Amid disruptions and adjournments, parties across the board got together in Lok Sabha during zero hour Wednesday to condemn Pakistan for the way it treated Kulbhushan Jadhav’s mother and wife when they met him in jail. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she would make a statement Thursday. Meanwhile, the Congress started gearing up to target the government over the Jadhav issue after having forced it to clarify on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech about former PM Manmohan Singh. “The Jadhav issue is the first priority for the Congress,” Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told The Indian Express.
Slogan-shouting by Congress and TRS members — over different issues — subsided for a while when Arvind Sawant (Shiv Sena) flagged the Jadhav family meeting. India should not be silent, he said, declaring that “the meaning of Pakistan is not trust; the meaning of Pakistan is a betrayal”. Addressing Sushma, he said: “Don’t rest till Jadhav is back.”
Sawant said Pakistan did allow Jadhav’s family to meet him due to pressure from the International Court of Justice, but no words were enough for condemning Pakistan for the way it treated them. He told the Speaker: “Being a woman and a mother, you know… the woman was told to remove her bindi, her mangalsutra and bangles. Suspicion was raised about her shoes too.” He said a glass wall was erected when they were allowed to meet. “A mother was not allowed to meet her son, a wife was not allowed to meet her husband,” he said.
Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy said removing a Hindu woman’s “mangalsutra and shoes was a very cheap act, which should be condemned”. “Pakistan is hypocritical. It has lied. It has humiliated our people,” Roy said. Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge told the government: “Set an example by getting Jadhav back. We are with you… We condemn the ill-treatment of Jadhav’s mother and wife by Pakistan.” AIADMK’s M Thambidurai said asking a woman to remove her mangalsutra was an insult to the country. He too pledged his party’s support to the minister on whatever steps she took on the matter.
Azad told reporters in Parliament: “The government should clarify, how are they going to take up the Jadhav issue with Pakistan? What action are they going to take to convey to Pakistan the concerns of Indians?” He said the Congress had agreed to resolve the impasse over the Prime Minister’s statement because it wanted to raise other issues. “And one of the most important issues which we would like to discuss Thursday is that of Kulbhushan Jadav. The way his wife and mother were harassed and treated by the Pakistani government, it is something which we simply should not tolerate as Indians,” he said.
“We may be in Opposition but we are Indians first… We will cooperate with the government… We expect that he should get justice. Pakistan had to succumb to international pressure… There was pressure from the Indian government side Jadhav should be given consular access. He should be allowed to meet his family members, but we did not expect that his family members — mother and wife — will be separated by a glass wall. We could never think they would not be allowed to meet, hug and talk face to face…What was the purpose? And the way his mother and wife were harassed and insulted, the mangalsutra and the bindis were taken off, the shoes were taken off. This is not an insult to the mother and wife of Jadhav but this is an insult to India. This is an insult to 1.3 billion Indian people irrespective of religion and caste,” he said. Azad said the Jadhav issue was one of the important reasons that the Congress did not want the Parliament impasse to continue.