13 April, Mumbai
Online and offline efforts to build up public support to secure the release of former Indian Navy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav — awarded death sentence by a Pakistani military court — continued to grow on Thursday.
Besides, lawyers and activists from Mumbai, New Delhi and other places plan to move various courts to secure his safe and secure homecoming.
Social media sites like Change.org recorded several petitions by individuals, rights activists, politicians and lawyers who urged the Indian and Pakistani governments and even the United Nations to ensure Mumbai-based Jadhav’s release.
Besides the 15-plus other petitions on Change.org, other social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are full of messages sympathetic to Jadhav and offering support and help to his family members who have left for an undisclosed destination since Tuesday.
Nationalist Congress Party legislator Jitendra Awhad and activist Hasan S.A. Mulani said they have petitioned Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
They said the death sentence handed to Jadhav on April 10 has “shocked and saddened the people of India and those around the world”.
An Inter-Services Public Relations statement on April 10 said Jadhav was nabbed from Balochistan on March 3 last year for alleged involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against the neighbouring country.
“Right from the day of Jadhav’s arrest, India has been asking for consular access as we believe that Jadhav was ‘snatched’ from Iran by Pakistani agencies in 2016. The Iranian government has also said that Jadhav was in that country and not engaged in any illegal activity,” they said.
In a petition to the UN and other top Indian officials, Imran Khan urged that Jadhav’s execution without providing him legal aid, which is possible only by giving India consular access to him, will not only violate his right to legal remedies but also his basic right to life.
The Maharashtra Congress on Wednesday launched a three-day signature drive at all district headquarters, which will then be handed over to the respective collectorates.
“Many thousands, including youth and women, are queueing up to sign these petitions and offer sympathy to the Jadhav family,” MPCC spokesperson Sachin Sawant said.
Other efforts include formation of human chains by various groups and individuals, special prayers in temples, appeals by various celebrities and different forms of protests against Pakistan.
All major political parties — the Congress, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiv Sena, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen — have demanded that the Centre take immediate steps to ensure Jadhav’s immediate release.