Even before the CRPF soldiers’ blood spilled at Pulwama has dried, the trial of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case at the ICJ has caught the attention of the whole country. For apparently no fault of his, an ordinary businessman who was abducted by Pakistani operatives out of Iran and taken to Pakistan, has been caught up in a web of international espionage, conspiracy and inter-country diplomatic/legal crossfire. However, what is more tragic and even absurd is that his case been weakened by none other than his fellow Indians and Indian publications.
Here are a few of his ‘fellow Indians’ who have tried everything to ‘help’ Pakistan’s case:
When Mr Thapar wrote this piece titled The Mysterious Mr Jadhav for The Indian Express in April 2017, he attempted to paint, a rather dubious picture of Kulbhushan Jadhav. However, a more important question would be: Why is Mr Thapar attempting to discredit a person merely through media knowing fully well that the person is an Indian national and his life is in grave danger. At such a point in time, should the life of a fellow Indian be more important, or a fancy Op-ed piece, Mr Thapar needs to ask himself. By publishing such articles, Mr Thapar has allegedly not only sought to, rather mischievously, mould public opinion against a fellow Indian and helped Pakistan’s cause, but also arguably pre-empted the course of justice, even before all the arguments have been heard and a verdict delivered. Perhaps a more apt title for Mr Thapar’s piece would have been – The Mysterious Mr Thapar!
Then Mr Praveen Swami wrote a piece titled India’s Secret War in Frontline in February 2018. Apart from the fact that the title itself sounds as if someone from an enemy country is the author, the tone and the tenor of the article is a clear attempt at portraying India’s counter-terrorism operations as some shadowy secretive acts of agencies and individuals. The fact is that the Indian agencies are merely trying to protect our country and people, especially in the context of the longstanding and serious threats that we face on our borders from all corners. By dubbing Mr Jadhav as a formal naval officer-turned spy, Mr Swami has allegedly projected a harmless businessman as a spy, endangering the life of Mr Jadhav. Again, other than the merits or the demerits of Mr Swami’s claims, what is it that made Mr Swami write that piece in the first place indicting a fellow Indian and advancing Pakistan’s case, is a serious point to reflect on.
Another Indian who has publically linked Mr Jadhav with RAW and allegedly weakened India’s case is Mr Chandan Nandy. Writing in The Quint in January 2018, with the title ‘Two Ex-RAW Chiefs Did Not Want Kulbhushan Jadhav Recruited As Spy’, Mr Nandy has supposedly attempted to create a link between Mr Jadhav and Indian agencies. At a time when a fellow Indian’s life was hanging by a thread, making insinuations against the person as well as the Indian agencies was not only untimely but even seemed motivated. That The Quint had to take down the piece soon enough speaks of the shoddy editorial practices at the publication – how did such a piece even get published in the first place? The fundamental question is: whether Mr Nandy and The Quint were arguing for Pakistan, instead of India and a fellow Indian.
Therefore, even as the Indian state is leaving nothing to chance in its earnest endeavour to protect a harmless businessman, the threat to Mr Jadhav has come less from Pakistan and more from his compatriots. And a responsible government of a country does everything in its power to protect the life and liberty of its citizens. In all countries, responsible journalists and members of civil society observe restraint and are more discretionary in the expression of their views on matters of national security. But even before the final arguments have been made and heard and verdict declared either way, these individuals and their writings have attempted to hand the case on a platter to Pakistan, an adversary who has had a recorded history of brazenly sponsoring the cold killing of our civilians and soldiers. Common sense says that we should first whole-heartedly support the government’s efforts to save the person’s life, bring him back to our country and then take part in a public discourse on the merits or the demerits of the case.
In the end, whichever way this case goes, one thing is clear – the ‘clinching evidence’ being provided by an enemy country in an international court, in their quest to take the life of an Indian national, is a bunch of columns written by Indian journalists.
Does this remind us of colonial times when Indian ‘sepoys’ loyal to an alien regime were deployed against patriotic Indians?