Thirty-one-year-old Maidam Prashanth was working as a software engineer in Hyderabad, when he suddenly went missing in April 11, 2017. His family searched for him in every place they could think of, and finally lodged a missing person complaint with the Madhapur police on April 29 that year. “We thought that he was depressed over a relationship, and that’s why he left us,” says an emotional Babu Rao, Prashanth’s father, speaking to reporters on Tuesday. However, it has now come to light that Prashanth is currently in custody in Pakistan, after he entered the neighbouring country without proper documentation.
On Tuesday, Pakistani media reported that two Indians – Prashanth, and another person called Darilal from Madhya Pradesh – were apprehended by the police in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Monday, for entering the country without proper documentation. An undated video of Prashanth that was released shows him speaking in Telugu, addressing his parents, assuring them that he is fine and that he will hopefully be back in India in a month.
While some sections of the Pakistan media are speculating over Prashanth and Darilal’s intentions, the software engineer’s family says a lot of what is happening is confusing and unbelievable. For starters, “Why will he go to Pakistan?” Babu Rao asks.
Searching for love in Switzerland?
Before joining at a software company in Madhapur, Prashanth was working in Bengaluru. His family say that he was in a relationship with a colleague, who is originally from Rajasthan. However, that relationship did not work out, and Prashanth moved to Hyderabad in 2013 to stay with his brother’s family.
Four years later, on April 11, 2017, he went missing, and his family believes this had something to do with the fact that he was depressed about the break-up. Babu Rao says he must have been trying to leave for Switzerland to find his ex, and gotten caught in Pakistan somehow. It is unclear whether Prashanth’s former girlfriend had moved to Switzerland or he had gone to visit her in her native Rajasthan. Babu Rao says that his son never discussed about visiting anywhere. “If he had shared it with us, we wouldn't have let him go.” It is unclear how this journey ended up in Pakistan.
The agent's visit
It was only on Tuesday that citizens of India came to know of Prashanth’s arrest in Pakistan – and Pakistani media claimed the arrest was made on Monday. However, Babu Rao says that he has known about his son’s captivity in Pakistan for several months now.
Earlier this year, a man claiming to be from the Indian intelligence organisation, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), visited Babu Rao at his residence in Visakhapatnam, the father says. “He took all our details and before leaving, he informed us that my son is in Pakistan,” Babu Rao reveals.
“He said, ‘Your son was caught in Pakistan on April 15, 2017’,” Babu Rao says.
That’s exactly four days after Prashanth went missing – and over two-and-a-half years before Pakistan says they apprehended him.
As the news of his son’s capture was confirmed, Babu Rao approached Cyberabad police commissioner, V Sajjanar on Tuesday appealing to him to help bring his son back safely.
“We don’t know whom to approach to bring my son back. He is innocent. He is a normal guy, who had a normal job. Pakistan authorities should release him immediately,” Babu Rao appeals.
“Mom and Dad- are you fine? Everything is fine, here. They have brought me to court from police station. After declaring that I am not a threat, they have brought me here. From here, they will send me to jail. The jail authorities would contact the embassy authorities- after that they will release. I could be released within a month. Both Pakistan and Indian authorities will exchange dialogues, which would take a while. Now they are taking me to jail. From jail, there will be a process to get a bail,” Prashanth says in a video released by the Pakistan authorities.