Sushma Swaraj in House: Pakistan presented Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife and mother as widows

The two women had to remove their mangalsutra, bindi, bangles, hair-clips and footwear, and also change their clothes, before meeting Jadhav, the former Indian Navy officer on Death Row in Pakistan, on Monday

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Updated: December 29, 2017 9:30 am
Kulbhushan Jadhav, Pakistan, Sushma Swaraj, Kulbhushan Jadhav family in Pakistan, Jadhav family insulted, Indian Express, India news External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at Parliament House on Thursday. (Express Photo/Anil Sharma)

Saying that Pakistan presented Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife Chetna and mother Avanti as “widows” in front of him, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said when Jadhav saw his mother without a mangalsutra, bindi and bangles, he wondered if something “unfortunate” had happened and asked about the well-being of his father.

The two women had to remove their mangalsutra, bindi, bangles, hair-clips and footwear, and also change their clothes, before meeting Jadhav, the former Indian Navy officer on Death Row in Pakistan, on Monday. Saying that this was a “serious and gross violation” of their human rights, Swaraj, in similar statements in both Houses of Parliament, asked MPs to “strongly condemn, in one voice” the “obnoxious” behaviour of Pakistan, and “affirm their solidarity with the Jadhav family”.

“Under the pretext of security precautions, even the attire of the family members was changed. Jadhav’s mother, who only wears saris, was given salwar-kurta to wear,” said Swaraj. She said Jadhav’s mother had told the Pakistani officials that the mangalsutra is a symbol of her marriage (suhag) and she never removes it, but they turned down her plea and said they were only following orders.

“Both married women were presented as widows in front of a son and husband. There can be no greater insult than this,” said Swaraj, amid chants of “shame, shame” from fellow parliamentarians. Swaraj said that while Pakistan had portrayed the meeting as a humanitarian gesture, “the truth is that both humanity and compassion were missing during the meeting that was arranged on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.” Saying that Pakistan had “misused” the “emotional moment” as “an instrument to further its propaganda”, Swaraj added that “there are not enough words to condemn the same.”

Swaraj said Pakistan’s authorities were now talking of a chip, camera or recorder being installed in Chetna’s shoes. This is “absurdity beyond measure,” she said, pointing out that the two women had cleared security at airports in India, Dubai and Pakistan, where nothing suspicious was detected. “At times they say there was a recorder on it (shoe), at times they say there was a camera, there was a chip… Thank God they did not say there was a bomb inside it,” she said. “The Pakistani authorities have been cautioned against any mischievous intent in this regard through a Note Verbale yesterday,” she added.

Reiterating the MEA’s official statement issued on Tuesday, she said that while the meeting could have been a step forward, it is a matter of great concern that there was departure from the agreed understanding between the two countries in the conduct of this meeting. Following Swaraj’s statement, MPs expressed support for Jadhav’s family. In Lok Sabha, Shiv Sena members shouted slogans of “Pakistan murdabad”, and were joined by the rest of the Treasury benches.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress said Pakistan’s “misbehaviour” with Jadhav’s wife and mother was “misbehaviour with wives and mothers of 130 crore Indians”. “We will not tolerate insults to the wives and mothers and to the country’s dignity,” he said, adding that the government should ask Pakistan to ensure Jadhav’s safety in custody.

Opinion | For both Pakistan and India, Kulbhushan Jadhav has become a pawn in a high-stakes game

Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav said this was “unimaginable in a civilised society”, while JD(U)’s Harivansh called Jadhav the country’s pride. CPI(M)’s Tapan Kumar Sen said the manner in which Pakistan dealt with the issue was “indeed condemnable”. “They crossed the limit of civilised treatment even within the diplomatic barrier,” he said.

Before Swaraj’s statement in Rajya Sabha, Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said the sensitive matter was before the ICJ and urged MPs to exercise restrain in their statements, keeping Jadhav’s welfare in mind. TMC’s Derek O’Brien, BJD’s Dilip Tirkey, TDP’s T Devendra Goud, BSP’s Veer Singh, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, CPI’s D Raja, Akali Dal’s Sukhdev Singh Dindsa, IML’s Abdul Wahab, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, BJP’s Bhupendra Yadav and RPI’s Ram Das Athavale expressed their full support to the government on the issue. Naidu said the entire House appreciated the efforts of the government and asked it to take steps to ensure Jadhav’s safe and secure release. He also wanted the government to convey to the international community that Pakistan behaved in an inhuman manner.

After Swaraj’s statement in Lok Sabha, Congress leader Adhiranjan Chowdhary said, “What strong stance have you taken against Pakistan? Kada roop apnayiye.” Jadhav, 47, arrested by Pakistani authorities in March 2016, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April this year on charges of espionage and terrorist activities. New Delhi has denied the charge and maintained that he was kidnapped from Iran where he was pursuing an independent business. Jadhav’s execution has been stayed by the International Court of Justice.

Swaraj said while the imminent threat to Jadhav’s life has been averted, “we are now engaged in seeking a permanent relief, based on stronger arguments, through the legal avenue offered by the ICJ”. Reiterating the MEA’s statement, she listed the violations of the understanding between the two countries on the meeting. Swaraj said Jadhav’s mother and wife were taken for the meeting through a separate door, without informing the accompanying Deputy High Commissioner of India. She said that on their return from Islambad, they conveyed to her that Jadhav appeared “under considerable stress and was speaking in an atmosphere of coercion.”

“As the meeting progressed, it was clear to them that his (Jadhav’s) remarks were tutored by his captors and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities. His appearance also raised questions of his health and well-being,” she said. “Two Pakistani officials continuously interrupted her. But when she insisted on speaking in Marathi, the intercom was snapped,” said Swaraj.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif categorically rejected India’s allegations and said the meeting was permitted on humanitarian grounds, in line with Islamic teachings and traditions of compassion and grace. The meeting was initially scheduled for 30 minutes, but was extended to 40 minutes on their request. The success of the meeting was evident by the fact that Jadhav’s mother thanked Pakistan after the visit, he said.

The Foreign Minister underscored that Pakistan’s humanitarian gesture did not obviate the fact that this was not an ordinary meeting between a mother and son, or wife and husband. The reality remains that Jadhav is an Indian Navy officer and a convicted terrorist and spy responsible for multiple deaths and destruction in Pakistan, he said.

“A comprehensive security check was therefore essential. This was agreed between both countries, in advance, through diplomatic channels. The visitors were treated with respect and dignity. The change of clothes and removal of jewellery/ ornaments etc was purely for security reasons. The visitors changed into their own clothes after the meeting. All their belongings were returned to them before they left. The wife’s shoes were retained as they did not clear the security check. A metal chip has been found in one of the shoes, which is being analysed,” he said.

He elaborated that “many routine airport security checks for ordinary people entail removal of crosses and veils. Trying to distort an agreed security check and attempting to portray it as a deliberate religious/ cultural disrespect denotes bad faith and is regrettable.” The Foreign Minister said Pakistan has been open and transparent about the meeting, offered in good faith. “We do not wish to indulge in fallacious accusations and blame game and should focus on the bigger positive outcome that the meeting happened, despite immense challenges and impediments, instead of distortion of facts and baseless propaganda, which vitiates the atmosphere and is counter-productive,” he said.

(With inputs from Shalini Nair)

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  1. Qamar Saleem
    Dec 30, 2017 at 2:50 pm
    Come on guys Indian MEA talking everything except the Passport thing, i mean Pakistan's main proof is that passport recovered from yadav, bearing a muslim name, Indian MEA should deny/dispute that passport, Pak foreign office sent a Letter of interest to MEA India with the copy of that passport attached, this passport has been used 17 times by yadav for travel, these r very direct questions/accusations, yesterday Pak FO spokesperson again asked about that passport, why Indian authorities are shying away from that passport, they talk everything but not challenge the veracity of that passport, neither in ICJ nor anywhere else like UNO, and why still India hasn't lodged any formal complaint with Iran about the so called kidnapping of one of its citizens from Iranian soil? it would had made Indian case even more strong, why India lodged case in ICJ just for consular access? why Indian govt is not pleading his innocence in ICJ? i mean Indians should ask these basic questions from their govt
    1. AKELLA567
      Dec 29, 2017 at 10:18 am
      Pakistan responded in their style to the magnanimity shown by Sushma Swaraj to Pakistani patients. This is a lesson our MEA should learn from porkistan.
      1. Michelle:vedic Hindu:human:king
        Dec 29, 2017 at 10:17 am
        The filthy illegitimate and illiterate Mohammed Jinnah,----a convert MUZZIE,--son of kashtrya Gujarati Hindu parents,---JINNABHAI POONJA and METHIBEN POONJA,----PORKIS should not forget that HINDU GENES still runs in their blood and that the man who created PORKISTAN,----his biological BAAP was a HINDU,---so PORKIS should note that we HINDUS RISHTEY MEIN TUMARE BAAP LAGTEY HEIN,---Jai Hnd.
        1. Gopalan Ramesh
          Dec 29, 2017 at 8:54 am
          It shows what Pakistan is capable if they are given room to operate. Thank God they are isolated in the world. Not even the Arabs think in this way with the Israelis.
          1. Sankaran Krishnan
            Dec 29, 2017 at 7:55 am
            It is our fault expecting the Terror Nation Pakistan the "Humanity" factor or an civilized behaviour and of course their culture is different and never bother about such Religious faiths and if they are very serious about that they should have informed the Diplomats who had negotiated that all these security checks will be in place and they won't allow to wear saris, ornaments including mangalsutra and as well obtained permission from the family members of Jadhav !!! Alternatively the Pakistan authorities should have consulted their Indian supporters and the so called Pakistan pro friend "Neech" statement Mani Shankar Aiyar and all others who are all assembled at their house for the meet followed by dinner and obtained their views whether Mangalsutra and saris should be removed before meeting Jadhav or the meet itself was to decide about the meet because so far none revealed what transpired at the meet shows their true colours and now they are getting exposed by their own acts!!!
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