Over a year after former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav, 46, was arrested, a military court in Pakistan has sentenced him to death for “espionage and subversive activities”, triggering a sharp reaction from India which called it “premeditated murder”.
The Pakistan Army announced that its chief, General Qamar Ahmed Bajwa, on Monday approved Jadhav’s execution after a Field General Court Martial found him “guilty of all charges”.
Hours after the sentencing was made public, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit and conveyed that if Jadhav is awarded the capital punishment, India will consider it a “case of premeditated murder”. Issuing a demarche to Basit, India said “the proceedings that led to the sentence” against Jadhav were “farcical in the absence of any credible evidence” against him.
A top government source told The Indian Express that New Delhi will explore all “diplomatic and other” options to obtain Jadhav’s release.
Over the last one year, New Delhi has submitted a note verbale to Islamabad “13 times” for “consular access” — the first step towards establishing the identity of an Indian national and providing legal aid — but the Pakistan government denied the request.
“Indian RAW agent/ Naval officer 41558Z Commander Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav alias Hussein Mubarak Patel was arrested on March 3, 2016 through a counter intelligence operation from Mashkel, Balochistan, for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan.
The spy has been tried through Field General Court Martial (FGCM) under Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and awarded death sentence. Today, Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, has confirmed his death sentence awarded by FGCM,” said a press released issued by Pakistan Army’s spokesperson Asif Ghafoor.
“Jadhav was tried by FGCM under Section 59 of Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 and Section 3 of Official Secrets Act of 1923. FGCM found Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav guilty of all the charges. He 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 by impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi.
“The accused was provided with defending officer as per legal provisions,” it said.