External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made identical statements in both houses of Parliament on Thursday, where she said there was “serious and gross violation of human rights of the family members of (Kulbhushan) Jadhav” by Pakistan.
Sushma’s statement in Parliament comes just days after Indian national Kulbhshan Jadhav’s family met him at Pakistan Foreign Office amidst a controlled environment. Jadhav has been held as a prisoner in Pakistan for alleged spying, a charge that India has repeatedly denied.
Swaraj pointed out that Jadhav’s mother Avanti and wife Chetna were forced to remove their mangalsutra, bindi and bangles and footwear, and even made to change their attire on the pretext of security.
“Both married women were presented as widows in front of a son and husband. There can be no greater insult than this,” said Swaraj as other members chorused “shame, shame.”
“There are not enough words to condemn the same,” she said.
India accused Islamabad of turning an emotional moment into “an instrument to further its propaganda.”
Jadhav’s mother and wife met him on Monday inside the Pakistan Foreign Office building in Islamabad under unusual circumstances – he was separated from the two women by a glass screen, and they conversed through an intercom. Avanti was not allowed to speak in their native Marathi language.
Chetna’s footwear was also confiscated as Pakistani authorities suspected a chip, camera or a recorder being installed in the shoes. This is “absurdity beyond measure,” Swaraj said, pointing out that the two women had cleared security at airports in India, Dubai and Pakistan when nothing suspicious was detected.
“The Pakistan authorities have been cautioned against any mischievous intent in this regard through a Note Verbale yesterday…This meeting could have been a step towards moving forward. But,it is a matter of great disappointment, that the meeting took place flouting all the understandings both countries had agreed to,” Swaraj said.
Swaraj also stated that Jadhav’s words appeared tutored.
“The meeting of 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 that was arranged on humanitarian and compassionate grounds,” she said.
Swaraj said Jadhav’s mother and wife were taken for the meeting through a separate door without informing the accompanying Deputy High Commissioner of India.
Following the statement, members across all party in both Houses voiced full supported for the government.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said the misbehaviour with Jadhav’s wife and mother was “misbehaviour with 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 saftey in custody.
Swaraj said while the imminent threat to Jadhav’s life has been averted, “we are now engaged in seeking a permanent relief, based on stronger arguments, through the legal avenue offered by the International Court of Justice,” she said.
She said the mother and wife, on their return from Islambad, had conveyed to her that Jadhav appeared “under considerable stress and was speaking in an atmosphere of coercion.”
“As the meeting progressed, it was clear to them that his (Jadhav’s) remarks were tutored by his captors and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities. His appearance also raised questions of his health and well-being,” she said.
Pakistan alleges that Jadhav is an Indian spy, who was arrested by Pakistani security forces from Balochistan province on March 3 2016, after he reportedly entered from Iran. But India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Indian Navy.
In April 2017, Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism, following which India moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in May. The ICJ halted Jadhav’s execution on India’s appeal pending the final verdict.
“I am fully confident that this entire House and through the House, the people of India, strongly condemn, in one voice, the obnoxious behaviour of Pakistan and affirm their solidarity with the Jadhav family,” Swaraj stated.
Both Houses condemned the treatment meted out to Jadhav’s family in Islamabad.
In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said the entire House calls upon the government to take steps for the safe, secure release of Jadhav.
He said the House also urges the international community to condemn Pakistan’s attitude.
(With inputs from agencies)