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Above: Kulbhushan Jadhav

Finally, Indian prisoner in Pakistan, Kulbhushan Jadhav, got to meet his mother and his wife and they spoke across a glass panel over a telephone. While this has been criticised in Indian social media – some argued what security breach would have happened had Jadhav been allowed to just hug his mother and wife – this probably is accepted international norm for interaction between a death row inmate and his/her relatives.

While the Indian Deputy High Commissioner J P Singh, who had accompanied them, was still not allowed access to Jadhav – an access that Pakistan has consistently denied from the beginning despite several Indian appeals – Jadhav spoke to his wife and mother. Jadhav asked after their health and his father’s health and hoped his father was there too.

Jadhav who, as per Indian claims, was an independent businessman operating in Iran following his stint with the Indian Navy, was put through general court marshal by the Pakistani army which arrested him on March 3, 2016 during a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan. This is a narrative that the Pakistani army has maintained, though Indian has maintained that Jadhav was kidnapped by a section of the Taliban in Iran and sold to the Pakistani army.

The Pakistani army has charged Jadhav with terrorism and spying for India’s intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

While India maintains that he is a former Navy man, the Pakistani government maintains that he is a serving commander in the Indian Navy.

He was sentenced to death in a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) on April 10, 2017, but the International Court of Justice stayed the hanging, pending the final judgement on the case on May 18, 2017. The issue is hanging in the balance.

This meeting is the first allowed by the Pakistani authorities. It was a tearful 40-minute meeting, sources have been quoted in the media as saying.

Both visitors went through body search and even their hairclips were removed. The main part of the talking was by his mother Avanti, while his wife Chetna spoke much less. The authorities had even kept a box of tissues there.

The wife and mother will be at Delhi for a de-briefing before they return home.

—India Legal Bureau

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