Kulbhushan Jadhav’s wife and mother were made to look like widows when they met him in Islamabad three days ago, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in a scathing attack on Pakistan’s ill-treatment of the family of India’s former Naval officer.The two women’s attire was changed, and Jadhav’s mother, who wears a sari, was forced to wear salwar-kurta. Both were made forced to remove bindis, bangles and mangal sutra, Swaraj said, drawing cries of “shame” from parliamentarians.The minister made an identical four-page statement in both Houses of Parliament on Thursday and described Pakistan’s behaviour as “obnoxious” and said there was a serious and gross violation of human rights.Jadhav, 47, has been sentenced to death for espionage and terror. India has rejected the charges and said he was kidnapped and implicated. Jadhav’s mother told Swaraj that her son asked about his father on seeing her without bindi or mangalsutra.”Avanti Jadhav choked up as she told me the first question her son asked was — how is Baba? He feared something bad had happened… he was reassured only when he saw his wife in the same state,” Swaraj said.When she tried to speak in their mother tongue Marathi across the thick glass wall between them, two Pakistani officials interrupted and the intercom was closed.All Opposition parties unequivocally endorsed and supported Swaraj’s statement condemning the mistreatment of Jadhav’s wife Chetankul and mother Avanti by Pakistan. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) stayed the hanging in May till the case is conclusively heard, on India’s petition against the farce trial.Swaraj said there was an intimidating atmosphere created for them during the meeting. “There are not enough words to condemn the same.” she said, adding that in a departure of agreed understanding “the emotional moment between and mother and son and wife and husband after 22 months was misused by Pakistan as an instrument to further its propaganda.MPs cutting across political divide condemned the ill-treatment. From treasury benches, Swaraj’s impassioned and hard-hitting statement was interluded with slogans of ‘Pakistan Murdabad’.In violation of a clear agreement on not allowing Pakistani media a close access to the mother and the wife, they were subjected to harassment and offensive language was hurled at them by journalists, Swaraj said.The two women told her that Jadhav appeared under considerable stress and was speaking in an atmosphere of coercion, the minister said. They could surmise that “his remarks were tutored by his captors and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities, she said.The minister said the government is “now engaged in seeking a permanent relief, based on stronger arguments, through the legal avenue offered by the ICJ.On Pakistani authorities sending the shoes worn by Jadhav’s wife for forensic testing to examine the alleged presence of “a metallic object”, Swaraj said she took a flight to Dubai first and then went to Pakistan and no alarms were raised then.Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said, “The entire House joins together to appreciate the efforts and also call upon the government to safely secure the release of Shri Kulbhushan Jadhav and also to convey to international community the way Pakistan behaved in a most inhuman manner.”Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said India cannot tolerate the misconduct as it is an insult and humiliation to 130 crore Indians. He urged the government to ensure Jadhav remains safe so long as he is in Pakistan’s custody.”Regardless of political differences, when it comes to the country’s dignity, we will stand together and if another country misbehaves with our mothers and sisters, it will not be tolerated,” Azad said.
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