Cries of “shame! shame!” could be heard from treasury benches even as Swaraj made her statement in Lok Sabha.
New Delhi: The government on Thursday blasted Pakistan for making “absurd” charges of a chip, camera or a recorder being installed in the footwear of the wife of Indian death row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav, and added that Islamabad has frittered away an opportunity to take bilateral ties forward by turning the meeting into propaganda tool.
Making identical statements in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said India conveyed its objections to Pakistan in a note verbale on Wednesday over the way it had conducted the meeting. Mr Jadhav’s wife and mother were presented as “widows” before him on December 25 in Islamabad, she said.
“This meeting could have been a step towards moving forward. But it is a matter of great disappointment that the meeting took place flouting all the understandings both countries had agreed to,” Ms Swaraj said.
Cries of “shame! shame!” could be heard from treasury benches even as Ms Swaraj made her statement in Lok Sabha.
After the meeting, the Pakistani authorities also did not return the shoes of Mr Jadhav’s wife Chetankul despite repeated requests, the minister said, and added that not returning the shoes gave rise to suspicion that Pakistan was up to some “mischief”.
“The Pakistan authorities have been cautioned against any mischievous intent in this regard through a note verbale on Wednesday,” she said.
Slamming Pakistani authorities for talking of chip, camera or a recorder being installed in the shoes, she said. The charge is “absurdity beyond measure,” she said and added that adding that the two women had cleared security at airports in Delhi and Dubai and in Pakistan where no such device was detected.
In a stinging attack on Pakistan, she said an emotional meeting of a mother with his son and a wife with her husband after 22 months has been “used” by Pakistan as a “tool of propaganda”.
Following the statement, members of all parties in Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha supported the government on the issue.
Ms Swaraj said that Mr Jadhav’s mother and wife were taken for the meeting through a separate door without informing the accompanying deputy high commissioner of India, stripped of their mangalsutra, bindi and bangles, made to change clothes and shoes.
“If he had seen them (without mangalsutra, bindi and bangles), he would have protested and would never have allowed them to go to the meeting that way. In his absence, the meeting was started,” Ms Swaraj said.
Due to the absence of his mother’s mangalsutra, Mr Jadhav asked her about the well being of his father as soon as they sat down for the meeting. Ms Swaraj said, “The meeting of Kulbhushan Jadhav with his mother and wife was portrayed by Pakistan as a humanitarian gesture. However, the truth is that both humanity and compassion were missing during the meeting..”
Pakistan says Mr Jadhav, an ex-Indian Navy officer, was arrested in Balochistan in March last year with a fake passport, a charge denied by India, which says he was kidnapped from Iran where he has legitimate business.
The 47-year-old has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court, but the execution has been stayed by the International Court of Justice following India’s efforts.
“Serious and gross violation of human rights of the family members of Mr Jadhav and an intimidating atmosphere was created for them during this meeting,” she added.
“I am fully confident that this entire House and through the House, the people of India, strongly condemn, in one voice, the obnoxious behaviour of Pakistan and affirm their solidarity with the Jadhav family,” she said.
She said the mother and wife, on their return from Islamaad, had conveyed to her that Mr hav appeared “under considerable stress and was speaking in an atmosphere of coercion”.
“As the meeting progressed, it was clear to them that his (Jadhav’s) remarks were tutored by his captors and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities. His appearance also raised questions of his health and well- being”, he said.
Before the statement, Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu said that the matter was sensitive and was before the International Court of Justice and urged the MPs to exercise restraint in making statements keeping the welfare of Mr Jadhav in mind.
In Rajya Sabha, members cutting across party lines supported the government on the issue with Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad saying that the misbehaviour with Mr Jadhav’s wife and mother was “misbehaviour with wives and mothers of 130 crore Indians”.
“We will not tolerate insults to the wives and mothers and to the country’s dignity,” Mr Azad said, adding that the government should ensure that Pakistan ensures Mr Jadhav’s saftey in custody.
In Lok Sabha, some Congress and Left MPs sought clarifications from Ms Swaraj but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said that questions can’t be raised on statements.