India rejected a man’s purported video confession that Pakistan peddled on Tuesday to reaffirm its allegations about detaining an Indian naval officer for espionage and encouraging terrorist activities in Balochistan and Karachi.
Pakistani military spokesperson Lt General Asim Bajwa began a media briefing with a six-minute video of the “Indian spy”, who makes a series of comments that match Islamabad’s allegations about India fuelling a separatist movement in Balochistan and inciting violence in financial capital Karachi.
India repeatedly denied both charges, saying the official took premature retirement from the navy and has nothing to do with the government.
The Indian foreign ministry said the man, identified as Kulbhushan Yadav, was harassed while operating a legitimate business from Iran.
“While we probe this aspect further, his presence now in Pakistan raises questions, including the possibility of his abduction from Iran,” it said, and asked Pakistan to grant consular access to Yadav.
The video features multiple quick edits and the audio appears to go out of sync from time to time, which hint that it was shot under duress.
The man’s statements “clearly indicates tutoring”, the foreign ministry said and, hence, “We are naturally concerned about his well-being in these circumstances”.
The footage shows the man saying he began working as an intelligence recruit after the attack on 2001 Parliament in New Delhi in which nine people were killed.
He apparently set up a small business in Iran that provided him cover for frequent trips to Pakistan before becoming an agent for Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) — India’s external intelligence agency — in 2013.
He says he was caught trying to cross into Pakistan from Iran on March 3.
“Kulbhushan Yadav is a serving Indian naval officer whose primary mission was to foment terrorism in Karachi and Balochistan (Pakistan’s largest but least developed province),” Lt General Bajwa said. “He converted to Islam and worked at Gadani under the cover of a scrap dealer.”
He alleged that Yadav was working for the Indian spy agency and “there is an active RAW network in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan”.
The Express Tribune newspaper quoted Bajwa as saying that Pakistan and Balochistan’s maps were recovered from Yadav. “He used to establish a network of operatives, provide funds, arrange and smuggle people for terrorism in the country,” he said.
Pakistan last week summoned Indian high commissioner Gautam Bambawale to lodge its protest over “subversive activities” of the alleged R&AW officer.
Government sources in New Delhi told PTI that Yadav has nothing to do with India’s external intelligence agency.
There is no proof that the retired navy officer, who owns a cargo business in Iran, was arrested in Balochistan as claimed by Pakistan, they said.
Yadav owns a small ship and used to carry cargo from Bandar Abbas and Chabahar ports in Iran and adjoining areas to various destinations, sources told PTI.
He could have been arrested after he strayed into Pakistani waters.