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Kulbhushan Jadhav was ‘visibly under stress’, consular officers not given unimpeded access by Pakistan: MEA

Last week, Pakistan claimed that Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer who is on death row on charges of spying, had refused to file a review petition.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 16, 2020 8:22:53 pm
kulbhushan jadhav, Pakistan, India, Sushma Swaraj, kulbhushan jadhav family meet, kulbhushan jadhav pakistan, kulbhushan jadhav case, kulbhushan jadhav mea statement, Kulbhushan Jadhav is a former Indian Navy officer who is on death row on charges of spying and terrorist activities. (File)

The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said Indian consular officers were not given unimpeded access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on death row on charges of spying and terrorist activities in Pakistan, and the former Indian Navy officer was “visibly under stress”.  This is the second time that Pakistan had provided consular access to Jadhav.

“On the contrary, Pakistani officials with an intimidating demeanour were present in close proximity of Jadhav and Consular Officers despite the protests of the Indian side. Jadhav himself was visibly under stress and indicated that clearly to the consular officers,” the MEA said in a statement.

Expressing displeasure over the arrangements made by Pakistan, the MEA also said the consular officers were prevented from obtaining Jadhav’s written consent for arranging his legal representation.

“It was also evident from a camera that was visible that the conversation with Jadhav was being recorded. The arrangements did not permit a free conversation between them,” the MEA further said.

“The Consular Officers could not engage Kulbhushan Jadhav on his legal rights. In the light of these circumstances, the officers came to the conclusion that the consular access being offered by Pakistan was neither meaningful nor credible. After lodging a protest, they left the venue,” the statement said.

The MEA said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had apprised Jadhav’s family of these developments. “It is clear that Pakistan’s approach to this matter continues to be obstructive and insincere. It has not only violated its assurance to the ICJ to fully implement the 2019 judgement, but also failed to act in accordance with its own ordinance,” the MEA said.

The development comes two days before a deadline to file a review petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) is set to expire. An ordinance was promulgated by the Imran Khan government on May 20, which allowed the Indian government, Jadhav and his legal representative to file a review petition in IHC within 60 days.

However, addressing a press conference last week, Pakistan’s Additional Attorney General Ahmed Irfan and Pakistan Foreign Ministry’s Director General (South Asia & SAARC) Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry said Jadhav had refused to file an appeal against his conviction by a military court.

India responded sharply and said Pakistan’s claim that Jadhav has refused to initiate review petition is a “continuation of the farce” in play for the last four years.

Stressing that Jadhav has been sentenced to execution through a farcical trial and remains under custody of Pakistan’s military, the MEA spokesperson said, “He has clearly been coerced to refuse to file a review in his case…. In a brazen attempt to scuttle even the inadequate remedy under the Ordinance, Pakistan has obviously coerced Jadhav to forego his rights to seek an implementation of the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”

In September last year, India’s Acting High Commissioner in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia met Jadhav in the presence of Pakistani officials following a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

After the meeting, New Delhi had said Jadhav appeared to be under “extreme pressure” to support Islamabad’s “false narrative” in his case.

In July last year, the ICJ, in its verdict, had directed Pakistan to allow consular access and effectively review the death sentence. The court had observed that Pakistan had breached international law by not granting him consular access.

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