Kulbhushan Jadhav: Indian ‘agent’ in Pakistan

Published - April 15, 2017 10:45 pm IST

former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of 'espionage'.

former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of 'espionage'.

Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, now condemned to death by a Pakistani military court martial, had an uneventful childhood, as a police officer’s son growing up in the N.M. Joshi Marg police colony in Mumbai. He was more inclined towards sports than studies, say his friends, and eventually got into the National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla in Pune, and became a naval officer. Those who have known him from his Navy days say there wasn’t anything remarkable about him.

What is he accused of?

The ordinariness of Jadhav’s life ended in March last year when the Pakistan authorities arrested him, on charges of being an Indian spy carrying out terrorist attacks in Balochistan, targeting Pakistan-China interests. Jadhav burst onto the national and international limelight a few weeks later, when Pakistan announced the arrest of an alleged Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) spy in the restive Balochistan province, at a press conference in Islamabad.

Officials released a spliced and edited CD in which Jadhav is seen “confessing” to having been a spy for more than a decade. “I commenced intelligence operation in 2003 and established a small business in Chabahar in Iran as I was able to achieve undetected existence and visits to Karachi in 2003 and 2004,” he says in the video.

Jadhav said he was recruited by RAW in 2013 and he had since been directing various activities in Balochistan and Karachi at the behest of the Indian intelligence agency, with a view to engaging Baloch separatists to target infrastructure work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. “These activities have been of criminal nature, leading to killing of or maiming of Pakistani citizens,” he said.

How was he captured?

According to the Pakistani CD, Jadhav said he was trying to cross over into Pakistan from the Saravan border in Iran on March 3, 2016, when he was captured by Pakistani authorities. The Pakistani Army claims he used an Indian passport under an assumed name, Hussein Mubarak Patel, which stated that he belonged to Sangli.

What is India’s reaction?

While the Indian authorities accepted that Jadhav was a former Navy officer, the government has denied allegations that he is a spy. Jadhav, who retired from the Navy in 2001, established a small business in the Chabahar Free Trade Zone in Iran, where he reportedly operated a mechanised dhow named Kaminda , and the government believes he was kidnapped in Iran and brought forcibly into Pakistan to try and implicate India with allegations of espionage and terrorism.

It is particularly significant that Jadhav’s arrest was announced even as Pakistani investigating officials were being shown evidence of the attack on the Pathankot airbase in India.

How will it affect ties?

This is the latest flashpoint in the long and embittered saga of India-Pakistan ties. On April 10, the Pakistan Army announced that a Field General Court Martial had sentenced Jadhav to death, after three-and-a-half months of trial.

The sentence was confirmed by Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. Many in Pakistan were taken by surprise, and according to a widely believed theory, the intelligence agencies in Pakistan wanted to pre-empt the announcement by Indian agencies of the capture of a high-level ISI spy last seen in Lumbini, Nepal, earlier this month.

What next for Jadhav?

The government says it won’t spare any effort to secure the life of Jadhav, who is innocent, but admits that it has no knowledge of where he is being held, nor has it received any information from Iran on how he may have been spirited there.

On Friday, India again sought consular access to Jadhav in Pakistan, which has rejected 13 earlier requests. India has also rejected Pakistan’s demand that it accept Jadhav was a spy and cooperate in the investigation in return for consular access to him, and has warned that Pakistan’s refusal to accord access is in contravention of international law. “Under these circumstances, we have no choice but to regard the sentence, if carried out, as an act of pre-meditated murder,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj warned in Parliament.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.