Harassment of Kulbhushan Jadhav's mother, wife to escalate India-Pakistan tension

The harassment of Kulbhushan Jadhav's wife and mother by Pakistan government's officials is set to escalate tension between New Delhi and Islamabad over the death sentence awarded to the former Indian Navy officer.

New Delhi is set to lodge a strong protest with Islamabad over the way Kulbhushan's mother Avanti and wife Chetankul were ill-treated by security officials of Pakistan during their visit to Islamabad on Monday.

Sources told DH that India's disapproval of the manner in which the two women were harassed by Pakistan would be conveyed through diplomatic channels, both in New Delhi and in Islamabad.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will make a statement on the issue in both Houses of Parliament on Thursday. She is likely to spell out the details of the understanding New Delhi and Islamabad had reached about the modalities for Kulbhushan's meeting with his wife and mother at the Foreign Office of Pakistan government. She will also tell the Lok Sabha how Pakistan flouted the letter and spirit of the understanding to turn the meeting into an attempt to bolster its false and unsubstantiated narrative of the alleged activities of the former Indian Navy officer in the neighbouring country.

Sushma had a meeting with the wife and mother of Kulbhushan in New Delhi on Tuesday. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and India's Deputy High Commissioner to Pakistan, J P Singh, were also present in the meeting.

Singh accompanied the two women to the Foreign Office of Pakistan government on Monday. Pakistani officials, however, breached the understanding reached between New Delhi and Islamabad earlier and did not inform Singh when Avanti and Chetankul were taken to the venue for the meeting with Kulbhushan. It was only after Singh took it up with officials of the Foreign Office of Pakistan that he was taken to the venue.

Sources said that the meeting took place in a shipping container placed in the parking lot of the Foreign Office in Islamabad. The shipping container had been separated by glass panels into three parts, one for Kulbhushan and another for Avanti and Chetankul. They could talk to each other through intercom. Singh was given access to the third chamber, but he could not listen to the conversation or take part in it, sources said.

Avanti and Chetankul told Sushma that Kulbhushan appeared to be coerced by officials of Pakistan and was making "tutored remarks". He spoke in English and the Pakistani officials did not allow his mother to converse with him in their mother language Marathi.

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