Cutting across party lines, Parliament on Tuesday united against Pakistan for sentencing former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav to death and vowed that India would “go out of its way” to save him.
Warning Pakistan that India would treat his execution as “pre-meditated murder”, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said in Rajya Sabha that the charges against Mr Jadhav, who was doing business in Iran and was kidnapped and taken to Pakistan, were “concocted” and the trial against him was “farcical”, leading to an “indefensible verdict”.
Ms Swaraj thundered: “Let me state clearly that the government and the people of this country would view very seriously the possibility that an innocent Indian citizen was facing the death sentence in Pakistan without due process and in violation of basic norms of law, justice and international relations”.
“Kulbhushan Jadhav is not just a son of his parents but also a son of this country, and to save him (if required) we will appeal in the Supreme Court (of Pakistan) and provide the best lawyers,” she added.
Home minister Rajnath Singh, condemning Pakistan court’s verdict, said the “government will do everything possible to get justice for Jadhav”. “Jadhav will get justice,” Mr Singh reiterated.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, the home minister said, “All norms of law and justice were ignored by Pakistan”. He said that “Pakistan had briefed the media (that) Mr Jadhav was holding a valid Indian passport”, and wondered “why would a spy carry a valid passport”, adding, this “exposes Pakistan’s action and intention”.
There was unanimity among members in both Houses and all parties came together to condemn the development and pressed the government to take every step to help him.
In fact, earlier in the day there were reports that in a rare show of unity by political rivals, Ms Swaraj had asked Congress MP Shashi Tharoor to draft a resolution on the issue that would be adopted by both the Houses. By late evening, however, confusion prevailed and politics had creeped in.
Hours after the news broke that Mr Tharoor had accepted Ms Swaraj’s “request” after taking permission from the Congress high command to draft the resolution, Ms Swaraj rubbished the reports and tweeted, “There is no dearth of talent in my ministry. I have the assistance of very able secretaries.”
She also posted the news report claiming that Mr Tharoor had been asked by her to draft the resolution. The report had stated that “former minister of state for foreign affairs, will help the government draft the ‘Statement of Solidarity’ on the issue of Kulbhushan Jadhav. This statement will be adopted by both Houses of Parliament.”
Earlier, speaking in the Lok Sabha, Mr Tharoor hoped “India was mounting adequate international pressure on Pakistan”. Targeting Pakistan for “violating the Geneva convention,” he described Pakistan’s move to issue a death sentence against the retired Indian officer as an “assault on India, an assault on international laws and an assault on international conventions”. “Thirteen times this gentleman was denied consular access, which is a basic right. The Geneva conventions have been violated by Pakistan,” he said.
The leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, however, had used the occasion to take a jab at the government.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending the wedding of Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s daughter in Lahore, Mr Kharge quipped: “Without an invitation, you can attend a marriage, but you cannot meet him (Sharif) or talk to him on the issue.”
At this juncture Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said since everyone was “equally concerned” about Mr Jadhav’s fate, “there shou-ld be no spat on the issue”.
Death sentence was pronounced on Mr Jadhav by a Pakistani military court after he was found guilty of spying.