A couple of days back, after much diplomatic haggling and dealing, Pakistan finally allowed the mother and wife of the arrested Indian ex-naval officer, Mr. Kulbhusan Jadhav to meet him. He had been sentenced to death in a Pakistani Field General Court Martial on April 10, 2017 after a trial on the charges of espionage for the Indian State and working for India’s external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) after being arrested from Balochistan on March 3, 2016.
Not only were the charges frivolous and the punishment deemed unnecessarily harsh, but conventionally held legal laws were overlooked and overstepped at multiple counts. He was tortured repeatedly and his confessions made under duress were used to frame charges. Mr. Jadhav has been denied consular access repeatedly. This forced India to move a petition before the ICJ, the United Nations’ principal judicial organ, on May 9, 2017 to seek justice for Jadhav.
India had accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. On May 19, 2017, the ICJ ruled for the immediate suspension of the death sentence handed to Kulbhushan Jadhav. The ICJ “unanimously” ruled that “Pakistan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Mr. Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision in these proceedings and shall inform the court of all the measures taken in implementation of the present order”. The ICJ judges also punched massive holes in Pakistan’s argument that Jadhav was not entitled to consular access since he was being tried as a spy and that the Vienna Convention was overridden by a bilateral pact signed between the two countries in 2008. However this verdict is only interim and a final verdict on this case will only be delivered in a few years’ time and there is no guarantee that Pakistan will adhere to the ICJ’s ruling for that long.
Meanwhile, back home in India, Jadhav’s family and friends were getting restless. After much efforts by the Indian Foreign Ministry, Pakistan agreed to grant visas to Jadhav’s wife and mother to meet him in a Pakistani Jail. To call Indo-Pakistani relations turbulent is an understatement but here, in this humane moment, Pakistan had finally, a chance to show their good side and win hearts for a peace that is desired by most in both countries. But, if wishes came true, the world would have been a much better place. Pakistan, perhaps true to its double-dealing nature or utterly confused what humanity actually means, botched this gesture of goodwill and turned it into an inhuman slugfest.
The wife and mother of Mr Jadhav were subjected to repeated checks and continuously harassed by the Pakistani media. His wife was forced to remove her “bindi” and her “mangalsutra”. Did the Pakistani really think that an innocent Indian woman who was meeting her husband after so long will try to break him out of the jail using a mini-bazooka hidden somewhere in her mangalsutra. Or did they think that her bindi contained a GPS chip that could pinpoint their position for a daring commando raid? Perhaps the Pakistanis could not decipher that happens only in movies and not in actual life. Jadhav’s mother was unable to speak to her son in her native tongue. Were the Pakistani’s thinking that she would whisper some secret codes to aid in his escape? What type of a sane man forces a mother to talk to her beloved son under duress and that too from behind a glass. The entire conversation was monitored and held under an atmosphere of duress. The entire exercise lacked any credibility and what should have been a shining example of humanism between two countries often at war, turned out to be a farce.
The few pictures that have emerged after the meeting clearly show that Jadhav is being tortured. He was missing an earlobe and the size of his skull has changed. It should come as no surprise that Pakistan engages in the torture of its captives. For those who think otherwise, the story of Captain Saurabh Kallia, Flt. Lt. Nachiketa and Sqn. Ldr. Ajay Ahuja would convince them to think otherwise. What sort of country engages in torture, breaks international laws, violates the territorial integrity of other countries, murders her own minorities and still have the gall to lie at the United Nations? However this is not a rant against Pakistan (such rant will fill a thousand books and yet barely skim the surface) but this is to lament the fall in the standards in the Indian Politics.
The treatment of Jadhav and the indignation meted out to his family should make every Indian’s blood boil. However, the reactions that have dominated in the immediate aftermath of the visit have proven that the large-hearted nationalist Indian Politics is dead. Gone are the times where all parties would set aside their petty squabbles and joined one another in times of war and peril. Gone are the days, when a fiery poet would stand in the opposition and praise an iron lady for her handling of a war. Gone are the days when nationalism trumped politics and the nation came first for all. It hurts my heart when I hear members of opposition calling the meet a diplomatic failure on the part of the Indian Government and completely ignoring the inhumanity meted out by the Pakistanis. It hurts when I hear that “every nation has its law and it is up to them to decide how they treat their prisoners and their family members”.
I felt helpless and betrayed when a politician from my own home state called Jadhav a terrorist and said that Pakistan is justified in treating him as such. Such words only betray the callousness of the Indian Politicians and embolden the anti-state actors, both in the country and abroad.
Has the Indian Opposition become so shameless and bankrupt? While it is quick to protest on frivolous and insignificant things, it has lost its sense of humanism. The opposition is keen to fight pitched battles over a minor indignation on one of their leaders but is abysmally silent on a slander on the whole nation. Gone are the days when parties differed on key policies and not on faces.
Where are the so-called champions of human rights?
Are not the rights of Jadhav any important?
Where are the paladins of Indo-Pakistan peace talks?
Is it right to call for peace when all overtures are met with a dagger?
Where are the Joan-de-arcs of woman rights?
Was Pakistan justified in forcing a married woman to surrender her “suhag”?
Where are the halberdiers of humanity?
What type of humanity did Pakistan display when forcing a mother to meet her son from behind a glass?
Will the Opposition ever join ranks with the government and the common folk and take the battle to Pakistan where it really needs to be fought? This only, time will tell.