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Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: India on Thursday said Pakistan did not provide "unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional" consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav in violation of a verdict by an international tribunal, and that the Indian death row convict was "visibly under stress".

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the two Indian officials from the Indian High Commission who were allowed to meet Jadhav left the meeting after lodging a protest as the consular access provided by Pakistan was "neither meaningful nor credible".

"Pakistani officials with an intimidating demeanour were present in close proximity of Jadhav and consular officers despite the protests of the Indian side. It was also evident from a camera that was visible that the conversation with Jadhav was being recorded," Srivastava said in a statement.

Pakistan provided the second consular access to Jadhav after holding extensive discussions with India.

"Jadhav himself was visibly under stress and indicated that clearly to the consular officers. The arrangements did not permit a free conversation between them. The consular officers could not engage Jadhav on his legal rights and were prevented from obtaining his written consent for arranging his legal representation," the MEA spokesperson said.

Earlier this month, Pakistan said Jadhav refused to file an appeal in the Islamabad High Court against his conviction despite Pakistan offering the option to him. India termed the claim by Pakistan as "farce" and that he was "coerced" to forego his rights.

"The consular officers were not given unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional access to Jadhav," Srivastava said.

"In the light of these circumstances, the Indian consular officers came to the conclusion that the consular access being offered by Pakistan was neither meaningful nor credible. After lodging a protest, they left the venue," he said.

Jadhav, a 50-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of "espionage and terrorism" in April 2017. Weeks later, India approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Pakistan for denial of consular access to Jadhav and challenging the death sentence.

The Hague-based ICJ ruled in July last year that Pakistan must undertake an "effective review and reconsideration" of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav and also to grant consular access to India without further delay.

"It is clear that Pakistan's approach to this matter continues to be obstructive and insincere. It has not only violated its assurance to the ICJ to fully implement the 2019 judgement, but also failed to act in accordance with its own ordinance," Srivastava said.

He said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has apprised the family of Jadhav about Thursday's developments.

"We reiterate our commitment to ensure the safe return of Jadhav to India and will decide on a future course of action in the light of the events today," the MEA spokesperson said.

He said the consular access to Jadhav is of utmost importance as it is the basis for a process of effective review and reconsideration ordered by the ICJ in the case.

"It is already evident that Jadhav has been intimidated repeatedly in the past, including in being made to express his alleged disinclination to seek a review," he said.

Srivastava said India recently requested Pakistani for an unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access to Jadhav and that it was asked to ensure that the meeting is held in an atmosphere free from fear of retribution and without the presence of any Pakistani officials.

Pakistan was also requested to not record carry out video or audio recording of the meeting, he added.

"We were assured that this consular access would be unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional. On the basis of this assurance by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, two consular officers of the High Commission proceeded to the meeting with Jadhav," he said.

"Regrettably however, neither the environment nor the arrangements of the meeting were in accordance with the assurances of Pakistan," he added.

In May 2020, Pakistan passed an ordinance, ostensibly to comply with the order of the ICJ.

"It inter-alia envisaged the Consular Officer of the High Commission of India filing a petition before a High Court for the relevant review and reconsideration," said Srivastava.


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