KARACHI: Simply but aptly titled “The mysterious Mr Jadhav”, well-known journalist Karan Thapar has written a hard-hitting article about the Indian spy who has been sentenced to death by a military tribunal in Pakistan.
The sub-head coined for the piece — published on Friday on the website of the Indian Express — was equally instructive in that it succinctly summed up what kind of an article it was. This standfirst said: “The case of the Indian sentenced in Pakistan offers more questions than answers.”
Mr Thapar said he was intrigued by Kulbhushan Jadhav’s story. So he began reading about it, but the more he read about it the more he became confused. “Alas, all I’ve ended up with is questions. The more I learn, the more they multiply,” he wrote.
The first thing that troubled the Indian journalist was why Jadhav had two passports, one in his own name and the other one in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel.
“According to the Indian Express, the second passport was originally issued in 2003 and renewed in 2014. The passport numbers are E6934766 and L9630722,” he wrote.
When the journalist contacted the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), he was told that the answer could be obtained only if Indian officials managed to gain access to Jadhav. Mr Thapar responded to the suggestion by writing: “But why not check the records attached to the passport numbers? Surely they would tell a story?”
The Indian government claimed that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran and forcibly brought to Balochistan. Mr Thapar said that New Delhi did pursue the matter with Iran. “But, as the MEA spokesperson admitted, they don’t seem to have responded or, perhaps, even conducted an investigation yet. We seem to have accepted that. Odd, wouldn’t you say?”
The Indian journalist went on to ask what was so special about Jadhav that only he was kidnapped by the Pakistani sleuths and not any other Indian living in Iran. “After all, there are 4,000 Indians in Iran — and no one else has been abducted.”
The Indian journalist quoted A.S. Dulat, a former chief of RAW, as saying unhesitatingly that Jadhav could be a spy. “As he put it, if he was the government, he would hardly admit it,” he wrote.
Turning to the disappearance of Lt Col Mohammad Habib in Nepal, the Indian journalist said: “Was Jadhav convicted and sentenced to pre-empt India from claiming it had caught a Pakistani spy? And now, is an exchange of ‘spies’ possible?”