On Kulbhushan Jadhav, Samajwadi's Naresh Agarwal Sparks Anger With Baffling Comment

Kulbhushan Jadhav spoke to his family across a glass screen, using intercom, for 45 minutes. No physical contact was allowed and the family was not allowed to speak in its native Marathi during the tightly-controlled interaction at the Pakistani foreign office.

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On Kulbhushan Jadhav, Samajwadi's Naresh Agarwal Sparks Anger With Baffling Comment

Naresh Agarwal was seen by many to be condoning Pakistan's poor treatment of Kulbhushan Jadhav's family.

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Samajwadi Party's Naresh Agarwal said many Indians are in Pakistan jails
  2. Kulbhushan Jadhav met his wife and mother on Monday
  3. He was sentenced to death in Pakistan on espionage charges
Samajwadi Party lawmaker Naresh Agarwal provoked a controversy today with his comments on Kulbhushan Jadhav, the Indian man on death row in Pakistan, at a time there is widespread anger over the way his family was treated in Islamabad.

"If they (Pakistan) consider Kulbhushan Jadhav a terrorist in their country, then they will treat him that way. We should treat terrorists in our country the same way," said the lawmaker this morning.

Mr Jadhav met his wife and mother for the first time on Monday since he was sentenced to death eight months ago on espionage charges that India says are concocted. He spoke to them across a glass screen, using intercom, for 45 minutes. No physical contact was allowed and the family was not allowed to speak in its native Marathi during the tightly-controlled interaction at the Pakistani foreign office.

"I don't understand why the media is only talking about Kulbhushan Jadhav... there are many other Indian prisoners in Pakistan - why isn't the media focusing on them?" Mr Agarwal said, asked to comment on India's angry reaction to Pakistan's handling of the Jadhav family meeting.

Mr Agarwal was seen by many to be condoning Pakistan's poor treatment of Mr Jadhav's wife and mother.

The comment drew instant condemnation from various parties. Union minister Hansraj Ahir said: "This is a very unfortunate statement. An Indian citizen speaks like this. He can protest against the government as he is in the Opposition but this is seen as a protest against the nation."

The ruling BJP's GVL Narasimha Rao also ripped into Mr Agarwal saying he had "betrayed national interest", and used the controversy to target the Congress.

Comments
Mr Rao said the lawmaker's comments "are symptomatic of betrayal of national interest by the Congress-led UPA over Pakistan. They side with Pak, wine and dine with Pak leaders, abuse Indian army chief, question surgical strikes, call Kulbhushan Jadhav a terrorist. Alas!!"

In what appeared to be damage control, Mr Agarwal later wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu saying: "The ill-treatment meted out to Indian prisoners lodged in Pakistani jails is known to all. In spite of knowing this Indian government has not taken stern steps, this is a very serious matter."

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