Pakistan refuted India’s claims that imprisoned former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife and mother were mistreated during their meeting. Islamabad’s Foreign Office said the meeting was conducted in an “open and transparent” manner.
Jadhav, who faces the death penalty in Pakistan on charges of espionage and terrorism, met his wife and mother Avanti and Chetankul Jadhav at the Pakistan Foreign Office on Monday. Jadhav was “under considerable stress” and “speaking in an atmosphere of coercion” when he met his mother and wife in Islamabad on Monday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs had said.
The meeting “was not allowed to be conducted in Marathi due to security reasons,” Dawn quoted the Foreign Office as saying. “There is nothing sinister in that. They spoke comfortably in English for about 40 minutes which is duly recorded [again India was pre-informed that the meeting would be recorded].”
Pakistani officials had confiscated the mangalsutra, bangles and bindis belonging to Jadhav’s wife and mother, and had also asked his wife Avanti Jadhav to remove her shoes, the External Affairs Ministry had said on Tuesday. In response, Pakistan claimed that there was “something” in her shoes which necessitated their removal.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called Pakistan’s claims “absurd”. “Pakistan says there was a camera or a recorder in the shoes, nothing can be more absurd than this as she travelled in two flights with those shoes on. It is an absurdity beyond measure,” she said.
Swaraj said Jadhav’s mother, who only wears saris, was forced to wear a salwar and kurta. An Indian official also said that Jadhav’s meeting with his family was arranged in the absence of India’s deputy high commissioner to Islamabad. “If he had seen how the women’s clothes were changed, he would have registered a protest immediately”.