Jadhav's family leaves Mumbai

Mumbai: Amid growing support for former Navy commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has been sentenced to death by a Pakistan military court, MNS supporters took out a procession on Tuesday to condemn Islamabad while Congress and the BJP launched signature campaigns to demand his immediate release, even as his family left Mumbai.

A statement purportedly released by Jadhav's father, former police officer Sudhir Jadhav said the family learnt of their son's plight only through the television channels.

"We have decided to leave everything to God now. We have returned to our native place," he said, without disclosing the place where they suddenly departed on Monday.

Carrying placards and banners with anti-Pakistani slogans, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leaders and workers said Jadhav should be freed by Pakistan since he is innocent.

A group of MNS activists damaged a Pakistani flag and attempted to set it ablaze as part of the protests in Dadar on Tuesday afternoon.

Attacking Pakistan, state Congress President Ashok Chavan said the party would carry out a massive signature drive among the people in every district across Maharashtra from Wednesday.

"We will collect all these signatures and hand them over to the respective collectors to be forwarded to the centre government, seeking Jadhav's release," he told media persons.

Chavan said that Pakistan did not give an opportunity or legal aid to Jadhav to defend himself and this proves a premeditated anti-India stance by that country.

The BJP city unit also launched a signature drive at various places in Mumbai this evening to build up support for Jadhav's release, said an official.

The MNS has announced a protest 'Bike Rally' on Thursday from Mahim to Dadar as part of its campaign to secure Jadhav's release.

Eminent criminal lawyer Ujjwal Nikam urged the intervention of the United Nations Human Rights Commision and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan since Jadhav has not been given a free and fair trial.

"He is an ex-naval officer and was arrested from Iran, but what are the charges against him? What terror activities he indulged in? Let him be given an open, free and fair trial in front of the media, as we did to Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab," Nikam told media persons.

At the Jadhav home in Silver Oak building in suburban Powai's upmarket Hiranandani Gardens, scores of friends and neighbours converged this afternoon and held a silent protest.

They carried handmade placards and posters to express support to Jadhav and urged the Indian government to arrange for his early release.

Simultaneously, scores of locals offered special prayers at temples in Powai area for divine intervention for Jadhav's safe release.

On Monday, a terse statement from Pakistan's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said a Field General Court Martial had awarded the capital punishment to Indian 'spy' Jadhav, which was confirmed by Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Jadhav was arrested in Balochistan region on March 3, 2016, and Pakistan authorities claimed he used an alias of Hussein Mubarak Patel.

The ISPR said he was arrested for "involvement in espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan".

India on Tuesday warned Pakistan that bilateral ties will be hit if it went ahead with the death sentence to Jadhav.