Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was arrested by Pakistani officials on March 3, 2016, on suspicion of espionage and sabotage activities against the country. Claiming that Jadhav was an Indian spy, the Pakistani military court sentenced him to death. The Indian side, however, maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy and that he has no links with the government. The execution was stayed after India’s appeal at International Court of Justice.
After multiple attempts from India to connect with Jadhav, Pakistan in December allowed his family to meet him, “in the light of Islamic traditions and based on purely humanitarian grounds.” India requested the presence of an Indian envoy during the meeting and that the family will not be harassed while in Pakistan. Agreeing to both the demands, Pakistan granted the visa to Jadhav’s mother and wife, stating that allowing an Indian diplomat constituted consular access to India. The Indian side, has, however, downplayed the claim.
Despite multiple requests from India in the past, Pakistan has been denying consular access to Jadhav claiming that New Delhi wants to extract information gathered by its “spy”. In its counter-memorial submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Pakistan said the provision of such an access under the Vienna Convention is only for legitimate visitors and not for spies, a media report said.
The story so far
Almost a month after his arrest, Pakistan released a video of Jadhav ‘confessing’ to being a spy for RAW. In the video, Jadhavsaid he had been directing various activities in Karachi and Balochistan “at the behest of RAW”, the Indian intelligence agency and that he was still with the Indian Navy. He also “confessed” that he was recruited by RAW in 2013, but established “a base” in Iran’s Chabahar 10 years before that, making clandestine journeys to Karachi and Balochistan. According to officials in Pakistan, Jadhav had converted to Islam and worked at Gadani under the cover of a scrap dealer. The Ministry of External Affairs, however, rejected the video calling it doctored and fake.
Jadhav was identified in India as the son of Sudhir Jadhav, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police in Mumbai. His uncle, Subhash Jadhav, was in charge of the Bandra police station in 2002 when the hit-and-run case was registered there against Bollywood actor Salman Khan. According to sources from his family, Jadhav had sought premature retirement from the Navy in order to start his own business.
Details about his involvement with the RAW are ambiguous. Jadhav obtained a passport (E6934766) from Pune in November 2003. This passport identified him with the pseudonym, Hussein Mubarak Patel. According to this passport, Jadhav was born in 1968 and joined the Navy in 1987. His batchmates remember him as an elusive person, who never attended reunions and remained absent for long periods. The address on his passport too was incomplete.
Not much is known of his stay in Iran. According to sources in Chabahar, Jadhav lived with his family; his family, however, declined to comment on this. The Indian theory regards his arrest as one done by deceit. According to officials, Jadhav may have been lured into Pakistan since he was caught with his original passport.