NEW DELHI: India denounced Pakistan on Tuesday for its handling of the visit of the wife and mother of an Indian man on death row, saying they were harassed and prevented from talking to the prisoner freely.
Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, a former officer in the Indian navy, was arrested in March 2016 in the Pakistan province of Baluchistan, where there has been a long-running conflict between security forces and separatists, and convicted of planning espionage and sabotage.
His wife and mother were allowed to meet him behind a glass window on Monday eight months after he was sentenced to death but that gesture of goodwill appeared to have quickly descended into acrimony.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said Jadhav’s family was subjected to harassment when they arrived to meet him.
“The Pakistani press was allowed on multiple occasions to approach family members closely, harass and hector them and hurl false and motivated accusations about [Shri] Jadhav,” Kumar said in a statement.
India said it regretted the way Pakistan conducted the meeting, asserting that it violated the letter and spirit of understandings, and raised questions over the health and well being of the Indian national.
No diplomatic assistance
“From the feedback we have received of the meeting, it appears that Jadhav was under considerable stress and speaking in an atmosphere of coercion,” the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said, a day after There were “clear understandings” between the two sides and the Indian side scrupulously abided by all its commitments, it said.
“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 MEA statement said.
Ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours are in a deep chill and Jadhav’s case has added to long running tensions with each accusing the other of supporting cross-border violence.
India says Jadhav is innocent and won an injunction from the World Court to delay his execution, arguing he was denied diplomatic assistance during his trial by a military court.
Pakistan authorities say Jadhav confessed to being assigned by India’s intelligence service to plan, coordinate and organise espionage and sabotage activities in Balochistan “aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan”.
On Monday, Pakistan released a picture of Jadhav’s mother, Avanti, and wife, Chetankul, seated at a desk and speaking to him from behind the glass partition. Islamabad said it had honoured its commitment to give access to the family.
But India said the two women were asked to change their dress and remove personal jewellery and the red dot that Hindus wear on their foreheads on the pretext of security. Jadhav’s mother was not allowed to speak in her native Marathi language and was frequently interrupted.
Pakistani authorities also refused to return the shoes that Jadhav’s wife had worn, Kumar said, warning against potential mischief. He didn’t elaborate.
India and Pakistan often accuse each other of sending spies and several people are held in prisons in both countries, some of them on death row for years, to be used as bargaining chips in their troubled relationship.
Kumar said Jadhav appeared to be under considerable stress and under coercion at the meeting with his family.
“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.”