Deepak Mittal does a serious, unglamorous job. As a career diplomat and joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs, Mittal is the backroom person and not the man who seems destined for limelight.

Yet, one precious second of his life has gone viral today. And Mittal is India’s national hero of the moment.

At the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in which India is fighting for its citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav who was captured, jailed and is being tortured by Pakistan on the highly contested premise of being a spy, when Pakistan’s attorney-general Anwar Mansoor Khan offered a handshake, Mittal politely and firmly refused it and did a namaskar instead. In the wake of the biggest Pak-backed terror attack on forces in Kashmir’s Pulwama and with India fighting for its son’s release in ICJ, he eloquently delivered the nation’s message on Monday: We don’t shake hands with terrorists.

Social media roared with admiration. A deeply wounded nation thanked the diplomat profusely for his gesture. You can’t be killing our soldiers and shaking hands at the same time.

It is as if Mittal has spoken out, without uttering a word, on behalf of all his countrymen. Mittal heads the Pakistan division in the external affairs ministry.

After the handshake incident, India presented oral arguments at the ICJ in The Hague. The oral proceedings in the Kulbhushan Jadhav began on Monday.

Kulbhushan Jadhav, 48, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of espionage and terrorism in April 2017. India moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in May the same year against the verdict.

Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Kulbhushan Jadhav in Balochistan in 2016 after he allegedly entered from Iran. A 10-member bench of the ICJ on May 18, 2017, had restrained Pakistan from executing Kulbhushan Jadhav till the case was decided.

India maintains Jadhav was kidnapped in Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.