Parliament unites to save Jadhav

Sushma Swaraj warns Pakistan of consequences, seeks Congress help to draft resolution

Updated - November 29, 2021 01:18 pm IST

Published - April 11, 2017 10:40 pm IST - New Delhi

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj makes a statement on Kulbhushan  Jhadav, an Indian sentenced to death by Pakistan military court.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj makes a statement on Kulbhushan Jhadav, an Indian sentenced to death by Pakistan military court.

Accusing Pakistan of trying to cast aspersions on India to deflect attention from its role as a global sponsor of terror, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told Parliament on Tuesday that India would spare no effort to save Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Naval officer awarded the death sentence by a military court in Pakistan for espionage and sabotage.

After speaking in the Lok Sabha, Ms. Swaraj walked up to Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, requesting him to help draft the resolution to be adopted by both Houses of Parliament, in what was seen as a signal of unity on the matter.

After seeking permission from his party’s leader, Mr. Tharoor readily agreed. “This is a matter that affects us all,” he later told NDTV.

In her statement to Parliament that asserted the charges against Mr. Jadhav were concocted, Ms. Swaraj said he had been kidnapped from Iran. India was denied consular access to him despite several requests, which showed that the case against him was weak, she said.

“Earlier this year, the Pakistan government sought our assistance to obtain evidence and other materials for the investigation process. In doing so, they levelled ridiculous charges against senior Indian officials, who had no connection to this issue. Thereafter, they linked providing consular access to our acceptance of their position,” she said.

Consular access denied

“Nevertheless, in the hope that some forward movement could be made, our response was constructive. We pointed out that consular access to Shri Jadhav would be an essential pre-requisite in order to verify the facts and understand the circumstances of his presence in Pakistan.”

Asserting that there would be consequences on the bilateral relationship if Pakistan were to proceed on the matter, Ms. Swaraj said: “There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Shri Jadhav. If anything, he is the victim of a plan that seeks to cast aspersions on India to deflect international attention from Pakistan’s well-known record of sponsoring and supporting terrorism. Under these circumstances, we have no choice but to regard the sentence, if carried out, as an act of pre-meditated murder.”

To a suggestion made by the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Minister said the government would ensure that Mr. Jadhav was provided the best of lawyers in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and take up the matter at the level of the President of Pakistan too.

“Whatever is necessary, we will do,” she said, adding that Mr. Jadhav was “not only the son of his parents, but is the son of India.”

Earlier in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the government would do everything possible to get justice for Mr. Jadhav.

“The government strongly condemns it. All norms of law and justice were ignored,” he said.

Stating that Pakistan had told the media there that Mr. Jadhav carried a valid Indian passport, the Home Minister wondered why a spy would carry a valid passport. It exposed Pakistan’s lies, he said. He also criticised the Pakistan government for not allowing consular access to Mr. Jadhav despite 13 attempts. 

(With inputs from PTI)

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