At Pak meeting, Jadhav’s family members harassed, had to remove mangalsutra, bindi, bangles

In Pakistan yesterday, Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife and mother were harassed and forced to remove their mangalsutra, the bindis on their foreheads and their bangles, said the ministry of external affairs today.

What’s more, Jadhav’s mother and wife had to change clothes before they were allowed in to meet the Indian national, and on the way out Jadhav’s wife wasn’t given her footwear back, said the MEA.

Jadhav, the MEA said, “was under considerable stress, speaking under coercion” with tutored answers. His appearance also rasied serious questions, the MEA said, referring to how gaunt and pale, the Indian national looked in footage released by Pakistan.

The MEA’s description of the meeting – tom-tommed by Pakistan as a “humanitarian gesture” – conveys the hostile and scary atmosphere that Jadhav’s family members got to see him under. Cultural sensitivities were ignored, they were prevented from speaking in their mother tongue Marathi and were continually interrupted so as to intimidate.

Jadhav is on death row in Pakistan, convicted for ‘spying’, a charge India vigorously refutes. After months of petitioning, Pakistan allowed his family members to meet Jadhav yesterday, but from behind a glass partition. The three were also only allowed to speak via intercom.

We “…regret that contrary to assurances, the overall atmosphere of the meeting was intimidating insofar as family members were concerned. Family members, however, handled the situation with great courage and fortitude,” said MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar.

Pakistan took no note of India’s concerns, showed no consideration for Jadhav’s family members and as much as humiliated them, the MEA said.

Despite being clearly told by India that the Pakistani press should not be allowed access to Jadhav’s mother Avanti and his wife Chetankul, the media camped outside the Pakistan foreign office heckled and shouted out at them, the MEA said.

“The Pakistani press was allowed on multiple occasions to approach family members closely, harass and hector them and hurl false and motivated accusations about Shri Jadhav. This was despite a clear agreement that the media would not be allowed close access.,” the MEA said.

As well, far from providing Jadhav consular access – like Pakistan first claimed yesterday before retracting the falsehood – India’s deputy high commissioner was deliberately kept away from Jadhav’s kin, especially as they went into the foreign office for the meeting.

“The deputy high commissioner was initially separated from family members who were taken to the meeting without informing him. The meeting was started without his presence and he could join only after pressing the matter with concerned officials. Even then, he was kept behind an additional partition that did not allow him access to the meeting as agreed,” said the MEA describing the grim scene.

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