By Karan Thapar
The mysterious Mr Jadhav
The case of the Indian sentenced in Pakistan offers more questions than answers
I’m not sure who Kulbhushan Jadhav is or how he came to be in Pakistan but my curiosity has been aroused and I’ve tried to read as widely as I can to find the answers. Alas, all I’ve ended up with is questions. The more I learn the more they multiply.
First, why does Mr. Jadhav have two passports, one in his own name and another in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel? According to the Indian Express, the second passport was originally issued in 2003 and renewed in 2014. The passport numbers are E6934766 and L9630722. When asked, the MEA Spokesperson would only say India needs access to Mr. Jadhav before he can answer. But why not check the records attached to the passport numbers? Surely they would tell a story?
The Times of India claims that since 2007 Mr. Jadhav has rented a Bombay flat owned by his mother, Avanti, in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel. Why would he use an alias to rent his own mother’s flat?
Perhaps Mr. Jadhav changed his name after converting to Islam? But then why did he deliberately retain a valid passport in his old name? Indeed why did the government let him unless he deceived them?
Second, the government claims Mr. Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran and forcibly brought to Balochistan. A former German Ambassador to Pakistan, Gunter Mulack, at least initially suggested this was true. But has the government pursued the matter with Mr. Mulack? If it has that hasn’t been reported nor what he revealed.
However, we did pursue the matter with Iran but, as the MEA Spokesperson admitted, they don’t seem to have responded or, perhaps, even conducted an investigation yet we seem to have accepted that. Odd, wouldn’t you say?
If Pakistan did abduct Mr. Jadhav don’t we need to ask why? Doesn’t that raise the question what was so special about him that made them do this? After all, there are 4,000 Indians in Iran and no one else has been abducted.
Third, both the Indian Express and Asian Age suggest Mr. Jadhav has links with the Pakistani drug baron Uzair Baloch. Did he play dirty with him and get caught in a revenge trap set by the drug mafia? Given that Mr. Jadhav was arrested a month after Uzair Baloch this could be part of the explanation.
Finally, the Indian Express has reported that between 2010 and 2012 Mr. Jadhav made three separate attempts to join R&AW. The paper suggests he also tried to join the Technical Services Division. What more do we know about this? Even if the media doesn’t surely the government does?
A. S. Dulat, a distinguished former chief of R&AW, has unhesitatingly said Mr. Jadhav could be a spy. As he put it, if he was the government would hardly admit it.
Just a few days before Mr. Jadhav’s sudden conviction and death sentence the Pakistani media claimed a retired Pakistani army officer, Lt. Col. Muhammad Habib Zahir, had gone missing in Lumbini, close to the Indian border. The Pakistani media is convinced he’s been trapped by R&AW. Was Mr. Jadhav convicted and sentenced to preempt India claiming it had caught a Pakistani spy? And now is an exchange of ‘spies’ possible?
I’m not sure who will answer these questions and perhaps it would not be proper for the government to do so but whilst they hang in the air the mystery surrounding Mr. Jadhav will only grow.