Sushma says ‘Jadhav wondered if something had happened to father’, Pakistan defends ‘security check’
Speaking in both Houses of Parliament, Sushma Swaraj accused Pakistan of misusing the reunion between Kulbhushan Jadhav and his mother Avanti and wife Chetankul for propaganda, and said India had formally conveyed its protest in a note verbale on Wednesday.india Updated: Dec 28, 2017 23:06 IST
Kulbhushan Jadhav feared something had happened to his father when he saw his mother without her ‘mangal sutra’, bangles and bindi in Islamabad, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday, launching a stinging attack on Pakistan for its treatment of the death row prisoner’s kin.
Speaking in both houses of Parliament, Swaraj accused Pakistan of misusing the reunion between Jadhav and his mother Avanti and wife Chetankul for propaganda, and said India had formally conveyed its protest in a note verbale on Wednesday.
In Islamabad, foreign minister Khawaja Asif responded to Swaraj’s criticism by saying Pakistan rejected all the allegations made by India. He said a “metal chip” had been found in Chetankul’s shoes and was being analysed.
An emotional Swaraj criticised Pakistan for gross violation of human rights in her statements in both Houses and said, “When I talked to her (Avanti) she told me that the first question her son asked was ‘How is Baba (father)?’. Because he may have feared that something bad had happened.”
Avanti told Pakistani officials she had never removed her ‘mangal sutra’ but they were adamant it should be taken off, Swaraj said, describing it as the “height of bad behaviour”.
“The Pakistan authorities have been cautioned against any mischievous intent in this regard through a note verbale yesterday,” she said, referring to Pakistani authorities taking away Chetankul’s shoes for forensic tests.
Pakistan’s allegations about the shoes containing a chip or a recorder amounted to “absurdity beyond measure”, she said.
“The same shoes passed checks by two airlines – Air India and Emirates. The two women cleared security at airports in India, Dubai and Pakistan…After they enter Pakistan, they have chips?” she said in the Rajya Sabha.
“At times they say there was a recorder in it, at times they say there was a camera, there was a chip. There cannot be a bigger white lie than this. Thank God they didn’t say there was a bomb inside it.”
Foreign minister Khawaja Asif said in a statement that the meeting between Jadhav and his wife and mother was “successfully achieved despite all impediments”. He accused the Indian media of “advancing farfetched conspiracy theories” about the change of clothes for the women and retention of Chetankul’s shoes.
Asif said a comprehensive security check was essential as Jadhav was a “convicted Indian terrorist and spy” and this had been agreed to by the two sides. “The wife’s shoes were retained as they did not clear the security check. A metal chip has been found in one of the shoes, which is being analysed,” he said.
He also contended Pakistan’s “humanitarian gesture did not obviate the fact that this was not an ordinary meeting between a mother and wife with their son and husband”.
“Trying to distort an agreed security check and attempting to portray it as deliberate religious/cultural disrespect denotes bad faith and is regrettable,” he said. Pakistan will not “indulge in fallacious accusations” and both sides should focus on the “bigger positive outcome that the meeting happened” despite impediments, he added.
Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for alleged involvement in spying after he was arrested in March last year. India has said the former navy officer was kidnapped from the Iranian port of Chabahar.
His execution was stayed after India approached the International Court of Justice.
In her strongly worded statement read out in Parliament, Swaraj said, “The meeting of Mr Kulbhushan Jadav with his mother and wife was portrayed by Pakistan as a humanitarian gesture. However, the truth is that both humanity and compassion were missing during the meeting…an intimidating atmosphere was created for them during this meeting.”
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said the treatment meted out to Jadhav’s wife and mother amounted to “misbehaviour with the wives and mothers of 130 crore Indians.”
“We will not tolerate insults to the wives and mothers and to the country’s dignity,” Azad said, adding the government should ensure that Pakistan ensures Jadhav’s safety in custody.
Members cut across party lines in both Houses and voiced their support for the government.