Amid tensions over the Pulwama terror attack, India presented its arguments in the high-profile Kulbhushan Jadhav case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague on Monday as public hearings began in the case, just four days after the deadly suicide attack that killed 44 Indian soldiers.
Tensions between the two nations were visible even as Indian diplomats including Secretary of Foreign Affairs of India Deepak Mittal met with Pakistan’s Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan at the ICJ. As the two met before the hearing, Mittal, in a clear sign of suspended diplomatic relations, rebuffed Khan's hand which was stretched out in greeting.
Ditching the handshake, a smiling Mittal chose to respond with a firm 'Namaskar' instead.
The moment was captured in an Associate Press photograph from the hearing.
Close followers of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case would be aware that this is not the first time Mittal has withheld shaking hands with a Pakistani official at Hague, choosing instead to fold his hands in a 'namaskar'.
Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. India first approached the ICJ on May 8, 2017 for the "egregious violation" of the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 by Pakistan by repeatedly denying it consular access to Jadhav.
During the first hearing for the same in The Hague, Mittal had offered a similar gesture to greet Syed Faraz Hussain Zaidi, counsellor of the Pakistan Embassy in the Netherlands as Adviser. Many media houses at the time reported the gesture to be a sign of the frozen diplomatic relations between the two states.
(Deepak Mittal of India offers 'Namaskar' to Pakistan's Syed Faraz Hussain Zaidi in The Hague, Netherlands, in May 2017. Credit: AP/PTI)