Who is Kulbhushan Jadhav? All you need to know about the alleged Indian 'spy'

A Paksitani military court sentenced Kulbhushan Jadhav to death on charges of spying. Here's all you need to know about the former Indian naval officer, and all that's been said about the case so far.

FP Staff May 18, 2017 08:19:51 IST

Editor's note: This article was originally published on 11 April, 2017. It is being republished in light of the fact that the International Court of Justice will be announcing its verdict on the Kulbhushan Jadhav case at 3.30 pm IST on Thursday.

The International Court of Justice will pronounce its judgement on the death sentence of Kulbhushan Jadhav, handed out by a Pakistani military court on Thursday, just 10 days after India approached it. India had approached ICJ demanding immediate suspension of the death sentence given to the former Indian Navy officer after Pakistan accused him of being an Indian spy.

Jadhav was convicted of conducting "subversive activities" for the Indian government in Pakistan and has been sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on 10 April. Pakistani authorities had reportedly arrested Jadhav in what they termed as a counter intelligence operation in Mashkal, Balochistan on 3 March, 2016. He has remained in Pakistan's custody ever since.

The decision has come at a time when the relations between the two neighbours are running through a particularly rough patch, with the two nations alleging sabotage and infiltration bids on each other. Here is all that we know about Jadhav so far.

Who is Kulbhushan Jadhav All you need to know about the alleged Indian spy

Kulbhushan Jadhav in a file image. News18

The curious case of Kulbhushan Jadhav has seen many twists and turns within a short span of one year since his arrest. While the Pakistani side has repeatedly alleged that Jadhav is a Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) "spy" in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province, India had categorically denied Islamabad's charges.

According to a Firstpost report, Jadhav owned three properties under the alias Mubarak Patel in Mumbai. According to the report, he  was learnt to be residing on Delisle Road for a while as well. He also had a house in Powai, but that was shut for the last one year, ever since Jadhav was jailed in Pakistan.

Though India has conceded right from the start that Jadhav was indeed an Indian national and a retired naval officer. The Indian side claims that Jadhav ran a legitimate business from Iran, and might have inadvertently crossed over to Paksitan. And that the Pakistani authorities had harassed him and charged him with spying.

However, according to the press statement put out by Inter–Services Public Relations (ISPR) — the media wing of Paksitani security forces — Pakistan has claimed that Jadhav was involved in coordinating and organising "espionage activities" with an intent to destabilise and wage a war against Pakistan, as reported by a Pakistani news website The Nation

Another curious aspect of the case has been an alleged confessional video by Jadhav, widely circulated in the Pakistani media, wherein he had "confessed to his sabotage activities" and detailed his "networks with Indian spy agency RAW". Islamabad, in the presser has also claimed that it was on the basis of this confessional video, and "irrefutable evidence" that he was convicted and sentenced to death. The video, which was quoted by several media organisation, including The New York Times, is no longer available on YouTube.

"He confessed before a magistrate and the court that he was tasked by RAW to plan, coordinate and organise espionage, sabotage activities aiming to destabilise and wage war against Pakistan by impeding the efforts of law enforcement agencies for restoring peace in Balochistan and Karachi," the ISPR said.

According to a transcript of this alleged confession as reported in DawnJadhav had claimed to be an "active navy officer" and conceded that his "purpose was to hold meetings with Baloch insurgents and carry out activities with their collaboration." The footage apparently also shows him saying that he had set up a small business in Chabahar in Iran which facilitated him to achieve undetected existence and visits to Karachi in 2003 and 2004.

“These activities have been of criminal nature, leading to killing of or maiming of Pakistani citizens. I realised during this process that RAW is involved in some activities related to the Baloch liberation movement within Pakistan and the region around it," the so called confession further reads.

However, India has rejected the validity of the video and claimed that it was tutored or recorded under immense mental and physical pressure.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has been using this arrest as a vindication to its stand on alleged Indian interference in Pakistan's Balochistan province.

However, the story so far has been hazy and ridden with loopholes at best.

The Dawn report from the time of Jadhav's arrest — quoted earlier — states that Jadhav was "caught red-handed while infiltrating into Pakistan from the Saravan border area of Balochistan with Iran." Another report in the news website said that Jadhav was transporting "anti-state elements" from Pakistan to New Delhi for training by RAW.

Then, a report in Hindustan Times cast another shadow on the confessional video. The newspaper article argued that the video multiple quick edits and the audio appears to go out of sync from time to time, which indicates it was likely to have been shot under duress. Another report in India Todaystates that the Indian intelligence services have reasons to doubt the Pakistani narrative due to several inconsistencies in the video. For instance, Jadhav's facial expressions, at many instances, do not match to what is being said. The audio too is poorly spliced. The article further said that Indian agencies believe that Jadhav may have been abducted by an extremist group named Jaishul Adi, rather than being caught during any military operation.

Then, another report in NDTV states that government sources say there is no proof that could back Pakistan army's claim that he was arrested from Balochistan.

Further doubts were raised as Pakistani adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that they did not have sufficient evidence against Jadhav and the facts as presented by security agencies was inconclusive. 

However, Aziz later retracted his statement when it was widely picked up by Indian media. "It has never been said that there was any lack of evidence against Jadhav," Aziz said.

"His goal was to disrupt development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), with Gwadar port as a special target," Pakistan Army chief Bajwa had said, adding, "This is nothing short of state-sponsored terrorism... There can be no clearer evidence of Indian interference in Pakistan."

The Indian government has, although categorically denied these allegations, it has said it was not in a position to clarify the circumstances in which Jadhav reached Pakistan as despite repeated attempts Pakistan had denied India consular access.

"Circumstances of his presence in Pakistan remain unclear, particularly because we have not been provided consular access despite our repeated requests," IANS quoted a government source as saying.

India had also requested for Jadhav's extradition but in March this year, Aziz told the country’s Upper House that Islamabad won’t extradite Jadhav.

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