On Monday April 10, 2017, Pakistan announced that Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian arrested in March 2016, was sentenced to death by a military court, based on allegations of espionage and promoting separatist elements in Balochistan.
India denies that Jadhav is an India spy and protested strongly against the sentence. Indians have strongly rallied behind Jadhav and social media sites are full of angry protests. Here’s all you need to know about Kulbhushan Jadhav.
Who is Kulbhushan Jadhav?
Kulbhushan Jadhav is the son of Sudhir Jadhav, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police from Mumbai. He joined the National Defence Academy in 1987 and graduated into the Navy in 1991. Most sources agree that for the past 14 years Jadhav has been in Iran and working as a scrap merchant.
According to Pakistani official versions, Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, as he was trying to enter Balochistan from Iran.
Pakistan claims that Jadhav is under the employ of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s intelligence agency. Pakistan also claims that Jadhav was sent by India as a spy and to sabotage the country’s security by promoting the separatists of Balochistan. Soon after his arrest, Pakistan released a video of Jadhav’s “confession”. Pakistani authorities also claim that Jadhav was holding a fake passport under the name of Hussain Mubarak Patel at the time of his arrest.
Through the past months, Jadhav has been denied consular access and Indian authorities have not been allowed to contact him either. The trial held by Pakistan’s military court was a hasty one and Jadhav was not given adequate opportunity to defend himself. Pakistan’s Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa confirmed the sentence, which has been deemed “unprecedented” even by the country’s media.
India Denies Kulbhushan’s Espionage
India denies any involvement of Jadhav in espionage activities. The government agrees that Jadhav was a Naval officer but was granted retirement in 2002 and has not undertaken any subsequent government work. India strongly condemns Jadhav’s arrest which was done by kidnapping him from Iran or luring him into Balochistan under false pretexts.
India claims that Jadhav’s “confession” was received under duress and the video has numerous discrepancies. It comes across as a heavily doctored and edited video. India also claims that Pakistan has no real proof connecting Jadhav with espionage.
Indians React Strongly
Indians have reacted strongly to the news of Jadhav’s impending execution. Protesters gathered at many places in the country and raised slogans against Pakistan. A huge gathering outside the Pakistan High Commission (Delhi) protested Jadhav’s trial and subsequent death sentence as well. The social media outpour in defence of Jadhav has also been considerable.
Jadhav’s family, meanwhile, is distraught over the news.
India – Pakistan Tensions Escalate
Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit was summoned by the External Affairs Ministry and was handed an official demarche saying that the death sentence was more of a “premeditated murder”. The various parties of the country united in protest against Jadhav’s sentence and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor helped the government in drafting a statement which may soon translate into a Lok Sabha resolution.
India has also decided not to release a number of Pakistani prisoners who were supposed to be released after their terms in Indian prisons. It is a standard practice in India to repatriate Pakistani nationals (who are found guilty of violating Indian laws) after their term ends.
Sushma Swaraj, the External Affairs Minister addressed the Rajya Sabha and said that Pakistan must “consider the consequences on our bilateral relations if they choose to proceed on this”. She said that the issue was a conspiracy and an “indefensible verdict on an Indian national”.
Over the past years other Indian nationals have been put to death by Pakistan on charges of espionage. In 1999, Sheikh Shamim was hanged. The death of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian farmer who was deemed a RAW agent, by fellow inmates in a Lahore prison also reeked of conspiracy. India, too, has held a number of Pakistani nationals on charges of espionage in the past, but none of them have been put to death.
India believes that Jadhav’s trial and sentence are a diversionary tactic and an attempt to blame India for the separatist movement in Balochistan.