ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI: The meeting of an Indian “spy” with his family in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, has sparked a diplomatic spat between the two countries, with India accusing Pakistan of putting words in convict’s mouth and harassing his family – charges the country denies.
Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian citizen, was convicted and sentenced to death by Pakistan in April for spying and orchestrating gun and bomb attacks targeting civilians and security forces. He sought clemency earlier this year.
He met with his wife and mother under the supervision of Pakistani officials on Monday.
On Tuesday, India’s foreign ministry accused Pakistan of subjecting Jadhav’s wife Chetankul and mother Avanti Sudhir to excessive security measures and allowing journalists to harangue them.
Pakistan says it allowed the meeting on humanitarian grounds, and that India’s allegations are false.
The two women met with Jadhav in a specially constructed room from behind a glass screen, images released by the Pakistani foreign ministry showed. They communicated with him using an intercom. JP Singh, India’s deputy ambassador to Pakistan, observed the meeting from behind another partition.
India dismissed the meeting as a farce, saying Jadhav was speaking “in an atmosphere of coercion”.
“Most of his remarks were clearly tutored and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities in Pakistan,” said Raveesh Kumar, India’s foreign ministry spokesperson, in a statement.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry rejected India’s accusations, saying: “We do not wish to indulge in a meaningless battle of words. Our openness and transparency belies these allegations.”
India also accuses Pakistan of “intimidating” Jadhav’s family.
“The mother of Shri Jadhav was prevented from talking in their mother tongue, although this was clearly the natural medium of communication,” said the foreign ministry’s statement.
It also charged that Jadhav’s wife’s shoes had been removed during the security check and never returned, and warned against “any mischievous intent”.
On Wednesday, Pakistani local media, citing foreign ministry spokesperson Muhammad Faisal, reported that Chetankul’s shoes had been removed as they contained a “metallic substance”, which was being tested by Pakistani security agencies.
Of the claims that journalists taunted the women, reporters at the scene told that several journalists briefly broke into a Pakistani patriotic chant as the pair was leaving.
ICJ proceedings continue
Jadhav was arrested in March 2016 from the Pakistani province of Balochistan, Pakistani authorities say.
In a video confession, released by Pakistan, Jadhav admitted to planning, funding and facilitating attacks in southern Pakistan while based in neighbouring Iran as a serving officer of India’s RAW intelligence agency.
He was convicted and sentenced to death in April by a military court.
In May, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Pakistan to stay Jadhav’s execution pending the hearing of a case filed by India alleging that Pakistan had violated its international obligations under the Vienna Convention by not allowing the convict consular access.
In filings at the court, Pakistan has said that it is not obligated to provide consular access to prisoners who have been convicted of spying for a foreign country and who are serving members of that country’s armed forces.
India identifies Jadhav as a “former Indian naval officer”.
Hearings in the case are ongoing.