India gets consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav for first time

PTI Islamabad | Updated on September 02, 2019 Published on September 02, 2019

Kulbhushan Jadhav (file pic)

For the first time since Kulbhushan Jadhav’s detention in 2016, a top Indian diplomat met him on Monday for two hours after Pakistan granted consular access to the Indian death-row convict in line with the “Vienna Convention and the ICJ verdict.”

India’s Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia met the retired Indian Navy officer, amid tensions between the two countries over Kashmir.

“Consular access was provided at 1200 hours and lasted for two hours, in the presence of officials of the Government of Pakistan,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

On India’s request, there was no restriction on the language of communication, the FO said, adding that the “access was recorded“.

“As a responsible member of the international community and in line with our international commitments, Pakistan has provided un-impeded, uninterrupted consular access to India to Commander Jadhav,” it said.

The statement did not disclose the venue of the meeting. However, the Pakistani media reported that the meeting took place at a sub-jail here.

Before meeting Jadhav, the senior Indian diplomat met Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal at the foreign ministry.

Jadhav, 49, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” in April 2017, following which India had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seeking a stay on his death sentence and further remedies.

On August 1, the Foreign Office said the retired Indian Navy officer will be granted consular access the next day. However, the meeting, which was scheduled for 3 pm on August 2, did not materialise amid differences between India and Pakistan on the terms of the consular access to Jadhav.

India had demanded “immediate, effective and unhindered” consular access to Jadhav from Pakistan and was in touch with Islamabad through diplomatic channels.

The consular access to Jadhav came amidst fresh Indo-Pak tensions, which spiked after India abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories.

On August 7, Pakistan expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria after it downgraded the diplomatic ties with India over the Kashmir issue.

On July 17, the ICJ ordered Pakistan to undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.

Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016 after he reportedly entered from Iran.

However, India maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.

In December 2017, the wife and mother of Jadhav were allowed to meet him at the Foreign Office - but from behind a glass screen.

Published on September 02, 2019
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