Kulbhushan Jadhav case: the saga so far
The Kulbhushan Jadhav verdict by the 16-judge bench at the International Court of Justice in The Hague might be non-unanimous. However, majority are expected to look at the merits of the case regarding violations of the international conventions.
India's appeal against former Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav's death sentence in Pakistan on charges of espionage and terrorism will be decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) later today.
The rulings of ICJ are binding but it has no power to enforce them. Nonetheless, the verdict is likely to fuel tensions between the neighbouring countries.
Claims and counterclaims
Pakistan claims that Jadhav is a spy. He was arrested during a military operation in Balochistan, and it is claimed that he was carrying an authentic Indian passport under the cover-name “Hussain Mubarak Patel”. They even released videos where Jadhav confesses that he was working for India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
India insists that Jadhav was not a spy and that he was kidnapped from Iran, where he was running a legitimate trading business after retiring early from military service. India believes that Jadhav probably only confessed after some torturing.
All about the case
- Jadhav was “arrested” on March 3, 2016, and it was only when the Foreign Secretary, Pakistan, raised the matter with the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad, on 25 March 2016, that India was informed of this “arrest”.
- According to Article 36(1)(b) of the Vienna Convention, Pakistan was obliged to inform India of the arrest “without delay”. It did not offer any explanation as to why it took over three weeks to inform the Indian High Commissioner as to the arrest of Jadhav.
- India argues that Pakistan violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a treaty to which both countries signed up, by not providing the opportunity to be in touch with Jadhav.
- Pakistan has steadfastly refused to make public, or even disclose to India, the “charges” or the “evidence” against Jadhav, or even the text of the “judgment” of the purported Military Court that “tried” Jadhav, including that of the purported appellate Court.
- Even after the conclusion of the “trial” by a purported Military Court, consular access to Jadhav was not granted. From the moment of Jadhav’s arrest, through to his conviction, and beyond, the conduct of Pakistan has been marked by opacity.
- Besides, from the nature of the allegations levelled against him, and public statements by high functionaries against him, it is obvious that Jadhav is being held in an extremely hostile environment.
While it remains uncertain whether this case was an act of espionage, here are some Indian spies who have been captured by Pakistan:
A 27-year-old Sarabjit Singh strayed across the border while ploughing his field in August 1970. He was arrested by Pakistan and later sentenced to death on charges of carrying out four bombings in Faisalabad, Multan, and Lahore which killed 14 Pakistani citizens. 43 years later, he was killed by two inmates in Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.
An Indian who insisted he was not a spy during more than three decades on Pakistan’s death row admits he was a secret agent upon his return home. On March 4, 2008, Kashmir Singh, 61, was freed by Pakistan after 35 years at the urging of its human rights minister and crossed the border to India.
Raw agent Ravindra Kaushik was sent to Pakistan in 1975, where he enrolled in Karachi University under the alias of Nabi Ahmad Shakir. After graduation, Kaushik joined the Pakistan Army as a commissioned officer and got promoted to the rank of Major. During 1979-83, he passed on sensitive information to RAW. His run as a spy ended when another Indian spy caught by Pakistani forces blew Kaushik’s cover. He died in Multan Jail after contracting pulmonary tuberculosis in 2001.
It goes the other way round as well.
As many as 33 agents of Pakistani espionage modules were arrested by security forces in 2016 and 2017 (until March, 22), Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir told the Rajya Sabha.
As many as 14 of these arrests were made in Rajasthan, six each in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, four in Delhi, two in Gujarat, and one in Uttar Pradesh.
In 2016, the Minister of State for Home Haribhai Pratibhai Choudhary had told the Rajya Sabha that 46 Pakistan espionage agents were arrested between 2013 and March 9, 2016.
Data for the later years wasn’t available.