2020-07-16 23:06:00
Kulbhushan Jadhav

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday said Pakistan did not give “unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional” consular access to Indian death row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav in violation of an order by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and its officials left the meeting venue after lodging a protest.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said Jadhav was “visibly under stress” and indicated that clearly to the Indian consular officers. The arrangement did not permit a free conversation between the Indian officials and Jadhav, he said adding that the Indian consular officers could not speak to Jadhav on his legal rights and were prevented from obtaining his written consent for arranging his legal representation.

Earlier on Thursday, Pakistan said that it was permitting Indian consular officials to meet Jadhav ahead of a deadline to file a review petition in a Pakistani court against his conviction by a military court on charges of espionage and terrorism.

“The consular officers were not given unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional access to Jadhav. On the contrary, Pakistani officials with an intimidating demeanour were present in close proximity of Jadhav and consular officers despite the protests of the Indian side,” Srivastava said.

It was also evident that the meeting was being recorded given that a camera was visible in the meeting room where Jadhav and consular officials were in.

“In the light of these circumstances, the Indian consular officers came to the conclusion that the consular access being offered by Pakistan was neither meaningful nor credible. After lodging a protest, they left the venue,” Srivastava said.

Jadhav, 50, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and terrorism” in April 2017. Weeks later, India approached the International Court of Justice against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.

The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July last year that Pakistan must undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.

“It is clear that Pakistan’s approach to this matter continues to be obstructive and insincere. It has not only violated its assurance to the ICJ to fully implement the 2019 judgement, but also failed to act in accordance with its own ordinance,” Srivastava said. He said foreign minister S Jaishankar had apprised Jadhav’s family about Thursday’s developments.

“We reiterate our commitment to ensure the safe return of Jadhav to India and will decide on a future course of action in the light of the events today,” the foreign ministry spokesperson said.

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