India once again demanded consular access to former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav alias Hussain Mubarak Patel who was arrested in Balochistan, Pakistan, over charges of terrorism and spying for India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). He has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court after being found guilty of spying. India was seeking consular access on the basis on international law humanitarian grounds. Over the last one year, Pakistan has denied consular access to Jadhav several times. Jadhav was earlier arrested on March 3 last year from the tensed Balochistan province. The Pakistan Army has also released a confessional video of Jadhav after his arrest. But, India has denied Pakistan’s allegation that Jadhav was a secret agent and alleged that he was kidnapped by the Pakistan authorities. Jadhav has worked with navy but the government denied any connection with him.
Many appeals were made after the verdict. Many petitions were filed to save Jadhav, because no one wants him to die like Sarabjeet Singh. Jadhav was born in Sangli, Maharashtra; his father is a retired Mumbai Police officer. Jadhav is married and has two children. His family resides in Powai. According to reports in the Pakistani media, Jadhav joined the Indian National Defence Academy in 1987 and was commissioned in the engineering branch of the Indian Navy in 1991. After the 2001 Parliament attack, he started gathering information and intelligence within India. After 14 years of service, he entered into intelligence operations in 2003, and established a small business in Chabahar in Iran. From Chabahar, he made several undetected visits to Pakistan, where his activities were confined to Karachi and Balochistan.
According to the Pakistani government, on 3 March 2016, Jadhav was arrested inside Balochistan during a counterintelligence raid conducted by security forces. He was arrested in Mashkel near the border region of Chaman, having made illegal entry into Pakistan via Iran. Pakistani security forces reported Jadhav as a serving officer in the Indian Navy and asserted that he was commissioned to the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s external intelligence agency. They believed him to be involved in subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi. Jadhav was shifted to Islamabad for interrogation.
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said that Jadhav was working for RAW and was in contact with Baloch separatists and terrorists fuelling sectarian violence in the province and the country. He further added that he was involved in financially supporting terrorists and admitted his involvements in Karachi’s unrest. Interrogation of the intelligence operative also revealed that naval combat training was being conferred to Baloch separatists, in an attempt to target the ports of Gwadar and Karachi. Pakistani authorities informed media that Jadhav during his interrogation gave details about his funding and plans to destabilise their country. During the joint conference held by the army and the government, Jadhav’s video confession was made public.
India accepted that an officer arrested in Pakistan served with their navy but at the same time denied that he was a RAW agent. Indian MEA communicated that Jadhav took premature retirement from the navy and the government had no link since his retirement from the Indian Navy. India expounded that Pakistan had fabricated the documents without ascertaining discrepancies. Previously, Pakistan has raised concerns over the involvement of foreign elements in terrorist activities in its territory but this was the first instance of India acknowledging the arrest across the border of an individual associated with its armed forces.
Pakistan stated that Jadhav entered Chabahar with a visa stamped on a fake passport numbered L9630722 in 2003 where he got a new identity of Hussain Mubarak Patel—born in 30 August 1968, from Maharashtra, India. Officials claimed that his job was to weaken Pakistan by solidifying separatist movement in Balochistan and Karachi—a mission which officially began in 2013. Jadhav in his confession said that he was the mastermind of the Safoora bus attack, where gunmen shot dead 45 Ismaili passengers, were also in contact with Haji Baloch. Jadhav added that he had met Baloch several times, sometimes for planning sectarian violence in Karachi and the rest of Sindh.
Based on Jadhav’s information, Pakistan said it arrested hundreds of undercover operatives. In April 2016, Islamabad briefed diplomats of various countries regarding Jadhav’s arrest and his claimed involvement in terrorist activities. The evidence was also shared with the United States and United Kingdom. Separately, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan held a meeting with the Iranian ambassador.
On 10 April 2017, Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) in Pakistan, following a confession before the magistrate and court. Jadhav’s trial lasted three and a half months and the charges he was convicted for included spying for India, waging war against Pakistan, sponsoring terrorism, and destabilising the state. He was tried in a military court due to his naval background and the sensitive nature of his case, involving espionage and sabotage. The sentence was confirmed by army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, and released via the ISPR.
Following the sentencing, the government of India summoned Pakistani High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit and issued a demarche stating that the proceedings that led to Jadhav’s sentencing were farcical and that India would regard Jadhav’s execution as murder in the first degree. Basit replied to the Indian foreign secretary that “on the one hand you perpetrate terrorism in Pakistan, and record a protest against us on the other. We have not done anything wrong.
Sushma Swaraj, India’s Minister of External Affairs said there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by Jadhav and termed his sentencing an act of “premeditated murder”. Swaraj said that if Pakistan implemented the death sentence, the bilateral relations between both countries would face dire consequences. The time will tell what is going to happen with Jadhav and how Indian government will succeed in saving his life. After Sarabjeet’s death too Indian government assured consequences with Pakistan but that remained only a ‘Jumla’. This time the big question is, whether we can save Jadhav?
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