India furious over Pakistan death sentence to 'spy'

India furious over Pakistan death sentence to 'spy'

In this March 29, 2016 photo, journalists watch a video purporting to show the confession of accused Indian spy and naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav. (AP photo)

NEW DELHI – Any move to execute an Indian naval officer convicted by a Pakistani court-martial of spying would be “premeditated murder”, New Delhi warned Islamabad on Monday.

“If this sentence 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 foreign ministry said in a statement after Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Pakistan had earlier said it will execute an Indian who allegedly confessed to spying for Indian intelligence, the powerful military said Monday.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs described the proceedings leading to the sentence as “farcical” and said no credible evidence had been presented against Jadhav.

In a statement, India also said that Jadhav had been kidnapped in Iran and “his subsequent presence in Pakistan has never been explained credibly”. It said he had been denied access to Indian consular officials despite repeated requests.

A Pakistani military court on Monday sentenced an Indian accused of espionage to death, ratcheting up long-standing tensions between the nuclear-armed states.

Pakistani authorities say Kulbushan Sudhir Jadhav, a naval officer, was arrested in March 2016 in the turbulent province of Baluchistan, which has seen a long-running conflict between Pakistani security forces and a militant separatist movement.

The Pakistani military said in a statement he had confessed to being tasked by India’s intelligence service with planning, coordinating and organising espionage and sabotage activities in Baluchistan “aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan”.

The sentence was passed by a Field General Court Martial and confirmed by the powerful army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

India rejected Pakistan’s account of Jadhav’s activities and summoned Pakistan’s high commissioner.

Pakistani media were describing Jadhav as a RAW agent within days of his arrest in March 2016. At the time the military also released a video showing Jadhav confessing to working in Pakistan for years, though it was unclear if it had been filmed under duress.

In 2013 an Indian sentenced to death for spying in Pakistan was killed in jail after being attacked by fellow inmates. Sarabjit Singh had been on death row for 16 years.

In 1999 another Indian, Sheikh Shamim, was hanged in a Pakistani jail almost ten years after he was caught “red-handed” near the border and arrested on charges of spying.

Previous cases have largely gone through civilian courts.

Analyst Hassan Askari said the decision to execute Jadhav would “further increase tension between the two countries”.

“The military has given a severe punishment which is according to Pakistani law,” he said.

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