NEW DELHI (PTI) India Tuesday warned Pakistan to consider the “consequences” on their ties if Kulbhushan Jadhav is hanged in the alleged espionage case and vowed to go “out of the way” to save him amid an outrage in this country.
The death sentence awarded to Jadhav by a Pakistani military court after declaring him a “spy” echoed in both Houses of Parliament where all parties came together to condemn the “indefensible” verdict and pressed the government to take every step to help him.
Outside Parliament, the Congress urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to mount diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to secure the release of the 46-year-old former Naval officer.
“Death sentence is a deliberate provocation to India. BJP Govt needs to travel beyond advisories. PM must intervene to secure his release (sic),” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.
Protests against the death sentence were also staged outside the Pakistan High Commission here. The protesters were led by Congress leader Shehzad Poonawalla.
In Parliament, the government as well as the opposition saw the capital punishment as an attempt to defame India and to deflect the attention of the international community from Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made a statement in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, asserting that India will go “out of the way” to ensure justice to Jadhav who is an “innocent kidnapped Indian”.
Jadhav’s execution will be taken by India as a “pre-meditated murder” and Pakistan should “consider its consequences” on bilateral relations, if it proceeds on this matter, Swaraj warned.
She said the charges against Jadhav, who was doing business in Iran and was kidnapped and taken to Pakistan, are “concocted” and the trial against him was “farcical”, leading to an “indefensible verdict”.
“Let me state clearly that the government and the people of India would view very seriously the possibility that an innocent Indian citizen is facing death sentence in Pakistan without due process and in violation of basic norms of law, justice and international relations,” she said.
“There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Jadhav. If anything, he is the victim of a plan that seeks to cast aspersions on India to deflect international attention from Pakistan’s well-known record of sponsoring and supporting terrorism.”
Questioning the trial, she said Pakistan had sought India’s assistance to obtain evidence for its investigation and levelled ridiculous charges against senior Indian officials who had no connection to this issue.
Thereafter, Pakistan linked providing consular access to India’s acceptance of its position and and Indian response was constructive in the hope that some forward movement could be made, Swaraj said.
“We pointed out that consular access to Shri Jadhav would be an essential pre-requisite in order to verify the facts and understand the circumstances of his presence in Pakistan.
“Given this exchange, it is extraordinary that yesterday, a decision is suddenly announced awarding a death sentence in this case when previous exchanges with India itself underlines the insufficiency of evidencem” she said.
“To make matters even more absurd, three hours after the death sentence was announced, the Indian High Commission received an official communication from the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan, reiterating the Pakistani proposal for conditional consular access.
“That tells us a lot about the farcical nature of the alleged proceedings which have led to an indefensible verdict against an innocent kidnapped Indian,” she asserted.
In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, while expressing outrage over the development, said the Indian government should provide Jadhav the best of the lawyers to ensure that the truth prevails.
Responding to this, the External Affairs Minister said the government will not only ensure that Jadhav is provided with the best of lawyers in the Supreme Court of Pakistan but will also take it up with the President of Pakistan.
“Whatever is necessary, we will do. We will go out of the way…,” she said, adding that Jadhav was now “not only the son of his parents, but is the son of India.”
She also informed Parliament that a senior Pakistani leader has himself expressed doubts about the adequacy of evidence in the case.
She said she has been in touch with Jadhav’s parents and the government was extending its fullest support to them in this difficult situation.
Earlier in the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the government will do everything possible to get justice for Jadhav.
While condemning the action, Singh said that Pakistan had ignored all norms of law and justice.
“The government strongly condemns it. All norms of law and justice were ignored. I want to assure the House that the government will do everything possible to get justice for Jadhav. He will get justice,” he said.
As soon as the Lok Sabha met for the day, members cutting across party lines slammed Pakistan for awarding death sentence to Jadhav.
Leader of the Congress Mallikarjun Kharge wondered why the government remained silent on the issue. His remarks attracted the ire of BJP members who said the government was condemning the incident.
Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) urged the government to use its influence for the release of the Indian citizen.
Shashi Tharoor (Cong) asserted that the sentence was against all international norms.
N K Premchandran (RSP), Vinayak Raut (Shiv Sena) and Saugata Roy (AITC) expressed similar sentiments.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also wrote to Swaraj urging her to secure Jadhav’s release.