India on Tuesday slammed Pakistan for the manner in which the meeting between death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav and his wife and mother were conducted, saying Islamabad “violated the letter and spirit of our understandings” over the meeting.
In a statement, India said the manner in which the meeting was conducted and its aftermath “was clearly an attempt to bolster a false and unsubstantiated narrative of Jadhav’s alleged activities” and “the exercise lacked any credibility.”
It also said that ahead of the meeting, the two women were made to remove their mangal sutra, bangles and bindi and were not allowed to converse in their mother tongue Marathi.
It said that Jadhav’s wife, Chetankul’s shoes were taken away and not returned, while some media persons outside the Foreign Office in Islamabad, where the meeting was held, hurled invectives at the women.
India also said that from the feedback received of the meeting, “it appears that Jadhav was under considerable stress and speaking in an atmosphere of coercion” and that “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 well being.”
The statement was released after Jadhav’s mother and wife met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at her residence earlier in the day. They were accompanied by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and the ministry spokesperson.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a statement. “Prior to the meeting, the two governments were in touch through diplomatic channels to work out its modalities and format.
“There were clear understandings between the two sides and the Indian side scrupulously abided by all its commitments.
“However, we note with regret that the Pakistani side conducted the meeting in a manner which violated the letter and spirit of our understandings.
The violations included the Pakistani press being “allowed on multiple occasions to approach family members closely, harass and hector them and hurl false and motivated accusations about Shri Jadhav.
“This was despite a clear agreement that the media would not be allowed close access.”
The MEA statement said that under the pretext of security precautions, the cultural and religious sensibilities of family members were disregarded.
“This included removal of mangal sutra, bangles and bindi, as well as a change in attire that was not warranted by security.
“The mother of Jadhav was prevented from talking in their mother tongue, although this was clearly the natural medium of communication. She was repeatedly interrupted while doing so and eventually prevented from proceeding further in this regard.”
It said that Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh, who accompanied Jadhav’s mother Avanti and wife Chetankul, was initially separated from the two women who were taken to the meeting without informing him.
“The meeting was started without his presence and he could join only after pressing the matter with concerned officials. Even then, he was kept behind an additional partition that did not allow him access to the meeting as agreed.
“For some inexplicable reason, despite her repeated requests, the shoes of Jadhav’s wife were not returned to her after the meeting.
“We would caution against any mischievous intent in this regard,” he stated.
“From the feedback we have received of the meeting, it appears that Shri Jadhav was under considerable stress and 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 well being.”
Kumar said that India regrets that contrary to assurances, “the overall atmosphere of the meeting was intimidating insofar as family members were concerned”.
“Family members, however, handled the situation with great courage and fortitude.
“The manner in which the meeting was conducted and its aftermath was clearly an attempt to bolster a false and unsubstantiated narrative of Jadhav’s alleged activities. You would all agree that this exercise lacked any credibility,” the statement said.
In a meeting described as a “humanitarian gesture” by the Pakistan government on the birth anniversary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Jadhav was allowed a face-to-face meeting with his mother and wife after a gap of 22 months, at the Pakistan Foreign Office in Islamabad on Monday.
However, they were separated by a glass partition in the heavily-guarded building and spoke through an intercom, watched at a distance by the Indian Deputy High Commissioner J.P. Singh who escorted them to the meeting.
Jadhav, 47, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April, following which India moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in May.
India has said that Jadhav is innocent and has maintained that he was kidnapped from Iran where he had gone for handling his businesses after superannuation from the Indian Navy.
Despite the death verdict, Pakistan last week reiterated that he was not under threat of an immediate execution as his mercy petitions were still pending.