New Delhi: Congress leader and Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor on Monday said Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav’s meeting with his family was a step forward but the process was deeply unsatisfactory.
Speaking to ANI, the Congress leader said, “It is a step forward because after 21 to 22 months they (Pakistan Government) have arrested that poor man and finally somebody has been able to see him. So to that degree, it is a step forward.”
“On the other hand, the way in which it all unfolded was deeply unsatisfactory. From the point of view of the family, the fact that both the mother and the wife were able to visit him was a good thing. But they could not touch him, hold him or hug him and they were able to see him only through a glass partition,” he added.
Tharoor stressed: “I think that was emotional but especially painful for them, since the man is officially been sentenced to death. They may never see them alive again. In that sense, it was very disappointingly unhumanitarian spirit in which it was conducted.”
He added that the Foreign Minister of Pakistan made a statement earlier today that they have granted the consular access, despite the fact that the Indian government had repeatedly applied for 22 months.
“But there was no consular access. I think we made 18 requests, but we were refused every single time. In fact, the Deputy High Commissioner was allowed to accompany the family up to there but he was not allowed to interact with the individual. A consular access means that an official consular can ask you questions and see how you are being treated and give a report back to the Headquarters. But the Deputy High Commissioner was not in a condition to speak apparently to the detenu,” Tharoor further said.
He asserted that the main concern was the way Jadhav looked.
“Clearly the man has been held under duress. He has been badly treated, there is no doubt about it, but at least we know today that he is alive and they have not done anything worse to him. But is it going to be the first step towards a decent treatment and release and exchange of prisoner or is it merely a public relations stunt where you show the world that you have granted access and then you hang the person? We don’t know,” Tharoor asked.
He further said both the countries relation is at an all time low, which means that India cannot hope for anything better than what has been offered so far.
“I certainly would not take undue satisfaction from this meeting but nor would I say completely negative things because at least the meeting happened and the family was able to meet him. At least we know he is alive and is in a reasonable shape. As far as I know there were no private messages exchanged, but let us except that something is better than nothing particularly if it turns out to be the first step in the positive direction and that’s what we must hope for,” Tharoor added.
Earlier in the day, the wife and the mother of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav finally met him at Islamabad.
The two women first visited the Indian High Commission in the Pakistani capital, after which they moved to meet Jadhav at the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).
Indian Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad JP Singh was also present during the meeting.
Pakistan Rangers, Anti-Terrorism Squads (ATS) and sharp shooters were deployed at the roof tops, in view of the meeting.
Other than media and security personnel, no other traffic was allowed in the area around the Pakistan MoFA building.
Jadhav’s kin reached the Pakistani capital earlier in the day via Dubai.
They arrived in an unnamed commercial flight and are scheduled to leave later in the evening.
Pakistan had agreed to facilitate the visit of Jadhav’s family and also assured their safety, security, and freedom of movement in the country.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Foreign Office, in a statement, has clarified that Jadhav was not given consular access.
The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi issued visas to Jadhav’s mother and wife on December 20.
Islamabad has repeatedly rejected New Delhi’s plea for consular access to Jadhav at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging he was not an ordinary person and had entered the country with intent of spying and carrying out sabotage activities.
Jadhav was arrested in March this year, in Balochistan, Pakistan, over charges of alleged involvement in ‘espionage and subversive activities for India’s intelligence agency – the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).’
India, however, maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Indian Navy.
Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) in Pakistan on April 10.
The ICJ stayed the hanging on May 18, after India approached it against the death sentence.