Jadhav’s family harassed: India

Jadhav's wife was asked to remove her 'bindi', 'mangal sutra'; mother was not allowed to speak in their mother tongue during the meeting, alleges Ministry.

Updated - December 01, 2021 06:26 am IST

Published - December 26, 2017 02:56 pm IST - New Delhi

In this picture released by Pakistan Foreign Office, death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav speaks with his mother and wife through a glass screen at its building in Islamabad on December 25, 2017. Photo: Dr. Mohammad Faisal/Twitter

In this picture released by Pakistan Foreign Office, death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav speaks with his mother and wife through a glass screen at its building in Islamabad on December 25, 2017. Photo: Dr. Mohammad Faisal/Twitter

A day after the meeting of former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav with his mother and wife in Islamabad, India sharply criticised Pakistan for stage-managing what it called an exercise that “lacked credibility” and held in an “atmosphere of coercion.”

“We note with regret that the Pakistani side conducted the meeting in a manner which violated the letter and spirit of our understandings,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, after Mr. Jadhav’s family held a series of meetings with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other government officials.

Listing all the government’s reasons for its unhappiness with the conduct of the meeting, Mr. Kumar said the women were intimidated, separated from Indian officials, harassed by the Pakistani media and even made to change attire, remove their mangal sutra s (nuptial necklaces), bangles and shoes “under the guise of security precautions.”

Warning against any 'mischievous intent'

Mr. Kumar was particularly critical of the fact that Pakistani officials had refused to return the shoes worn by Mrs. Jadhav and warned against any “mischievous intent” in this regard.

Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said the accusations were “baseless allegations and twists.”

“If Indian concerns were serious, the guests or the Indian Deputy High Commissioner should have raised them during the visit, with the media, which was readily available, but at a safe distance, as requested by India,” MoFA spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said in a statement released on Tuesday night.

On Monday, the Pakistan government facilitated the meeting between Mr. Jadhav and his mother Avantika and wife Chetana at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, the first such meeting since the announcement of Mr. Jadhav's arrest in March 2016 on charges of terrorism. Later, he was convicted in a military court and sentenced to death, and his appeal for clemency is now under process.

India has officially requested a family meeting several times. Although the Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh was present at the interaction at the MoFA, both Pakistan and India made it clear this did not constitute "consular access" for which a case is being fought at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

Questions about his health

According to the MEA, Mr. Jadhav's mother was also "prevented" from speaking in her mother tongue Marathi with her son and interrupted repeatedly, while they were separated by a glass partition throughout the meeting. The MEA said the government was worried about Mr. Jadhav's medical condition.

"From the feedback we have received of the meeting, it appears that Shri Jadhav was under considerable stress, speaking in an atmosphere of coercion. Most of his remarks were clearly tutored and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities in Pakistan. His appearance also raises questions of his health and wellbeing, " the MEA spokesperson said.

The Jadhav family returned to India from Islamabad on Tuesday and met Ms. Swaraj at her residence, along with other officials, including Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Mr. J.P. Singh, who had accompanied them. They were reportedly debriefed by other MEA officials later.

The Pakistan government has claimed that facilitating the meeting of Mr. Jadhav and his family for "humanitarian reasons" was proof that it had "honoured its commitments". At a press conference, the MoFA spokesperson had also played a taped statement by Mr. Jadhav thanking the government for the meeting.

Mr. Jadhav's family has not made any public comment yet.

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