India on Tuesday accused Pakistan of harassing the family of an alleged Indian spy on death row, saying their meeting was held in an “atmosphere of coercion”.
Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav met his mother and wife in Islamabad on Monday, their first meeting since his arrest in Pakistan last year on charges of espionage and terrorism, allegations India has rejected.
“It appears that Jadhav was under considerable stress and speaking in an atmosphere of coercion,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement shortly after top Indian officials debriefed his family in New Delhi.
The ministry alleged that Jadhav’s conversation during the meeting was “tutored and designed to perpetuate the false narrative of his alleged activities in Pakistan.”
Pakistani officials say Jadhav, who was arrested in the restive southwestern province of Balochistan, confessed to spying for Indian intelligence, and describe him as “the face of Indian terrorism in Pakistan”.
Jadhav was found guilty in a closed trial by a military court and sentenced to death on charges of espionage and terrorism.
India took the case to the International Court of Justice which suspended his execution until it passes final judgement in the case.
Pictures released by the Pakistan government on Monday showed Jadhav and his family speaking through a glass barrier at the foreign ministry in Islamabad.
An Indian diplomat was present during the meeting, which lasted 40 minutes, but was not allowed to talk to the prisoner or listen to the conversation with his family.
New Delhi said Pakistan disrespected the cultural and religious sensibilities of Jadhav’s family, alleging they were asked to change their clothes, and that his wife was ordered to remove her “mangal sutra” — a necklace worn by married Hindu women.
The Indian foreign ministry added that Pakistani authorities did not return the shoes Jadhav’s wife was ordered to remove.
It also accused Islamabad of allowing local journalists to “harass and hector” the Jadhav family, violating an understanding between Islamabad and New Delhi to not allow the media “close” access.
India also raised concerns over Jadhav’s health, although he was seen sitting up in the grainy pictures. Pakistani officials said he was in good health.
New Delhi has maintained that Jadhav is innocent and that he was kidnapped by Pakistani authorities, also accusing Islamabad of violating the Vienna Convention by denying Jadhav consular access.
The nuclear-armed neighbours routinely accuse one another of sending spies into their countries.
Jadhav joined India’s prestigious National Defence Academy in 1987 and was commissioned as an engineer in the Indian Navy in 1991 before reportedly starting a business in Iran.