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Rahul's comments on Kashmir situation gave Pak 'handle' to target India, says BJP; Cong clarifies


New Delhi, Aug 28: Launching a blistering attack on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after Pakistan used his Kashmir comments in a letter to the UN, the BJP said he has "insulted and shamed" the country by giving Islamabad a "handle" to target it, eliciting a sharp retort from the Congress which accused the ruling party of indulging in "cheap politics".

Prakash Javadekar

As reports of Pakistan using his August 10 comments that "there are reports of violence, there are reports of people dying in Jammu and Kashmir" became public, Gandhi said he disagreed with the BJP-led government on many issues but is clear that Kashmir is India''s internal issue, and violence there was "instigated and supported" by Pakistan.

The Congress also went into damage control with its chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala issuing a statement, slamming Pakistan for "mischievously" dragging Gandhi''s name in its petition in the UN to justify its "lies and misinformation" on Jammu and Kashmir.

What did Pakistan say about Rahul Gandhi, that got him into damage control mode on J&K

However, the BJP was unsparing in its criticism of the opposition leader with Union minister Prakash Javadekar accusing Gandhi of "insulting" and "shaming" India with his comments and demanded an apology from him.

This is the "most irresponsible politics" the country has witnessed, Javadekar said, accusing Gandhi of playing in the hands of Pakistan that used his remarks as an "evidence".

"Nobody spoke such a language in India... It gave Pakistan a handle. The Congress has shown India in a bad light. His comments have shamed and insulted India," he told reporters.

The Congress leader''s allegations about violence in Kashmir were wrong, he said, adding that it was made due to that party''s "vote bank" politics.

Taking a dig, Javadekar asked if Gandhi''s mindset had also changed due to change in his constituency.

Article 370: SC permits Sitaram Yechury to visit J&K with a strict condition

The Congress leader represents Wayanad, a minority dominated seat in Kerala, in the Lok Sabha after he lost from his traditional Amethi seat in Uttar Pradesh.

Prodded on his comments, Javadekar said his remarks were not about the constituency but its representative. "There is nothing wrong with Wayanad," he said.

His ministerial colleague Smriti Irani alleged that the opposition leader thinks "less of the tricolour and values it little, and is liked more by the enemy country".

"It is not for the first time that Pakistan is finding support from Rahul Gandhi," she said in Amethi.

Hitting back at the Information and Broadcasting minister, Surjewala said he has "lost his political balance" and dubbed him a "misinformation minister".

"We think the BJP and its government need to introspect. How much will the BJP fall and lower its political stature? If they have a little realisation, they should come forward and apologise," he told reporters here.

Surjewala also accused Javadekar of trying to politicise a stand unitedly taken "for India, by Indians and in favour of the entire country in front of the world community".

"It is tragic that Prakash Javadekar is twisting a statement made by Rahul Gandhi, which reflects that the Indian National Congress and all other parties are united. We are in unison to take on the fake, false propaganda of Pakistan vis-a-vis the state of J&K," Surjewala said.

"We warn Pakistan and urge it that instead of questioning the status of J&K, and Ladakh, they need to answer and set their own house in order. They need to answer vis-a-vis human rights violations," he said.

The Congress spokesperson asserted that Gandhi has said violence in Kashmir is instigated and supported by terror groups in Pakistan and thrive under that government''s political and military patronage, and Islamabad should be told to desist from supporting terror activities on Indian soil.

"Does Prakash Javadekar have an objection to that? Is it not a statement that shows the consolidated and united face of India?" Surjewala posed.

"In fact, the Congress followed up Rahul Gandhi''s statement and we categorically said that Pakistan should answer to the world about unpardonable and inhumane violations of human rights in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir, in Gilgit, in Hunza and in Baltistan," the Congress leader said.

The statement by Surjewala also said,"let no one in the world be in doubt that Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh were, are and shall always remain an integral part of India. No amount of diabolical deception by Pakistan shall change this irrevocable truth."

The neighbouring country also owed an explanation for the "designed persecution" of over seven crore Mohajirs (Muslim immigrants of multi-ethnic origin and their descendants, who migrated from various regions of India to Pakistan after the independence of Pakistan) and the killing of over 25,000 of them by its forces, the statement said.

"Let the world be reminded again that almost every terrorist organisation thrives in Pakistan under political and military patronage - be it Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Hizbul Mujahideen, Al-Qaeda or Taliban and its multiple offshoots," he said.

"We urge that Pakistan should answer these issues, both internally to its people as also to the international community, instead of raising the fake Kashmir bogey," Surjewala added.

The controversy broke out after Pakistan human rights minister Shireen Mirazi tweeted her letter written to 18 UN Special Procedures mandate-holders (Rapporteurs) on alleged violations of International Human Rights Law by India.

Javadekar said the Congress and Gandhi have made a "complete U-turn" not due to his own will but due to circumstances and public anger over his earlier comments.

On August 10, Gandhi had said, "there are reports of violence, there are reports of people dying in Jammu and Kashmir".

Asked about continuing restrictions in the Valley, Javadekar said "reasonable restrictions" are in place for ushering in normalcy.

It is temporary and people of Kashmir have "welcomed" it, he added.

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