India has alleged harassment of family members of Kulbushan Jadhav, sentenced to death by Pakistan on espionage and terrorism charges, during their meeting in Islamabad on Monday.
Before being let in for meeting Kulbhushan Jadhav at the Foreign Office building in Islamabad, Pakistani authorities made his wife and mother remove their mangalsutra, bangles and bindi and also made them change their attire, India said on Tuesday, slamming the meeting conducted across a glass panel as “lacking in credibility” and “intimidating”.
Jadhav, who is on death row, met his mother Avanti and wife Chetankul on Monday after 22 months, since his arrest by Pakistan on charges of spying and terrorism.
“Under the pretext of security precautions, the cultural and religious sensibilities of family members were disregarded. This included removal of mangalsutra, bangles and bindi, as well as a change in attire that was not warranted by security.
“The mother of Shri Jadhav was prevented from talking in their mother tongue, although this was clearly the natural medium of communication. She was repeatedly interrupted while doing so and eventually prevented from proceeding further in this regard,” India said in a statement.
The footwear of Jadhav’s wife was also taken away and not returned.
“For some inexplicable reason, despite her repeated requests, the shoes of the wife of Shri Jadhav were not returned to her after the meeting,” India said, and warned “We would caution against any mischievous intent in this regard”.
“The Pakistani press was allowed on multiple occasions to approach family members closely, harass and hector them and hurl false and motivated accusations about Shri Jadhav. This was despite a clear agreement that the media would not be allowed close access,” the statement said.
Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh, who was allowed to accompany the two women, was kept in a separate glass cubicle from the two women, and could watch the proceedings from a distance. He was initially not allowed into the meeting venue.
“Deputy High Commissioner was initially separated from family members who were taken to the meeting without informing him. The meeting was started without his presence and he could join only after pressing the matter with concerned officials. Even then, he was kept behind an additional partition that did not allow him access to the meeting as agreed,” the statement said.
India also voiced concern at the appearance of Jadhav and his well being, remarking that he looked as though he was “under considerable stress” and was “speaking in an atmosphere of coercion” and that his statements “were clearly tutored” and designed to “perpetuate” Pakistan’s allegation that he was a spy and involved in terrorism.
The statement said the meeting took place after requests by India for family access to Jadhav.
India said that ahead of the meeting, the two governments were in touch through diplomatic channels to work out its modalities and format.
“There were clear understandings between the two sides and the Indian side scrupulously abided by all its commitments.
“However, we note with regret that the Pakistani side conducted the meeting in a manner which violated the letter and spirit of our understandings,” India said, listing out the way the meeting was conducted and the manner in which the two women were treated.
The women, who left for India on Monday evening, met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here in the morning. They were accompanied by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
After the Monday meeting, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry had released a video message of Jadhav, in which Jadhav thanked Islamabad for the “grand gesture” for allowing the meeting.
“I requested a meeting with my wife and mother and I am thankful to government of Pakistan for this grand gesture,” he said.
In the video Jadhav is shown as saying that “he worked for Indian intelligence agency RAW” and that he entered Pakistan through Iran. Jadhav also said that he was arrested by Pakistan’s security agencies from Balochistan.
Jadhav, 47, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April, following which India moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in May.
Pakistan has said that the meeting allowed as a “humanitarian gesture” does not mean any change in Pakistan’s stance regarding Jadhav.