New Delhi/Islamabad, Apr 10: A Pakistani Military Court on Monday sentenced Kulbhushan Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, who was arrested on March 3 last year in Balochistan for his alleged involvement in espionage and spying against Paksitan as an agent of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
Pakistan said on Monday that a military court has sentenced to death former Indian navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav for allegedly spying and stoking violence in Balochistan, drawing an angry response from New Delhi which described it as “premeditated murder” if carried out.
India summoned the Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit and handed over a demarche describing the court proceedings as “farcical” and also put on hold the release of several Pakistani prisoners, scheduled for Wednesday.
Jadhav was arrested on March 3 last year in Balochistan. He was accused of being a Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agent who was fuelling the Baloch separatist movement and attempting to sabotage the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. India has denied the charges.
A statement by the Pakistani military’s publicity wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said Jadhav was declared guilty by an army court of waging war against the country.
“The spy was tried through field general court martial under the Pakistan army act and awarded the death sentence. Today chief of army staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa confirmed his death sentence awarded by FGCM,” the ISPR said.
“He confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi.”
Relations between the neighbours are at their lowest in several years following a string of militants on defence installations in India, which New Delhi blames on Pakistan-based groups.
Shortly after the Pakistan army statement, Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar summoned Pak High Commissioner Abdul Basit – whose successor was incidentally named on Monday – and handed over the demarche.
“If this sentence (is) against an Indian citizen, awarded without observing basic norms of law and justice, is carried out, the government and people of India will regard it as a case of premeditated murder,” the demarche said.
“The proceedings that have led to the sentence against Jadhav are farcical in the absence of any credible evidence against him. It is significant that our high commission was not even informed that Jadhav was being brought to trial.”
Last December, Pakistan’s foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz told the upper house of Parliament that the “dossier on Jadhav contained mere statements” and didn’t have any conclusive evidence. Hours later, Pakistan denied the statement.
Pakistan Army had also released a “confessional video” of Jadhav who is purportedly heard saying that he was serving the Indian navy. In the video, Jadhav allegedly says he arrived in Iran in 2003 and started a small business in Chahbahar.
Islamabad also repeatedly refused India’s request for access to Jadhav, who allegedly held an Iranian residency permit and a passport in the name of Hussain Mubarak Patel. The place of birth given in this passport was apparently Sangli, Maharashtra.
Pakistan has repeatedly accused India of fomenting unrest in Balochistan, the country’s largest province, but it has never offered any evidence to back up its claims. India last year launched a new offensive by highlighting Pakistan’s human rights abuses in Balochistan.
Though several suspected Pakistani spies were arrested in India over the years, none had been sentenced to death.
In 1999, Pakistan had hanged an Indian, Sheikh Shamim, also on charges of spying.
In 2013, another Indian national, Sarabjit Singh, who was sentenced to death for spying in Pakistan, was killed in jail after being attacked by fellow inmates. Singh was on death row for 16 years. However, previous cases have largely gone through civilian courts.
Months later, a Pakistani prisoner was killed by inmates in the Jammu jail.
(With additional inputs from agencies)