her hands at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. The poster reads “Hon. PM saheb, You are on a peace mission. Let mother meet her son. Languishing for 4 years in Pakistan.” The blue banner behind her reads ‘BRING HAMID BACK’.
This is not Fauzia Ansari’s first visit to Delhi. This Mumbai-based lecturer has been making to and fro visits ever since her son Hamid disappeared on November 4, 2012, crossing into Pakistan through Afghanistan, allegedly after falling in love with a Pakistani girl. The engineering graduate from Mumbai was later arrested in Pakistan and was tried in a military court and sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment on charges of illegally gaining entry into Pakistan. He is currently lodged in Peshawar jail even though he has completed 3 years of the sentence.
The family alleges that he was lured into a honey trap in which he went to rescue a Pakistani girl who was a victim of Vani, a cultural custom found in parts of Pakistan wherein young girls are forcibly married as part of punishment for a crime committed by her male relatives. Tribal elders named jirga dictate this punishment.
Fauzia says “Last we had any conversation with Hamid was on November 10, 2012 when he was in Afghanistan, where he went for a job in aviation. He wanted to return to India but could not. We lodged a missing complaint in Mumbai. When we saw his Facebook chats, it appeared to be a network of 6-7 people luring him to enter Pakistan to help the girl without a passport. He was trapped.”
Hamid’s father Nehal Ansari says “He talked to the girl on Nimbuzz. Though his other chats with people like Atta ur Rehman and a girl Saba is on Facebook. We have learnt that Atta ur Rehman also instigated Hamid to cross the border illegally.”