The repeated rejections by the Nawaz Sharif government in Pakistan on granting consular access to Indian condemned prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former naval officer who is accused of spying, make one wonder whether he is alive at all. Jadhav has supposedly been in the custody of the Pakistan army after he was reportedly tried by a military court and sentenced to death. He has not been seen by any consular official, member of his family or friend right since he was taken into custody. While Pakistan has been claiming that he was arrested from the Balochistan region where he was on a spying mission, India contends that he was kidnapped from inside Iran where he had gone on a business trip. The Pakistanis have not given a shred of evidence showing that he was nabbed in Balochistan. Jadhav was a civilian and the Pakistanis had no business to try him through a military court without he being given access to a lawyer of his choice. Clearly, the Pakistan army is seeking to settle scores with India through this individual who is believed to have been tortured severely as was borne out by a video that the Pakistan authorities had put out some months ago in which there were telltale marks of torture on him.
The recent appeal by Jadhav’s mother to be allowed to see him in Pakistani custody was initially rebuffed by the Pakistanis even though the appeal had been made through External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The Minister commented then that her counterpart in Pakistan, Sartaj Aziz, had not had the basic courtesy to respond to her appeal. Thereafter, Pakistan has said that it is studying the request for Jadhav’s mother to see him and would respond appropriately. However, there is a big question mark over whether Jadhav is alive or he succumbed to acts of torture and coercion. If finally Jadhav’s mother is not allowed to meet him, the suspicion would become stronger that the hapless prisoner has been bumped off. It is indeed incumbent on the Indian government to be satisfied that Jadhav is alive and in fair health.