Stepping up its efforts to secure the release of Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan on charges of spying, India Friday demanded certified copies of the chargesheet in the case and sought consular access to the former navy officer. Pakistan claimed that the death sentence was based on “credible” and “specific” evidence.
Following a meeting with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, India’s High Commissioner in Islamabad Gautam Bambawale said, “I have asked for a certified copy of the chargesheet as well as the judgment in the death sentence of Kulbhushan Jadhav. They have denied our request for consular access 13 times. I have again requested the Pakistan Foreign Secretary to give access to Jadhav so that we can appeal.”
The latest development came on a day when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Kolkata that the government would do whatever required to get justice for Jadhav. In Mumbai, Minister of State for External Affairs General V K Singh described Pakistan’s charges against Jadhav as “fictitious”.
However, Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs, claimed that due process of law was followed in Jadhav’s trial and accused India of aggravating the situation.
In a media briefing, Aziz claimed that Jadhav was responsible for several acts of terrorism, including killings of members of Pakistan’s Shia minority, and bombings in Quetta, Gwadar and Turbat.
However, Pakistan’s military public-relations service had said earlier this week that the court-martial that sentenced Jadhav tried him under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923. The Act, which deals only with espionage rather than violent crimes, allows for the death penalty to be imposed for spies who gather “information which is calculated to be or might be or is intended to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy”.
In a statement, Aziz said that the first FIR against Jadhav was lodged on April 8, 2016, by the local police’s counter terrorism department in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. He said that a detailed trial was held and all relevant laws, including the recording of Jadhav’s statement before a magistrate, were followed. Jadhav was also provided legal assistance, he said.
”Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is responsible for espionage, sabotage and terrorism in Pakistan, has been tried according to the law of the land, in a fully transparent manner while preserving his rights, as per the Constitution of Pakistan,” said Aziz.
“His sentence is based on credible, specific evidence proving his involvement in espionage and terrorist activities in Pakistan,” said Aziz.
“I would like to ask India why Kulbhushan Jadhav was using a fake identity impersonating as a Muslim? Why would an innocent man possess two passports, one with a
Hindu name and another with a Muslim name?” said Aziz.
Pakistan has claimed that its security forces arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016, after he reportedly entered the area from Iran. It also claimed that he was “a serving officer in the Indian Navy.” India has said that Jadhav had served with the navy but denied that he has any connection with the government.
Speaking to reporters in Kolkata, Rajnath Singh said, “The government will do whatever is required to get justice for Kulbhusan Jadav… I do not believe that he was given a proper trial,” he said.
In Mumbai, V K Singh said, “India has said clearly that Pakistan’s claim that Kulbhushan Jadhav is a spy is fictitious. No spy goes to another country with his own passport.”