A visibly traumatised Bhavesh Parmar (32), who finally made it back to India soil after being imprisoned in Pakistan over five years ago for entering the country without valid documents, is yet to come to terms with the fact that he is back in his homeland a free man.
Despite coming face to face with his mother Hansa Parmar after so many years, he could barely express himself when he met her at the Wagah border on Thursday and maintained a blank expression and seemed disoriented throughout.
He did not seem to recognise his sister Kamini either, who was at the Mumbai domestic airport yesterday afternoon when his flight from Amritsar via Delhi landed in the city. Speaking to his mother and sister half in Hindi and half in Gujarati while being taken home in Vile Parle (East), he said, “Pakistan main ghar se dur rehna mushkil thaa, have mane ghar javvanu che” — [It was very difficult to live in Pakistan which was so far away from home, I just want to go home now]. However, Bhavesh looked quite healthy for someone who had just been released from jail.
The Mumbai-based software engineer’s ordeal started even before he stepped onto Pakistani soil in 2007. A much more vocal and composed Hansa said that it was a double tragedy for her, but the days ahead look brighter now that her son was home.
“First it was the loss of my husband in 2006 that left me shattered, and soon after it was the mental condition of my son, who simply walked away one morning. It took me three years, after running from pillar to post, to get the first news of his whereabouts, when a CID personnel walked into our residence and informed us that Bhavesh was in a Pakistani jail,” Hansa said.
“Left with no choice, I approached our local MLA Krishna Hegde, who took up the case with the concerned authorities, including the Indian High Commission and the Red Cross, which made my son’s homecoming possible. I hope that other Indians languishing in Pakistani jails return home soon,” Hansa said, adding that she had spent the long lonely wait by participating in social service and visiting places of worship. Bhavesh’s sister Kamini said that the priority is to ensure that Bhavesh’s mental state is evaluated by a qualified psychiatrist, so that the rehabilitation process can be initiated at the earliest.
Hegde, who took up Parmar’s case said Bhavesh completed his jail term in July 2012, but issues pertaining to his immigration had to be coordinated with the District Collector and the tehsildar at the Wagha/Attari border, Amritsar. Once these formalities were completed, Bhavesh’s journey back home commenced.
“Things looked positive from the time the Indian Embassy in Islamabad issued Bhavesh an Emergency Travel Certificate, which made his homecoming possible,” Hegde said.