Islamabad, September 2, 2019: For the first time since Kulbhushan Jadhav’s detention in 2016, a top Indian diplomat met him on Monday at a sub-jail for an hour after Pakistan granted consular access to the Indian death-row convict “in line with the International Court of Justice judgment”.
India’s Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad Gaurav Ahluwalia met the retired Indian Navy officer at the sub-jail in Islamabad, amid tensions between the two countries over Kashmir. Their meeting lasted for an hour, Geo TV reported, quoting sources.
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 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.
However, it is not yet clear if the consular access provided on Monday was unhindered as demanded by India.
On Sunday, Faisal tweeted that consular access for Jadhav will be provided on September 2 “in line with Vienna Convention on Consular relations, ICJ judgement & the laws of Pakistan”.
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.
Sajjad Hussain (PTI)