Hamid Nihal Ansari, the software engineer who has returned home after spending six years in a Pakistani jail, on Wednesday had an emotional interaction with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as tears rolled down his cheeks while narrating his ordeal.
“Please forgive me... Thank you so much,” Ansari, accompanied by his mother and a number of family members, told Swaraj as she embraced and patted him.
On her part, Swaraj, who was personally monitoring Ansari’s case, hailed his courage and said destiny had taken him to that country and that he should not feel sorry.
“You have lots of courage… You should not say sorry,” Swaraj told a teary-eyed Ansari, who returned to India on Tuesday.
Ansari was arrested in Pakistan in 2012 for illegally entering Pakistan from Afghanistan, reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online. Authorities in Pakistan had slapped charges of espionage against him.
Ansari’s mother Fauzia too thanked Swaraj and her ministry for all the assistance to the family in its legal battle in Pakistan.
“Mera Bharat Mahan. Meri madam (Swaraj) Mahan (My India is great. My madam is great,” an emotional Fauzia told Swaraj while hugging her.
Officials said 33-year-old Ansari became emotional while explaining the difficult phase he had to endure in Pakistan.
Ansari and the family thanked Swaraj and the ministry of external affairs for persisting with the case and taking it up with Islamabad.
WATCH: An emotional Hamid Ansari meets Sushma Swaraj
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.
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.
Shortly before his arrival on Tuesday, Ansari’s mother Fauzia Ansari told reporters that the prayers of the family and of all those who wished for his safe return had been answered.
His father, Nihal Ansari, said, “It is a new dawn for us.”
Ansari’s jail term ended on December 15 but he was not able to leave for India as his legal documents were not ready.
On Thursday, the Peshawar high court gave the Pakistan government a month's deadline to complete his repatriation process.