There are rules and regulations that have to be followed when a "convict" meets his family. There are rules in prison manuals acceptable across the globe and some unique to certain countries. Every state should respect the procedures of another country. I begin with this so there is clarity on the treatment meted out to Kulbhushan Jadhav’s family when they were in Islamabad to meet the former Indian naval officer.
While Pakistan called it a “humanitarian” act, there were many issues with the way the whole event played out. It seemed like there was a concerted effort to humiliate and intimidate the family to set the stage for an outcome acceptable to Pakistan.
Kulbhushan Jadhav’s mother (centre) and wife at the Pakistan foreign ministry on December 25. (Credit: Reuters photo)
However, India’s response to the entire episode also smacked of appealing to a certain section within the country. Why else would India take offence to a “mangalsutra” being removed. Every metal piece on a person is removed even in India before they enter a prison or are made to meet a “high-value” captive which is what Jadhav is to Pakistan.
The bindi and mangalsutra were not more important than the fact that they were “strip-searched” and were asked to change their attires. Raveesh Kumar had reacted to changing of clothes saying, "that was not warranted by security".
#WATCH MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar on meeting of #KulbhushanJadhav's mother and wife with Jadhav in Islamabad pic.twitter.com/O6HkKoc7WK— ANI (@ANI) December 26, 2017
What was most disturbing was that the conduct of the meeting and its aftermath was clearly an attempt to “bolster a false and unsubstantiated narrative” by Pakistan. It all began when the understanding reached between India and Pakistan was flouted and in an unscrupulous manner Pakistan made the family wait outside the foreign office so they could be heckled by the so-called Pakistani press. Were they really press persons or people planted by the establishment is a question that needs to be raised?
Another instance of Pakistan’s nefarious game was that the mother was not allowed to speak in her mother tongue, Marathi, with Jadhav. She was not comfortable speaking in Hindi or English, but was “forced” to do so. The lady officer sitting behind her turned off the intercom every time the Avanti Jadhav spoke in Marathi. This was absolutely unwarranted. No country forces someone to use a particular language as medium of communication. The onus lies on the hosting state to find an interpreter for their own benefit. Could Pakistan not even afford an interpreter?
#BreakingSources to @IndiaToday:They regulated the conversation. No conversation in Marathi was allowed. The lady officer sitting behind #KulbhushanJadhav's mother turned off the intercom everytime the mother spoke in Marathi. https://t.co/FTj3ZGe8lP— Geeta Mohan (@Geeta_Mohan) December 26, 2017
How was it an “act of humanity” if the mother was not able to speak to her son properly, let alone holding him.
Speaking of holding physical contact with a captive (convict according to Pakistan) is not allowed in prison manuals in many countries. A glass divide is used even in India. This kind of infrastructural set-up should have been expected for the meeting with Jadhav, an alleged spy according to Pakistan.
The other violation by Pakistan was taking the family to the meeting room without the knowledge of the Indian deputy high commissioner, JP Singh. There was a clear understanding that he would accompany them at all times. But according to the MEA, the "deputy high commissioner was initially separated from family members who were taken to the meeting without informing him. The meeting was started without his presence and he could join only after pressing the matter with concerned officials". Keeping him in a separate partition shouldn’t have been a problem because he could see them and this was not “consular access” that was accorded to Jadhav.
Finally, her shoes were not returned to the wife. India, rightly so, has forewarned of any “mischievous intent” knowing Pakistan just too well. Why would India try such a stunt when they knew the kind of check and scrutiny they would be put through.
Pakistan’s "dirty tricks" department is already at work here. But, if anything this entire episode not only shows Pakistan in poor light, but also highlights the lack of professionalism, efficiency and sophistication required to corner an “enemy” state.