A day after New Delhi criticised Islamabad for its handling of the meeting between Kulbhushan Jadhav, the former Indian Navy officer on Death Row in Pakistan, and his mother Avanti and wife Chetna, a report in Pakistan Today on Wednesday said the Pakistani authorities had sent Chetna’s shoes for forensic examination to determine the nature of a suspected “foreign object”. The report quoted Pakistan foreign ministry’s official spokesperson Mohammad Faisal as saying that the authorities were ascertaining whether the “metallic object” in her shoes was a camera or a recording chip.
While India did not issue an official statement on this development, New Delhi had cautioned against any “mischievous intent” regarding Chetna’s shoes in its detailed statement on Tuesday. “For some inexplicable reason, despite her repeated requests, the shoes of the wife of Shri Jadhav were not returned to her after the meeting. We would caution against any mischievous intent in this regard,” the Ministry of External Affairs had said.
Raising the issue in Lok Sabha during Zero Hour on Wednesday, MPs cut across party lines to condemn Pakistan for “harassing” and “insulting” Jadhav’s family members by making them remove their mangalsutra, bangles, bindi and shoes. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who was present in the House, said she would make a statement on Thursday.
According to a report in Pakistan’s leading daily, Dawn, Pakistan’s foreign ministry confirmed that a “metallic substance” had been detected in the shoes, which were retained by security officials prior to the meeting between Jadhav and his family members. The shoes were kept for inspection, while all other belongings, including jewellery, were returned, said Faisal, adding that Jadhav’s wife was given another pair of shoes. “There was something in the shoe. It is being investigated. We gave her a pair of replacement shoes. All her jewellery etc were returned after the meeting,” Faisal said, according to PTI. The MEA, in its statement on Tuesday, said Jadhav’s wife and mother were made to remove their mangalsutra, bangles and bindi before they could meet him.
In its reaction on Tuesday night, Pakistan’s foreign ministry did not mention any “metallic substance”. In its statement, Islamabad rejected as “baseless” New Delhi’s contention that Jadhav’s wife and mother were harassed, and claimed that his wife’s shoes were confiscated on security grounds as there was “something” in it. “The Indian baseless allegations and twists, that come 24 hours later, about the visit of the wife and mother of Commander Jadhav, a convicted terrorist and spy, who has confessed to his crimes, are categorically rejected,” said the statement.
Meanwhile, terming Pakistan’s treatment of Jadhav’s wife and mother as “barbaric” and “inhuman”, Union Minister of State (Home) Hansraj Ahir said on Wednesday, “I condemn the treatment meted out to Jadhav’s mother and wife by Pakistan. This shows their real intention. The entire world knows how Pakistan behaves with a citizen of another country after inviting them.”
In pictures released by Pakistan of the December 25 meeting, Jadhav was seen sitting behind a glass screen while his mother and wife sat on the other side. They spoke through a telephone and the entire 40-minute proceedings appeared to have been recorded on video.
Jadhav, who was captured in March last year, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court for alleged spying, an accusation that India has dismissed as concocted. New Delhi says Jadhav was kidnapped in Iran where he had legitimate business interests, and taken to Pakistan. To save Jadhav, India moved the International Court of Justice, which, in May, ordered Pakistan to stay his execution.
(With PTI inputs from Islamabad)