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India launches appeal against death sentence for Kulbhushan Jadhav

India has launched an appeal against the death sentence given to former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court even as Islamabad again turned down a demand for consular access.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2017 20:20 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad and Jayanth Jacob
Imtiaz Ahmad and Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times, Islamabad/New Delhi
Kulbhushan Jadhav,India-Pakistan relations,Kulbhushan Jadhav death sentence
File photo of students in Mumbai protesting against the death sentence given to Kulbhushan Jadhav by a Pakistani military court. (HT Photo)

Pakistan on Wednesday turned down a fresh demand for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav from India, which launched an appeal against the death sentence given to him by a Pakistani military court for alleged involvement in spying.

The demand for consular access - the 16th one – was conveyed by Indian envoy Gautam Bambawale when he met Pakistan’s foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua at the Foreign Office in Islamabad.

The envoy also handed over two appeals from Jadhav’s mother – one to the Pakistan Army’s court of appeal against the death sentence given to her son on charges of espionage and sabotage, and another asking the Pakistan government to free him.

However, Janjua contended Jadhav was not covered under a bilateral agreement on consular access as he was a “spy”. Consular access is meant for “important prisoners but not spies”, she reportedly said.

Janjua alleged Jadhav “was a serving Indian naval officer, who was involved in nefarious terrorist activities in Pakistan”, state-run Radio Pakistan reported. She added that India was contacted for information about Jadhav but did not cooperate.

The formal appeal against the death sentence, filed under Section 133(B) of the Pakistan Army Act, was signed by Jadhav’s mother. The external affairs ministry said in a statement Jadhav “continues to be in detention in Pakistan on concocted charges”.

Bambawale told the Pakistani foreign secretary that Jadhav’s mother had expressed a desire to meet him. India requested Pakistan to facilitate visas for the parents of the 46-year-old former naval officer.

“They wish to travel to Pakistan to meet him and also to personally file the petition and the appeal. They have applied for necessary visas with the Pakistan high commission in New Delhi,” the external affairs ministry said.

After the meeting, Bambawale told reporters the appeal was filed in line with legal requirements within the stipulated time of 40 days. He expressed the hope that Jadhav would be released at the earliest.

This was the second time the Indian envoy met Janjua since April 14 to discuss the case of Jadhav, who was arrested more than a year ago. Pakistan has levelled seven specific charges against Jadhav, including fomenting unrest in Balochistan and Karachi and alleged involvement in a string of terror attacks.

Pakistan has so far not provided any evidence to back up these charges. Jadhav was awarded capital punishment by a military court following a secret trial and the sentence was confirmed by the Pakistan Army chief on April 10.

India has said if Pakistan goes ahead with the execution of Jadhav, it would be tantamount to premeditated murder. It has also said that Jadhav was kidnapped by Pakistani authorities from Iran.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office has said judicial process was followed during Jadhav’s trial and he was provided a lawyer in accordance with relevant laws and the Constitution. The Pakistan Army also released what was described as a “confessional video” of Jadhav after his arrest.

First Published: Apr 26, 2017 18:00 IST