India demands Pakistan release accused ‘spy’ after world court ruling

Indian officials said the relatives of the alleged spy reported that he looked as if he has been tortured. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 July 2019

India demands Pakistan release accused ‘spy’ after world court ruling

  • Kulbhushan Jadhav is a former navy officer
  • ICJ ruled that Pakistan review his death sentence and give him proper representation

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday demanded that Pakistan release an alleged spy after the International Court of Justice called for a review of a death sentence against him.

The arch-rivals each declared victory after the world court ruling made late Wednesday. But with 49-year-old Kulbhushan Jadhav still held in secret, his case risked setting off new tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said Jadhav, a former navy officer, “is in the illegal custody of Pakistan under fabricated charges” as he welcomed the court ruling.

“Yesterday’s judgment is not only a vindication of India and Mr.Jadhav but for all those who believe in the rule of law and the sanctity of international conventions,” the minister added.

Jaishankar insisted that Jadhav “is innocent of the charges levelled against him” and had been forced to confess without access to a lawyer.

“We once again call upon Pakistan to release and repatriate him forthwith.”

The ICJ said Pakistan must give India consular access to the prisoner, give Jadhav proper representation and review the death sentence. But it rejected India’s demand that Jadhav be freed.

Pakistan said Jadhav was detained in its southwestern province of Baluchistan in March 2016.

It released a “confession” video in which Jadhav said he worked for Indian intelligence. A military court sentenced him to death in 2017.

According to Indian officials, Jadhav retired from the navy in 2001 and was running a “logistics” business in the Iranian port of Chabahar.

India insisted he was taken captive in Iran before being moved to Pakistan and then forced to confess.

It started an ICJ case in 2017. Throughout the hearings, Jadhav has been kept under strict lock and key in Pakistan.

Apart the video in which he said he graduated from India’s premier defense academy and began to help Indian intelligence in 2001, the only sighting of Jadhav was when his mother and wife saw him for 40 minutes on December 25, 2017.

Indian officials say relatives reported that he appeared to have been tortured.

Relations between the neighbors frequently boil over. They have fought three wars since independence in 1947 and staged air battles on their border in February.

New Delhi frequently says there can be no improvement in relations until its neighbor takes action to rein in militant attacks in India.

Keeping up the rivalry, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said late Wednesday that “truth and justice have prevailed” with the ruling.

His Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan hit back through his Twitter account.

“Appreciate ICJ’s decision not to acquit, release and return Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav to India,” Khan said.

“He is guilty of crimes against the people of Pakistan. Pakistan shall proceed further as per law,” Khan added.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said the incident is a “clear case of Indian state terrorism.”

Media in the two countries also claimed victory in the case.

“India Wins in World Court,” said a Mail Today headline. “Justice in International Court,” declared The Indian Express.

“Pakistan vindicated” ran a banner front-page headline in Pakistan’s Express Tribune.


10,000 homeless after fire razes Bangladesh slum

Updated 25 min 7 sec ago

10,000 homeless after fire razes Bangladesh slum

  • The fire broke out at in Dhaka’s Mirpur neighborhood late on Friday and razed around 2,000 mostly tin shacks
  • Experts say fires are frequent in Dhaka due to lax safety measures

DHAKA: At least 10,000 people are homeless after a massive fire swept through a crowded slum in the Bangladesh capital and destroyed thousands of shanties, officials said Sunday.
The fire broke out at in Dhaka’s Mirpur neighborhood late on Friday and razed around 2,000 mostly tin shacks, fire services official Ershad Hossain said.
“I could not salvage a single thing. I don’t know what will I do,” 58-year-old Abdul Hamid, who ran a tea stall inside the slum, said as he broke down in tears.
Authorities eventually got the blaze under control and no-one was killed, although several people had minor injuries, firefighters said.
Many residents — largely low-income garment factory workers — were not in the slum as they had left their homes to celebrate the Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday with their families.
“Otherwise, the damage would have been bigger,” local police chief Golam Rabbani said.
Around 10,000 people have taken refuge in crammed camps at nearby schools closed for the weeklong holiday, according to Hossain.
“We are providing them with food, water, mobile toilets, and electricity supply,” municipal official Shafiul Azam said, adding that authorities were trying to find permanent accommodation.
Some families have erected tarpaulins to shelter them from bouts of rain during the monsoon season, but the wet conditions have turned the fields muddy.
Experts say fires are frequent in Dhaka due to lax safety measures.
At least 100 people have been killed so far this year in building fires across the densely populated metropolitan city.
In 2012, a fire swept through a nine-story garment factory near Dhaka killing 111 workers. An investigation found it was caused by sabotage and that managers at the plant had prevented victims from escaping.
A 2010 fire in Nimtoli, one of the most densely populated districts of the capital, killed 123 people.