‘Didn’t get free access to Kulbhushan Jadhav’: India slams Pakistan
Thursday’s developments added another twist to the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, 50, as only four days remain under an ordinance promulgated by the Pakistan government to file a review petition in the Islamabad high court.Updated: Jul 17, 2020, 04:31 IST
A meeting between Indian officials and Kulbhushan Jadhav on Thursday ended inconclusively, with New Delhi accusing Islamabad of breaching its assurance of providing unimpeded access to the former naval officer sentenced to death in Pakistan for alleged involvement in espionage.
Pakistan provided consular access to Jadhav for only the second time since he was detained in March 2016. But when two Indian consular officials went to meet him, they found Pakistani officials with “an intimidating demeanour” near Jadhav and a camera being used to record the conversation, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said.
The Indian officials met Jadhav to discuss filing a review petition in Islamabad high court against his death sentence by the deadline of July 20, and required privacy to talk about the matter.
“The consular officers could not engage Jadhav on his legal rights and were prevented from obtaining his written consent for arranging his legal representation,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
“In the light of these circumstances, the Indian consular officers came to the conclusion that the consular access being offered by Pakistan was neither meaningful nor credible. After lodging a protest, they left the venue.”
Srivastava said India had taken up Pakistan’s offer of consular access only after receiving an assurance regarding “unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional access”.
Thursday’s developments added another twist to the case of Jadhav, 50, as only four days remain under an ordinance promulgated by the Pakistan government to file a review petition in the Islamabad high court.
Srivastava said India made more than 12 requests for consular access to Jadhav over the past year. “This consular access is of utmost importance, as it is the basis for a process of effective review and reconsideration ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in July 2019 of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav by a Pakistani military tribunal,” he said.
The Pakistani ordinance, promulgated ostensibly to comply with ICJ’s order, envisages an Indian consular official filing the review petition. Any conversation between Jadhav and the consular officials “must necessarily take place in privacy and without the presence of any Pakistani official or recording by Pakistan”, Srivastava said.
It was evident Jadhav had been “intimidated repeatedly in the past, including in being made to express his alleged disinclination to seek a review”, he added.
India’s latest request for consular access included several conditions — Pakistan was asked to ensure the meeting was held in an “atmosphere free from fear of retribution”, without the presence of any Pakistani official, and without any video and audio recording.
“After extensive discussions, the Pakistan side conveyed that they were ready to organise consular access on July 16. We were assured this consular access would be unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional,” Srivastava said.
“Regrettably, however, neither the environment nor the arrangements of the meeting were in accordance with the assurances of Pakistan,” he added. Jadhav was “visibly under stress” and indicated this to the Indian officials.
Srivastava described Pakistan’s approach as “obstructive and insincere”. He added, “It has not only violated its assurance to the ICJ to fully implement the 2019 judgment, but also failed to act in accordance with its own ordinance.”
External affairs minister S Jaishanakr apprised Jadhav’s family of the developments even as the Indian side reiterated its commitment to ensure his safe return to India.
Consular access to Jadhav was first provided in September 2019, while his mother and wife had been allowed to meet him in December 2017.
Pakistan on Thursday reiterated its accusations that Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan province on March 3, 2016, and had “confessed” to his involvement in terror activities. India has already dismissed such charges and said he was kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence operatives from Iran’s Chabahar port, where he was running a business.
ICJ ruled in July 2019 that Pakistan had violated Jadhav’s rights under the Vienna Convention, and stayed his execution while calling on Islamabad to take all steps for an “effective review and reconsideration” of his sentence, including “enacting appropriate legislation”.