Friends, neighbours relieved to see Jadhav ‘looking fine’

Mumbai, Dec 25 (IANS) Friends, neighbours and well-wishers of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav, on death row in Pakistan for alleged spying, said they were relieved to see him “looking fit and fine” during his interaction with his family in Islamabad on Monday.

Friends and neighbours of Jadhav’s home in Andheri east, also said that their 21-month-long campaign to secure his release and return home would continue with renewed vigour.

“We are happy to learn he is mentally sound and in good physical health. Jadhav’s wife and mother greeted the people of Pakistan with a ‘namaste’, this was very good courtesy displayed by them,” a friend Tulsidas Pawar told mediapersons.

“We have decided to continue the campaign for his release, and until he is brought back to India it will continue. We are fully with the Jadhav family in their hour of crisis,” said a neighbour Sachin Kale.

The friends and neighbours had been keenly following on television Monday’s meeting between Jadhav, his mother Avanti and wife Chetankul who were allowed to interact with him from behind a glass partition, without physical contact, at the Pakistan Foreign Office in Islamabad in the afternoon.

A Mumbai-based former naval officer-turned-businessman, Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016 in Balochistan, as Pakistan claims, and after a court-martial, was awarded the death penalty by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism.

After persistent demands by the Indian government and Jadhav’s family members since the past 21 months, Islamabad finally permitted Monday’s meeting.

The meeting, described by India’s neighbour as “purely on humanitarian grounds”, coincided with the 141st birth anniversary of Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

Present at the 40-minute meeting besides the two women relatives was Indian Deputy High Commissioner in Islamabad, J.P. Singh, but there was no interaction with the media.

However, after the meeting, the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammed Faisal briefed the global media and indicated that Jadhav may be permitted consular access.

Though Singh was present at the meeting, he was at a distance.

After the brief family interaction, the Jadhav women are to fly back to India via Dubai.

It is not clear whether they will land in Mumbai or proceed to New Delhi to brief the Indian government on the meeting.

Since his arrest, Jadhav’s family has kept a very low profile and never interacted with the media, and remained away from Mumbai most of the time.