Rahul says Kashmir is India's 'internal issue' (2nd Lead)

New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) Days after former Congress President Rahul Gandhi came back from Srinagar and alleged that the situation in Kashmir was not normal, drawing sharp criticism from the BJP, he said on Wednesday that he supported the government stand that Kashmir was India's internal issue and there was no room for Pakistan to interfere.

The Congress MP, now in his Lok Sabha constituency Wayanad in Kerala, said in a series of tweets: "I disagree with this government on many issues. But let me make this absolutely clear: Kashmir is India's internal issue and there is no room for Pakistan or any other foreign country to interfere in it.

"There is violence in Jammu and Kashmir. There is violence because it is instigated and supported by Pakistan, which is known to be the prime supporter of terrorism across the world," he added.

His remarks came almost four days after a delegation of a dozen opposition leaders that went to Srinagar was sent back to the national capital.

After returning from Srinagar, Gandhi had said that journalists with us were badly handled and beaten. "It is clear that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is not normal."

His remarks came as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Ministers have been raking up the issue of the Indian government's abrogation of Article 370 related to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories.

The Pakistan government and many of its Ministers used media bytes and tweets of Congress leaders to internationalise the issue of Kashmir.

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who is against demonizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi on every issue, also joined Gandhi and said that the Congress had insisted all along that Kashmir was an integral part of India and the party was only opposed to the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated.

He also asked Pakistan not to draw any comfort from the Congress stand.

"Spot on, Chief! This is what Congress has insisted all along: J&K is an integral part of India; we opposed the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated because the way it was done assaulted our Constitution and democratic values. No reason for Pakistan to draw any comfort from our stand," Tharoor tweeted.

Before Gandhi, several party leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, his son Deepender Hooda, UP MLA Aditi Singh, Milind Deora, Anil Shastri and others spoke in favour of the decision to axe Article 370.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also slammed Pakistan for its "diabolical deception" over Kashmir saying Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were were and would remain an integral part of India.

In a detailed statement, Surjewala said the "Congress had noticed reports about the Pakistani government having allegedly moved a petition on Jammu and Kashmir at the United Nations that includes the name of Rahul Gandhi".

"No amount of diabolical deception by Pakistan shall change this irrevocable truth," Surjewala said.

Instead, he said, Pakistan should answer about "unpardonable and inhumane violations of human rights" in Gilgit-Hunza-Baltistan.

"Pakistan also owes an explanation for designed persecution of over 70 million Mohajirs and killing of over 25,000 by Pakistani forces," he said.

The Congress leader said human rights violations in Balochistan had never been answered.

--IANS

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