Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian man who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2016, has been sentenced to death. He was said to have entered Pakistan through Iran and was believed to have been helping Baloch separatists. Pakistan had accused him of being an agent of India’s Research and Analysis Wing.
They had charged him with terrorism, sabotage and violating the country’s Foreigner Act.
Jadhav’s arrest had been a bone of contention between the two countries that had already been experiencing strained relations after the terror attack in Pathankot Army base. Although initial reports claimed Pakistan admitted to having very little evidence against Jadhav, they later said there was “irrefutable proof” against him.
After his arrest, the Pakistani Army had released what they claimed was a “confessional video”. India had admitted that he was a retired Indian Navy officer, but had denied all claims that he was involved with the government in any way.
The Indian government reacted sharply to the development. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, and issued a demarche saying that the proceedings leading up to the death sentence for Jadhav were “farcical”. “Shri Jadhav was kidnapped last year from Iran and his subsequent presence in Pakistan has never been explained credibly. The Government of India, through its High Commission in Islamabad, has repeatedly sought consular access to him, as provided for by international law. Requests to that effect were formally made 13 times between 25 March 2016 and 31 March 2017. This was not permitted by the Pakistani authorities,” the Centre said.
“If basic norms of law and justice are not observed, the government and the people of India will regard it as premeditated murder,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in the demarche. “It is significant that our High Commission was not even informed that Kulbhushan Jadhav was being brought to trial,” it added.
While Amnesty International issued a statement opposing the death sentence given to Jadhav, Minister of State for External Affairs General (retd) VK Singh dodged the question. “Let complete probe happen. Then we can comment and act accordingly,” said the former Army Chief. Former RAW Chief AS Dulat, however, did not mince words while condemning the action by Pakistan. “Anything is possible in Pakistan, after all they’ve hanged one of their prime ministers in the past,” he told ANI.