India today slammed Pakistan for making “absurd” charges of a chip, camera or a recorder being installed in the footwear of the wife of Indian death row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav and said Islambad has frittered away an opportunity to move forward in ties by turning his meeting with his family as a propaganda tool. In identical statements in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India has conveyed its objections to Pakistan in a note verbale yesterday over the way it had conducted Jadhav’s meeting with his mother and wife in Islamabad earlier this week. “This meeting could have been a step towards moving forward. But, it is a matter of great disappointment, that the meeting took place flouting all the understandings both countries had agreed to,” she said. Making a stinging attack on Pakistan, she said an emotional meeting of a mother with his son and of a wife with her husband after 22 months has been “used” by Pakistan as a “tool of propaganda”. Following the statement, the members of all parties in the Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha supported the government on the issue.
Swaraj said Jadhav’s mother and wife were taken for the meeting through a separate door without informing the accompanying Deputy High Comissioner of India, stripped of their bindi, bangles and ‘mangalsutra’, made to change into different clothes and wear slippers by discarding their shoes. “If he had seen them (without bindi, bangles and ‘mangalsutra’), he would have protested and would never have allowed them to go to the meeting that way. In his absence, the meeting was started,” Swaraj said. She emphasised that both the wife and the mother were asked to remove their bindis and jewellery, which had led Jadhav to ask about the welfare of his father as soon as they sat down for the meeting. Normally, a Hindu woman does not wear the ‘mangalsutra’ and bindi or vermillion after the death of her husband.
She said removal of the ‘mangalsutra’ was a height of disrespect as Jadhav’s mother had told the Pakistani officials that it was symbol of marriage, but they did not relent. After the meeting, Pakistani authorities also did not return the shoes of Jadhav’s wife despite repeated requests. Swaraj said not returning the shoes has given rise to suspicion that Pakistan was up to some “mischief”. “The Pakistan authorities have been cautioned against any mischievous intent in this regard through a Note Verbale yesterday,” she said. Now, Pakistani authorities are talking of chip, camera or a recorder being installed in the shoes, she said. The charge is “absurdity beyond measure,” she said, adding that the two women had cleared security at airports in Delhi and Dubai and in Pakistan and no such device was detected during these thorough airport security checks there. “The meeting of Kulbhushan Jadav with his mother and wife was portrayed by Pakistan as a humanitarian gesture. However, the truth is that both humanity and compassion were missing during the meeting that was arranged on humanitarian and compassionate grounds,” the External Affairs Minister said.
She said there was “serious and gross violation of human rights of the family members of Jadhav and an intimidating atmosphere was created for them during this meeting.” “There are not enough words to condemn the same,” she said. “I am fully confident that this entire House and through the House, the people of India, strongly condemns, in one voice, the obnoxious behaviour of Pakistan and affirm their solidarity with the Jadhav family.” The Minister said the government had approached the International Court of Justice and obtained provisional measures staying the execution of the death sentence that was passed on Jadhav through “a farcical Pakistani military court process.” “While the imminent threat to Jadhav’s safety was averted as a result, we are now engaged in seeking a permanent relief, based on stronger arguments, through the legal avenue offered by the International Court of Justice,” she said. She said the mother and wife, on their return from Islambad, had conveyed to her that Jadhav appeared “under considerable stress and was speaking in an atmosphere of coercion.” “As the meeting progressed, it was clear to them that his (Jadhav’s) remarks were tutored by his captors and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities. His appearance also raised questions of his health and well-being,” she said.
Before the statement, Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said the matter was sensitive and was before the International Court of Justice and urged the MPs should exercise restrain in making statements keeping the welfare of Jadhav in mind. Members cutting across party lines supported the government on the issue with Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the misbehaviour with Jadhav’s wife and mother was “misbehaviour with wives and mothers of 130 crore Indians.” “We will not tolerate insults to the wives and mothers and to the country’s dignity,” Azad said, adding the government should ensure that Pakistan ensures Jadhav’s saftey in custody.
Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Derek O’Brien (TMC), Harivansh (JD-U), Dilip Tirkey (BJD), Tapan Kumar Sen (CPM), T Devendra Goud (TDP), Veer Singh (BSP), Thiruchi Siva (DMK), D Raja (CPI), Sukhdev Singh Dindsa (Akali Dal), Abdul Wahab (IML), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), Bhupendra Yadav (BJP) and Ram Das Athavale (RPI) supported the government in the matter. Naidu said the entire House joins together to appreciate the efforts of the government and asks it to take steps to ensure safe and secure release of Jadhav. He also wanted the government to convey to the international coummunity that Pakistan behaved in an inhuman manner.