Swaraj comes to rescue of Indian citizen lodged in Pakistan jail

| Updated: Aug 07, 2016 04:20 IST

New Delhi, Aug 6. (ANI): External Minister Sushma Swaraj today asked the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan to seek consular access to jailed Indian citizen Hamid Ansari in Pakistan and to report back on the same. "I have asked our High Commissioner in Pakistan to seek Consular access to Hamid Ansari in hospital/jail and report," tweeted Swaraj. The minister swung into action after reports of Ansari being attacked by jail inmates came to light. Earlier on Friday, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said in a press briefing that there is a petition in the Peshawar High Court, requesting the court to summon the superintendent of the jail, where Ansari is currently lodged. The petition was filed after Indian High Commission in Islamabad reported that Ansari was being attacked in prison. He said the Indian government has also reiterated its earlier stand to provide consular access to Ansari and has asked the Government of Pakistan to allow him to speak to his family. Indian national Hamid Nehal Ansari (31), hailing from Mumbai, had entered Pakistan with a fake identity card reportedly to meet a girl with whom he had befriended online. He was arrested on November 14, 2012, and later sentenced to three years' imprisonment for espionage. According to Dawn, Ansari was attacked twice in the Peshawar Central Prison in the last two months. Superintendent of the prison Masoodur Rehman also confirmed the incidents, but insisted that they were of minor nature and that such incidents did happen in prisons. He also said Ansari had been kept in the death cell as he can't be kept in a normal barrack along with other prisoners for the sake of his security. Qazi Mohammad Anwar, Ansari's lawyer, said his client had been kept in the death cell with a hardened criminal awaiting execution for a murder. Anwar said the jail superintendent should give an undertaking to the court that attacks won't happen against his client in future, but the latter refused to give a written guarantee in this regard. The superintendent complained that the jail was overcrowded as it was made for 350 people but presently had around 3,000. The bench directed him and social activist Rukhshanda Naz, who represented Ansari's mother Fauzia Ansari, to sit together with the Indian citizen to plan his foolproof security in prison. During the hearing into an application of Ansari on Aug 2, the bench had summoned the jail superintendent. A petition of Ansari has also been pending with the court seeking the inclusion of his period of detention prior to his conviction by a military court in his jail term. He was held in 2012 but was convicted on Dec 17, 2015 by a military court. He was taken into custody by intelligence agencies and local police in Kohat district in Nov 2012. Later, on January 13 the high court was informed in reply to a habeas corpus petition filed by Fauzia Ansari that Hamid was in the custody of the Pakistani Army and was being tried by a military court. (ANI)