India today hit back at Pakistan, accusing it of violating mutual understandings on Kulbhushan Jadhav’s meeting with his family, and said the Indian national appeared coerced and under considerable stress during the tightly-controlled interaction.
Pakistan went so far as to have the mangalsutra, bangles and bindi of his mother and wife removed before they could meet him, the external affairs ministry said in a statement.
Also, most of Jadhav’s remarks were clearly tutored and designed “to perpetuate the false narrative” of his alleged spying in Pakistan, it said in a no-holds-barred statement against Islamabad’s conduct.
Summing up its anger, India said the manner in which Pakistan conducted Jadhav's meeting yesterday with his family violated the letter and spirit of understandings that the two countries had.
Countering Pakistan’s contention that the meeting was a humanitarian concession, India's statement said “this exercise lacked any credibility”.
From the feedback we have received of the meeting, it appears that Jadhav was under considerable stress and speaking in an atmosphere of coercion.MEA Statement
“We also regret that contrary to assurances, the overall atmosphere of the meeting was intimidating insofar as family members were concerned,” it said.
Family members, however, handled the situation with “great courage and fortitude”, the ministry said. The 47- year-old Jadhav’s “appearance also raises questions of his health and well being”.
The meeting, at the Pakistani foreign affairs ministry in Islamabad, took place after repeated requests by India for family access.
Jadhav, who was captured in March, 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 brought to Pakistan. To save Jadhav, India moved the International Court of Justice, which ordered Pakistan in May to stay his execution.
During yesteday’s meeting, whose pictures were released by Pakistan, Jadhav was seen sitting behind a glass screen while his mother and wife sat on the other side. They spoke through intercom and the entire 40-minute proceedings appeared to have been recorded on video.
Before the meeting, the two governments were in touch through diplomatic channels and had reached "clear understandings" on the meeting's modalities and format, the MEA statement said.
While India "scrupulously abided by all its commitments," Pakistan violated the letter and spirit of the understandings, it said.
Despite a clear agreement that the media would not be allowed close access, Pakistani press was allowed on multiple occasions to "approach family members closely, harass and hector them and hurl false and motivated accusations" about Jadhav, the statement said.
India also accused Pakistan of disregarding cultural and religious sensibilities of family members under the pretext of security. "This included removal of mangal sutra, bangles and bindi, as well as a change in attire that was not warranted by security," it said.
Jadhav's mother was prevented from talking in their mother tongue, Marathi. She was repeatedly interrupted when she tried to speak in Marathi and eventually prevented from proceeding further, it said.
Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh, who accompanied the two women, was initially separated from them. They were taken to the meeting without informing Singh, and the meeting was started without him, the statement said.
It added that Singh could join only after pressing the matter with officials, but was still kept behind an additional partition that did not allow him access to the meeting as agreed.
"For some inexplicable reason, despite her repeated requests," Jadhav's wife's shoes were not returned to her after the meeting," it said.