Pak sentences former Indian Navy man to death

Claims he was spy; Delhi calls it planned murder

Pak sentences former Indian Navy man to death

A Pakistan military court has sentenced former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav to death after he was convicted of “espionage and sabotage activities”.

New Delhi, which was caught unaware, warned Islamabad that it is a case of “premeditated murder” and described the trial proceedings that led to the capital punishment for Jadhav as “farcical”.

The sentencing is expected to further deteriorate the already strained ties between the two nations that was hit after the deadly attacks in Pathankot and Uri by Pakistan-based terrorists last year.

The death sentence was confirmed by Pakistan army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa after the field general court martial  found him guilty of “all the charges”, said Pakistan’s military media wing Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

The court martial was closed to the public and consular access was not provided to Jadhav. He was tried under Section 59 of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, and Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

According to the ISPR statement, Jadhav, a commander in the Indian Navy, “confessed” before a magistrate and the court that he was “tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi”.

It also claimed that Jadhav was “provided with a defending officer as per the legal provisions”. Pakistan claims its security forces arrested Jadhav from the restive Balochistan province on March 3 last year after he reportedly entered from Iran, and that he was “a serving officer in the Indian Navy”. The Pakistan army had also released a “confessional video” of Jadhav after his arrest.

India reacts strongly

A fuming New Delhi responded quickly with Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoning Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, to the South Block and issuing him a strongly worded démarche.

New Delhi also decided to postpone indefinitely a pre-scheduled release and repatriation of around 12 Pakistanis languishing in Indian prisons.

Ever since Jadhav’s arrest was made public by Pakistan, New Delhi has been maintaining that he was an official of the Indian navy, but he had “no link with the government since his premature retirement” in 2002. “He was kidnapped last year from Iran and his subsequent presence in Pakistan has never been explained credibly,” Jaishankar noted in the démarche.

“If this sentence against an Indian citizen, awarded without observing basic norms of law and justice, is carried out, the government and the people of India will regard it as a case of premeditated murder,” the foreign secretary stated.

Jaishankar noted that New Delhi had requested Islamabad 13 times between March 25, 2016, and March 31, 2017, to give High Commission of India in Pakistan consular access to Jadhav. But New Delhi’s requests had been turned down by Islamabad, he added.

“It is significant that our High Commission was not even informed that Jadhav was being brought to trial,” New Delhi noted.

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