In a disturbed state of mind, he unwittingly boarded the Samjhauta Express
An agonising wait is set to come to an end for Mumbai resident Hansa Parmar. After six years, she would get to see her long-lost son, Bhavesh Parmar, 32, currently lodged in a Pakistan jail.
Bhavesh is set to complete his jail term on September 28, after which he is expected to be released.
Shaken by the illness and subsequent death of his father, Bhavesh had left home early in 2007. In a disturbed state of mind, he unwittingly found himself on the Samjhauta Express that took him to Pakistan. He was consequently arrested under Section 14 of the Foreigner’s Act in October 2007 for want of requisite papers, and incarcerated at the Central Jail in Lahore.
Recent developments from the diplomatic side have brought cheer to Ms. Parmar’s heart. A letter dated June 22, 2012, from External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, addressed to MP Priya Dutt, assured that the Indian Mission in Islamabad had approached the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs “to expedite the matter of his early release.”
“Nearly 90 per cent of the procedure is completed. I have sent enough identification documents to the respective authorities. Now, I am just waiting,” Ms. Parmar told The Hindu.
Her son’s disappearance was a nasty shock for the mother. “I had gone to my mother’s place after my husband’s demise. Bhavesh was alone at home. He was already very disturbed because he couldn’t take leave during his father’s illness. One day, I decided to check with my neighbours regarding Bhavesh’s wellbeing. That’s when they told me they hadn’t seen any lights in our apartment for eight days.”
For the next one year, Ms. Parmar kept hoping that her son had gone in search of work and would return one day to their suburban house.
Instead, in 2008, officials from the Criminal Investigation Department arrived home to tell her that Bhavesh had been arrested in Pakistan. Following this, the single mother approached Ms. Dutt and MLA Krishna Hegde for assistance.
Awais Sheikh, Bhavesh’s lawyer in Pakistan, who also handled Surjeet Singh’s case, told The Hindu through telephonic and email communications, that he was constantly in touch with the authorities in Islamabad.
“Inshallah, he would be released soon. I may accompany him to Mumbai through the Wagah border on the day of his release, expectedly on September 28,” Mr. Sheikh said.
He said as per the information from the office of the Home Secretary in Pakistan, the Foreign Ministry had written to the High Commission of India, Islamabad, for providing proof of identification/nationality and travel documents for his repatriation.
Mr. Sheikh met Bhavesh in prison this July. He said Bhavesh was eager to return home.
“When I asked him [Bhavesh] how he had boarded the Samjhauta Express and subsequently been arrested in Lahore, he said ‘Kisi ne mujhe bitha diya tha [Someone put me on the train]’,” Mr. Sheikh said.
A few days ago, Ms. Dutt also wrote to Sharad Sabarwal, Indian High Commissioner, Islamabad, requesting him to process Bhavesh’s “nationality verification and travel documents verification to enable him to be sent home as soon as possible.”
Ms. Parmar is hopeful, but she reserves her excitement. “We cannot say for sure. Bhavesh’s release depends on how soon the verification process is completed,” she said.
According to media reports, on January 7, 2012, Pakistan released 183 Indian prisoners and 179 Indian fishermen. Jatin Desai, senior journalist working on the issue of Indian fishermen in Pakistani jails, said in the last two months, Pakistan had released a considerable number of Indian fishermen.