Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday lashed out at Indian National Congress and said that the party batting for greater autonomy in India-held Kashmir was an insult to the bravery and sacrifice of Indian soldiers, reported Times of India (TOI).

"Yesterday's statement of a Congress leader on Kashmir clearly shows how the party feels on surgical strikes and bravery of our army," PM Modi said at a rally in Congress-ruled Karnataka's Bengaluru.

According to TOI, Modi was referring to senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram's statement expressing support for greater autonomy in the state. He had observed that most Kashmiris who raise 'azaadi' slogans are, in fact, demanding more autonomy.

"Why are Congress leaders lending their voice to those who want azaadi in Kashmir? This is an insult to our brave soldiers," PM Modi said, accusing Congress of trying to gain political mileage by making statements which disrespect Indian soldiers.

Read: ‘K’ is for Kashmir

"Congress is shamelessly speaking in the language of 'separatist' forces in Kashmir, which is being spoken in Pakistan," TOI quoted him as saying.

PM Modi demanded a clarification from the Congress on Chidambaram's remarks and declared that "he and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will never let anyone threaten the sovereignty of India."

PM Modi is on a a day-long trip to Congress ruled Karnataka to attend various public functions, a visit which is being seen as a precursor to the BJP's election campaign in the state which goes to polls early next year, TOI reported.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 but both claim the territory in its entirety.

Separatist groups have fought for decades roughly 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the disputed territory, demanding independence or merger of the Himalayan region with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting.

India has accused Pakistan of backing Kashmiri separatists. Pakistan, however, denies the charge, saying it only provides moral and political support to Kashmiris.


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