Nothing was more soul destroying for a billion plus Indians than the cold and clinical photograph we saw on Monday of naval officer and death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav meeting his mother and wife under Pakistan supervision.
It was, at best, an autocratic and arrogant display of contempt and we should see it that way. This Pakistan regime has no affection for India. What kind of a meeting was it? A thick glass window disallowing even the faintest of touches and conversation through a telephone. Nothing warm or intimate about that and come to think about it, pretty much a metaphor for the relationship between the two countries.
The idea that in some way this degree of separation is the protocol is nonsense. What is most surprising is that the Indian people are not incensed by this mockery of a meeting. We seem to accept that some concession is better than no concession and suddenly, the cards are held and being dealt by Pakistan, which is very far from the days of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling which gave favoured India and censured Islamabad.
What is it about us as a people that our indignation has such a short life? We are ready to leap up and demonstrate our outrage over trivial issues ranging from banning movies, finding offence in stray remarks by celebrities, getting into a tizzy about a beauty contest or the way someone has dressed, and yet a man is being treated so unfairly and we are doing nothing about it.
Jadhav symbolises India and the need to save him from the manufactured justice of a kangaroo military court is imperative. We started off well when we went to the ICJ and then we sort of petered out.
The government must let Pakistan know in no uncertain terms what the fallout will be if the death sentence is carried out. Financially, militarily, in trade, and across the board relations. Make it an issue, not a sidebar.
This invitation to Jadhav's wife and mother is a travesty. And the way it has gone down is made only worse by the distant presence of a consular officer who has still not been allowed to meet Jadhav. Even here he was reduced to a mere escort who was out of earshot. It was a hurtful charade and it is incumbent upon us to send the message to Jadhav that the country is behind him, more so after this humiliating demonstration.
He is so very alone and must now feel even more deserted. We need to give him not just moral support, but the support of our country. For all intents and purposes, this so-called humanitarian gesture could have been less painful if it had been a Skype or WhatsApp call. What great calamity would have occurred if Kulbhushan had been allowed to have contact with his wife and his mother?
All of us have sort of resigned ourselves to a que sera sera scenario. Our politicians are silent, the public is indifferent, the media is stuck in neutral and no one wants to understand that Islamabad is thumbing its nose at us. Where are these NGOs and advocacy groups that leap out of the woodwork to ban some scene in a film or return awards or war over placing statues? Do all our leaders have feet of straw that they cannot say out loud that Indian lives matter? There is a time to tarry and a time to tweet.
It is necessary to bring the Jadhav issue to the forefront and make it a predicate to other bilateral issues. Jadhav represents India and the chances that he is going to be paraded about and executed one bleak day have not reduced after this meeting.
On the contrary, there is something sinister about the statement from the Foreign Office spokesman Mohammed Faisal that this is not the final meeting. Whichever way you hack it, it sounds ominous. Even to articulate this sentiment at this juncture means it could have been a farewell meet… or that the next meeting will be so… and that, by inference, the decision to carry out the capital punishment has already been made.
It will be a sad day for India if we allow this to happen. On the diplomatic highway there are milestones, some real and some symbolic. Often, the latter assumes a certain weightage and become paramount. The Jadhav case is one of these milestones. If we weakly sit back and allow the man to be pilloried and do nothing about it by way of sanctions and demands we are going to lose this confrontation on several fronts and allow the setting of an ugly precedent.
We have the power to put things to right. Prisoners have been exchanged before. Deals have been made and concessions granted to protect our citizens. On the flip side of reasonable concessions there are also clear warnings of the repercussions that might follow. We need to reiterate these.
India does not want to wake up one morning and discover that the meeting of the Jadhav family behind a wall of glass was the final one. Forget condemnation in the aftermath. Show our wrath now and stand by this singular Indian life.
Updated Date: Dec 27, 2017 07:18:12 IST