Family of Jadhav harassed at meeting, India says

Monitoring Desk

NEW DELHI: A meeting between an Indian on death row in Pakistan and his family was carried out in an “atmosphere of coercion”, the Ministry of External Affairs said Tuesday.

Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death in April by a military tribunal over allegations of working for the Indian intelligence, met his mother Avanti and wife Chetankul on Monday.

The 40-minute meeting, conducted through a glass screen at the Foreign Office in Islamabad, was portrayed as a humanitarian gesture by Pakistan.

However, in a statement the Indian Ministry of Exte-rnal Affairs complained of harassment, intimidation and disregard for the family’s religious and cultural feelings.

The “Pakistani side conducted the meeting in a manner which violated the letter and spirit of our understandings,” the statement said following a meeting between the women and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

The ministry said the media was allowed to approach Avanti and Chetankul Jadhav and “harass and hector them”. They were also asked to remove jewelry and their bindi forehead dots worn by Hindu women as well as change their clothing on security grounds.

Jadhav’s mother was also stopped from speaking in her native language and his wife’s shoes were not retur-ned after the visit, the statement said.

The ministry also complained that the Indian Deputy High Commissioner was not given the agreed level of access to the meeting.

“It appears that Shri Jadhav was under considerable stress and speaking in an atmosphere of coercion,” the statement said.

“Most of his remarks were clearly tutored and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities in Pakistan. His appearance also raises questions of his health and well-being.”

In a video message filmed before the meeting, Jadhav, 47, thanked the Pakistani government for “this grand gesture”.

Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal later described him as the “face of Indian terrorism”.