The death sentence will be regarded as an act of premeditated murder: Sushma Swaraj
India won't take Pakistan’s decision to sentence Kulbhushan Jadhav to a death penalty lightly. The sentencing is likely to push back the bilateral relations between the two countries
Cautioning Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday expressed dismay over the decision to award the death sentence to Indian citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan’s military court. She asserted that this will have consequences for the bilateral relations between the two nations. The minister said that if the sentence is carried out, it will be regarded as an act of “premeditated murder”.
Swaraj was not alone in the condemnation. On the penultimate day of the budget session parliamentarians condemned Pakistan’s decision in unison saying that it reflected Pakistan's ulterior motives. Swaraj who was speaking in the Upper House said, “Our position is very clear, there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Kulbhushan Jadhav.” Calling Jadhav an ‘innocent-kidnapped-Indian’ Swaraj labeled the alleged proceedings of the Pakistan’s military court farcical in nature. She reiterated that there is no evidence against Jadhav, if anything he is a victim of a plan that seeks to cast “aspersions on India” to deflect international attention from Pakistan’s well-known record of sponsoring and supporting terrorism.
Agreeing with these sentiments, Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Lok Sabha said, “The House and the government strongly condemn the Pakistani actions on this. Whatever needs to be done will be done by the government and every attempt will be made to ensure that justice is done to Kulbhushan Jadhav." Rajnath went on to say that all norms of law and justice were ignored by Pakistan’s military.
Responding to Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Swaraj clarified that India will help Jadhav in getting the best assistance in the Supreme Court and if required it will approach the President of Pakistan as well.
Jadhav was arrested last year by the Pakistan Army from Balochistan and was accused of being an agent with India’s Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW). He was accused of fuelling the Baloch separatist movement to destabilise the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The charges were denied by the Indian government which has been repeatedly saying that Jadhav was initially picked up from Iran and then taken to Pakistan.
The ruling was issued by the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) of the Pakistan Army on Monday. In a statement released by the Inter Service Public Relation (ISPR) the military said, “He (Kulbhushan Jadhav) confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan.”
Following the decision of FGCM, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned the Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi and handed over a demarche. India has expressed it to Pakistan that, “The proceedings that have led to the sentence against Jadhav are farcical in the absence of any credible evidence against him. It is significant that our high commission was not even informed that Jadhav was being brought to trial.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan has been continuously refusing India’s request for consular access to Jadhav who was found in possession of an Iranian residency permit under the name of Hussain Mubarak Patel which indicated his place of birth to be Sangli in Maharashtra.
The decision is also being criticised by human rights agencies like Amnesty International which has said, “Under Pakistan’s military courts, no information about charges or evidence against suspects is made public.” It is worth mentioning here that in 2013 another Indian national, Sarabjit, who was on a death roll for over 13 years was killed by inmates in a Pakistani jail.
(With inputs from UNI)