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Transcript of Weekly Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson (April 13, 2017)

April 13, 2017

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Namashkaar. Good afternoon to everyone. Before I start greetings for the Baisakhi festival. I have no announcements for today so I am open for questions from the floor.

I have two suggestions as I understand there would many questions that pertain to the issue of Kulbhushan Jadhav so what I will do I will take all the questions on this and answer them. Secondly what I say in English, I would also render my responses in Hindi for the benefit of Hindi Language journalists and colleagues.

Question: On Kulbhushan Jadhav. Minutes ago Nafees Zakaria had a press conference in Islamabad where he again blamed India for espionage and had said that there will be no concessions that will be granted to Kulbhushan Jadhav. How is India looking at it diplomatically? How are we going to exert pressure on Islamabad as we have seen that over the previous year no consular access was granted even when 13 attempts were made, so how is India looking at it? Do you hope of some kind of consensus or agreement that consular access will be granted?

Question: What are the diplomatic and legal options that Government of India has to pursue his case?Question: Are we looking at political level exchanges between the External Affairs Ministers or may be the NSAs talking on it for the release of Kulbhushan Jadhav?

Question: Kal jis tarah se Nawaz Sharif aur wahaan ke Army Chief ki mulakaat ke baad khabarein aai ki unhone spasht kar diya hai ki Kulbhushan Jadhav ke rukh parivartan nahi hogaa to uske baad Bharat kaa kyaa rukh hogaa is maamle mein?

Question: Pakistani media reports say that India has also captured one of their army officers. Would you clarify on this issue?

Question: In the Rajya Sabha, EAM Sushma Swaraj said that conditional consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav is being allowed but they had labelled some ridiculous charges against officials. What was the nature of those charges and what was the level of the officials against whom these charges were being levelled?

Question: There have been reports that a retired army officer of Pakistan has been captured somewhere near the Indo-Nepal border. Has MEA got any inputs from Home Ministry on this, is it true, what can you share on this? And the question that arises from this, are you looking for a swap of these kind of prisoners or those who have been apprehended?

Question: So far the manner in which Pakistan has handled the Kulbhushan Jadhav case keeping us completely in the dark, are you raising this point or has this been raised so far with the United States, is there a plan to raise it at the UNHRC when it meets in June?

Question: Has there been any contact whatsoever with Kulbhushan since Monday’s death sentence either directly or indirectly? Do we know about his wellbeing at all? Contact of any Indian or representative of government, indirectly directly any which way?

Question: In the interview to India Today, Abdul Basit has said that he was tried in a military court because he was a military officer and the second thing he has said that Pakistan has sufficient evidence against him and it was also shared with India. And thirdly he said that he was travelling on an Indian passport but on a fake name on fake identity?

Question: Sushama Ji ne sansad mein ye kahaa thaa ki Kulbhushan Jadhav ko Iran se kidnap kar ke Pakistan laayaa gaya, aap logon ki bhi lagaataar yahi reaction hai ki Kulbhushan ko kidnap kiyaa gaya. Ek senior German Diplomat ne bhi usko aagey badhaate hue kahaa ki Taliban ne Kulbhushan ko kidnap kar ke fir ISI ko diya thaa. To kidnaaping to ko lekar kya hamaare pass koi proof hai jisko hum duniyaa ko saamne rakh sakein ki who kidnap kiye gaye the?

Question: According to Pakistan authorities Kulbhushan Jadhav was travelling on an Indian passport issued in the name of Hussain Mubarak Patel. Has your ministry been able to assess if this is accurate and if so why was he issued a passport on a name other than his own?

Question: India maintains that he was picked up from Iran. Any outreach or conversation or engagement with the Iranian government for an on the record statement that we was in Iran and was picked up from there?

Question: Does India know where exactly Kulbhushan is, which town and which jail? And after the 13 consular access requests, have there been any more because the Indian High Commissions has just gone back to Islamabad?

Question: The Iranian Ambassador has said that the Iran government is conducting an enquiry and they will soon share a report. It’s been almost a year now when he said this. Did Iran share any report on this?

Question: Kyaa hamane US ya Saudi se is baare mein koi baat ki hai, koi pressure dalwaane ki koshish ki hai?

Question: Kya America ke Raashtriya Suraksha Salahkaar Bharat aane waale hain? Agar woh aate hain to Kulbhushan maamle mein unse kisi madad ki ummeed hai?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: I think I have around 20 or so questions on the issue of Kulbhushan Jadhav. I will try and answer them in a comprehensive way and also to the specific points that some of you have raised.

Let us first get the facts right. Kulbhushan Jadhav is a kidnapped innocent Indian who is a retired officer of the Indian Navy. And these two facts that he is an Indian and he is retired officer of Indian Navy was communicated to Pakistan more than a year ago when the case of his illegal custody came to our knowledge.

Sach to yah hai ki Kulbhushan Jadav ek avkaash prapt nau-sena ke adhikaari hain, Bharatiya naagrik hain aur ye baat humane Pakistan Sarkar ko pichhale saal March 2016 mein hi bataa di thi, jab hamaari jaankaari mein ye baat aai thi ki Kulbhushan Jadhav Pakistan mein maujood hain.

Woh Pakistan mein kaise maujood hain, saari sambhavanaayein hain aur jo hamane pahle bhi kaha tha aur jiska ab hamein yakeen hai ki kisi prakaar se unko agwa kar ke Pakistan le jaya gaya aur tab se, lagbhag ek saal se upar se woh Pakistan ki hiraasat mein hain.

Ek sawal thaa ki woh Pakistan mein kahan hain, hamein is baare mein nahi pataa ki Pakistan mein woh kahaan hain. Jaisa ki aap logon ko pata hai 10 April tak 13 requests ki gai thi unke consular access ke liye.We had made 13 requests for consular access but so far Pakistan has denied the consular access. The Pakistan government has also not shared with us his location or any specific details as to how and where he is being held and what is his condition.

Consular bhent nahi ho sakne ke kaaran unki avasthaa kya hai, vo kahan par sthit hain is baare mein koi bhi jaankaari hamaare paas nahi hain aur naa hi Pakistan Sarkar ne aaj tak is baare mein koi bhi jaankaari hamein di hai ki woh kahaan par hain yaa kis haalat mein hain.

Is sandarbh mein Videsh Mantri Ji ka jo statement hain sansad mein woh aap logon ne dekhaa hoga lekin us statement ke kuch mukhya aur mahatvapoorn pahalu hain unko dohrana sandarbhit hai.

It is relevant to repeat some of the points that External Affairs Minister made in her statement in the Parliament in the context of this whole episode. But even before the External Affairs Minister made the statement on the 11th of April, as soon as this information of death sentence allegedly passed on Kulbhushan Jadhav by a purported military court in Pakistan came to our knowledge, the Pakistan High Commissioner was summoned, he was demarched by Foreign Secretary on 10th of April itself. It was made clear to the government of Pakistan that given the circumstances of this case namely kidnapping of Mr. Jadhav, absence of any credible evidence to substance the concocted charges against him, and the farcical nature of the proceedings against him, the absence of consular access to him despite 13 demarches, the government and people of India will regard it as a pre-meditated murder if the indefensible sentence awarded to him were carried out.

Pakistan ke High Commissioner ko ye baat saaf taur par bataa di gai thi hamaare Videsh Sachiv ke dwara ki, kyonki unko kidnap kar ke le jaayaa gaya hai, unke khilaaf koi bhi saboot nahi hai, unke khilaaf jo bhi man-gadhant aarop lagaaye gaye hain woh be-buniyaad hain aur aise aaropon ko satya saabit karne ke liye kisi bhi prakaar ka saboot nahi prastut kiyaa gaya hai aur ek tathaakathit kanooni prakriyaa chalaai gai Pakistan mein usmein bilkul bhi paardarshitaa nahi hai, kisi bhi prakaar ki uski credibility nahi hai. To is prakaar ki sthit mein aur consular bhent ki 13 mango ke baavjood bhi anumati naa diye jaane par, to is tathaakathit military court dwaraa pass kiye gaye aadesh ka yadi kriyanvan kiyaa jaataa hai to Bharat ki Sarkar aur naagrik is baat ko ek soche-samjhe tareeke se kiye gai hatyaa hi maanenge.

Uske baad Videsh Mantri ne jab Parliament mein vaktavya diya to unhone aur bhi vistaar se is case ki prishthbhoomi par jaankaari di.

She also stressed the fact that there was no evidence and also the fact that denial of consular access spoke of strength or rather the lack of it of the baseless charges levelled against Mr. Jadhav.

Jab Videsh Mantri Ji ne bayaan diya sansad mein to unhone ye bhi kahaa ki kyonki aaj tak is par koi bhi saboot nahi pesh kiyaa gaya hai aur na hi unko consular bhent karne di gai hai. Consular Bhent na karane dena apne aap mein unke khilaaf jo bhi aarop lagaye gaye hain unki kya sachhai hai iske baare mein bahut kuch apne aap bolta hai. She also informed the parliament that the government of Pakistan has approached us this year to assist in investigation and this further underlines the insufficiency of evidence.

Kyonki Pakistan ki Sarkar ne khud hamse is saal ye kahaa ki aap hamaari madad kariye is investigation mein to ye is baat ka saboot hai ki unke pass Kulbhushan Jadhav ke khilaaf jo bhi unhone aarop lagaaye hain uske koi saboot nahi hain. Aur ye khud unke ek bahut senior dignitary ni December 2016 mein Pakistan ki sansad mein bataayaa tha ki jo soochnaayein hain unhein saboot nahi kahaa jaa saktaa.

In the light of all this we have said it very clearly that the proceedings against Kulbhushan Jadhav, where he has been denied proper defence, are farcical, the verdict is indefensible and no due process has been followed. And what has happened is in complete violation of norms of law, justice and international relations. Kulbhushan Jadhav ke maamle mein jo kuch bhi huaa hai abhi tak woh kanoon aur nyaay ki moolbhoot avadharanaaon aur maanyataon ke kilaaf hai aur antar-rashtreeya sambandhon ki moolbhoot maanyataaon ke khilaaf hai.

Videsh Mantri Ji ne ye bhi kaha thaa ki agar is sentence ko kriyanvit kiyaa gaya to Pakistan government ko ye sochanaa chahiye ki iska dono deshon ke sambandhon par kyaa prabhaav pad saktaa hai. She had also said that we are in touch with the family and we will extend fullest support to them.Unhone ye bhi kaha ki hum unke parivaar se sampark mein hain aur hum unko poori sahaayta denge. I have summed it up because some of the questions that you have raised their answers are contained here. The whole background and how we regard this whole episode where an innocent Indian has been kidnapped and has been kept illegally in Pakistan custody, denied the consular access, no evidence forthcoming to substantiate the baseless allegations against him.

Now some of the specific questions that you have asked and I will not go necessarily in the order in which you have asked.

On the question of capture of Pakistani army officer, I must say I have no information on this and so I cannot speculate.

Regarding the question of raising this issue with US and UN, let me mention specifically that there is a national sentiment on this issue, there is a national concern in India.

Kulbhushan ji ka naam Kul Bhushan hai lekin woh khaali apne parivaar ke hi nahi balki poore bharat ki bhaavnayein unke saath judi hui hain.

Kul means family. His name is Kulbhushan but it’s not merely he or his family but it’s the entire India and the entire country which is concerned about him and the sentiment of the entire country are associated with this unfortunate episode and people are behind him, in full support of him. Parliament of India has spoken very clearly in one voice on this matter. Senior Ministers of the government has told the Parliament that the government will do everything possible, all that it can to ensure justice for Mr. Jadhav.

Varishth mantriyon ne sansad ko bataayaa hai ki Sarkar jo bhi kuchh kar sakegi, jo bhi ban padegaa woh karegi jis se ki Kulbhushan Jadhav ji ko nyaay mil sake. Hamaari koshish hai aur is prayaas mein lage hue hain ki ye jo lakshya hamane apne saamne rakhaa hai desh ki bhaavnaaon jo is vishay se judi hain aur is liye jo lakshya hamane rakhaa hai hamaari koshish uske liye jaari hai.

At the moment I can tell you that we are engaged in achieving this objective. I would not like to speculate on the step specific to the future at this stage.

Abhi mere liye yah kahna uchit nahi hogaa ki is baare mein aagey kis se baat karenge aur kis se baat nahi karengey. Iraan sarkaar ka jahan tak sawaal hai, pichhale varsh dono deshon ki is sandarbh mein charchaa hui thi aur humane apne vichaaron se Iran ki sarkaar ko avagat karaayaa tha. Mere pass is sandarbh mein abhi koi jaankaari nahin hai ki Iran mein jo investigation ho rahi hai usmein kya hua. Humane kyun avgat karaayaa tha Iran Sarkar ko kyonki Kulbhushan Jadhav Chabahar ke kshetra mein kanooni dhang se ek vyavsaay kar rahe they. Wahaan par unki company registered thi us isliye wahaan par jo hua to humane sochaa ki humein Iran ki Sarkar ko jaroor is baat se avagat karaanaa chahiye.

We have informed the government of Iran last year about this matter. As to the progress of investigation, if they are conducting and where it is, I don’t have any information at this stage. As to the question of his so-called fake identity or original Indian passport, we can only ascertain all this once we have consular access. We have not seen the passport but it certainly begs a question if the allegation is that he is serving officer of Indian Navy and a spy, it begs the question what type of a serving officer and spy will carry his original passport with him especially if he is going to a country on "spying mission.”

Ye maan naa badaa ajeeb hai, is baat par sahaj hi vishwas nahi kiyaa ja sakta ki koi bhi is prakaar ka tathaakathit jasoos aur jo tathaakathit taur par ek varisth adhikaari hai woh apni jeb mein apna passport rakh kar jaasoosi ke mission par jaayegaa. Mujhe nahi lagta ki is prakaar ke aaroopon ke peechhe koi tathya parak baatein hain. Jab tak hamein consular access nahi milati tab tak is prakaran se jude tathyon par hum kuchh bhi nahin kah sakte aur yah ek durbhaagyapoorn baat hai.

I don’t have any information on the visit of the NSA of USA so I am not in a position to comment what matters will be raised with him.

As far as conditional consular access is concerned, the international norm is consular access. When one country’s national falls into the custody of other country’s authorities for whatever actions or deeds, the international norm and practice is consular access. Both India and Pakistan also have an agreement on consular access bilaterally. So we are not merely speaking about an international practice, we are speaking here of a bilateral agreement. This consular access has to be expeditiously granted. More than one year has passed, we have made this demand 13 times but the consular access has not been forthcoming.

To put a condition on granting consular access I think is to put the cart before the horse. Because what we have been saying is that we first have to verify that how this gentleman allegedly walked into Pakistan keeping the original passport in his pocket. In other words we do not know what are the circumstances of his presence in Pakistan were.

For ascertaining the circumstances of his presence in Pakistan we need to meet to him. In any case this is the international norm that the government of the holding country where the citizen is found has the obligation to extend this opportunity to the government of the country to which this individual belongs to meet this person. This has not happened. So we need to first meet him in order to understand how he came to Pakistan and as I said to put conditions for consular access is, as I said, to put cart before the horse. I don’t have the details of the nature of allegations at the moment and what they have put out in the public domain is the so called confessional statement of Kulbhushan Jadhav. So I would repeat that to put any condition to consular access is basically to deny the consular access.

Question: Just a clarification, after Monday afternoon when the High Commissioner was summoned to the MEA has there been any official or unofficial contact with anybody at any level in Pakistan Government? That is one and two, another clarification, you said that we are engaged in achieving our objective, my follow up question to that would be, are we trying to achieve our objective of talking to everyone but Pakistan, and if we are not talking then who is talking or speaking on our behalf?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: We have a diplomatic mission in Pakistan and Pakistan has a diplomatic representation in India so the two governments are in touch on various matters through the diplomatic channels and on this matter also which I said is of immense importance and also there is national sense of support as well as concern on this matter. We are obviously in touch with Pakistan through our High Commission and we are pursuing this matter through our High Commission right now.

Question: Just wanted to know if the civilian government in Pakistan is even in the know of this. What do you think, is the military acting on its own or everyone is together on this?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: It would not be fair for me sitting here to comment on the internal dynamics in Pakistan. However, I would only say that the events of the past month that the External Affairs Minister has pointed out in her statement that their dignitary admitted in their parliament about insufficiency of evidence. The Pakistani authorities asked us to assist them in completing the investigation this year and very recently, literally days before this so-called verdict has been passed. And suddenly this verdict has been passed and moreover on the same day this request for conditional access is repeated to us, so I will leave you to draw your own conclusions from this.

Question: What steps Government will take in future on this issue?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: I think I answered this question by saying that this is a matter on which the sentiment of whole nation has come to focus on it, national concern has become focused on this and the leadership is seized off this matter, we all are seized off this matter in the government at our own levels. The Government has said in the parliament at a high level that we will do all that is possible. Let me not go into speculation of what we will do in future but for the time being as I said, we are engaged, we are pursuing this matter. We are pursuing various options what could be the possibilities after this so called verdict has come out.Question: In Syria, Russia has used the veto power on the use of chemical weapons that were used. So India being a friend to Russia, Syria and the US, what is your reaction on the use of chemical weapons and also the use of veto power?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: On the question of Syria and the use of chemical weapons, you know that India is signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention. It has been our consistent position that the use of chemical weapons by anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances should not happen and any perpetrator of such an act should be held accountable. So that is our position on the use of chemical weapons as such. Now on this particular matter, the general question that you asked about Syria, I would like to point out that we have seen the statements made by the Foreign Minister of Russia and the Secretary of the State of the United States after their meeting yesterday in Moscow and also after the meeting of the Secretary of State of United States with the President of the Russian Federation. So those statements do contain and if I could quote the words of the Secretary of State of the United States that "we both (Russia and US) believe in a unified and stable Syria and we agree we want to deny a safe haven to terrorists.”

We think that it is important to defeat terrorism, which in that particular theater is represented among others by IS, and the cooperation of all countries is vital to achieving this objective.

Question: My question relates to the visit of Sheikh Haseena in India which is over now, we have seen the joint statement. On the last day Prime Minister Sheikh Haseena referred to West Bengal Chief Minister’s statement on an alternate proposal of not Teesta but through Tosha and she also made that in Dhaka in a press conference. What is Government of India’s position where we are considering any alternate position or we are going by the 2011 discussions that took place?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Government’s latest position on this matter is contained the joint statement issued on this matter.

Question: After the chemical attack on 4th, on 7th there was US air strike. What is Government of India’s position? Do you think these air strikes are justified?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: I think I have answered that question in a way because I have referred to the meeting between the US and Russian Foreign Ministers and the meeting of the US Secretary of State and the President of the Russian Federation and what it said about the desirability of the stability and unity of Syria and defeating terrorism there.

Question: I realize that you cannot comment in detail on the US National Security Advisor’s expected visit but he is going to be swinging through Afghanistan and Pakistan as we understand before he comes here. Could you just may be describe the areas of current interest in the US-India relationship and you would like to raise the possibility of Prime Minister’s proposed visit to United States. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Gopal Baglay: Thank you for this question. I mentioned to my friend here that I don’t have information on the date of the National Security Advisor of United States but I would say that if and when it takes place, I am sure his discussions with the National Security Advisor and other meetings in India will cover prominently the situation in the region, most importantly in Afghanistan and also the threat of terrorism that emanates within from a specific country and affects the entire neighborhood. This will obviously on priority but I can’t decide what the two dignitaries will discuss. Generally speaking the sense is that the regional security situation and of course the cooperation between the United States and India which has been growing in all spheres. In this meeting we hope will further help both the countries to consolidate this partnership that we are very proud of developing with United States.

Thank you all very much.

(Concludes)
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