India taking advantage of Covid-19 crisis to push ‘Hindutva’ agenda in occupied Kashmir: FO

Updated 17 Jul 2020

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FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui in a statement rejected Indian allegations of infiltration attempts by Pakistan. — Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan/File
FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui in a statement rejected Indian allegations of infiltration attempts by Pakistan. — Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan/File

India has sought to take advantage of the world's preoccupation with the coronavirus crisis to further push its "Hindutva" agenda in Indian-occupied Kashmir including by attempting to alter the region's demography, the Foreign Office (FO) said on Tuesday.

Referring to India's new domicile law, under which an Indian citizen who has lived in occupied Jammu and Kashmir for 15 years can call the territory their place of domicile, FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said the changes "represent another opportunistic move by the RSS-BJP dispensation to advance their sinister aim of effecting a demographic change in the occupied territory".

"Pakistan and the Kashmiris have firmly rejected these Indian machinations in the past and will continue to do so in the future," she added in a statement.

The FO also categorically rejected what it termed "baseless" Indian allegations of “infiltration attempts” by Pakistan and "unfounded claims" that Indian troops have targeted “launching pads” across the Line of Control (LoC).

The statement also rejected the "provocative statements" of Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, including his recent claim that India is “dominating the enemy”.

"There is nothing new about Mr Rajnath Singh’s delusions; nor about his belligerent anti-Pakistan rhetoric," the statement said, adding that it was obvious that the "Indian propaganda machine is in over-drive".

According to the handout, the repeated Indian allegations were aimed at diverting the world's attention from India’s "state-terrorism and grave human rights violations" in occupied Kashmir. It said India also seeks to use these allegations as a pretext for “false flag” operations which Pakistan has been sensitising the international community about.

"India’s belligerence continues to imperil peace in the region," the statement said, noting that India had committed 882 ceasefire violations in 2020 alone and "deliberately targeted innocent civilians" living close to the LoC in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK)

Meanwhile in occupied Kashmir, Indian forces have been targeting the youth in the garb of "so-called cordon-and-search operations", the FO said, adding that in April alone, 29 Kashmiris have been martyred, including seven since the onset of Ramazan.

The statement also criticised India for the harassment and intimidation of Kashmiri journalists, saying it has further intensified under the notorious “Unlawful Activities Prevention Act”, while Indian forces continue to operate with "complete impunity".

"On the other hand, continued communications restrictions and lack of unfettered access to medical and other essential supplies are compounding the Covid-19 situation for the Kashmiris in IOJ&K," the statement noted.

The FO asked India not to underestimate "the resolve of the people and the armed forces of Pakistan to thwart any aggressive design".

"Our immediate and effective response to India’s Balakot misadventure clearly demonstrated Pakistan’s will, capacity and preparedness," the statement said.

The statement stressed that Pakistan will continue to extend its moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people till the realisation of their right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Security Council resolutions.

The FO statement comes days after Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar had called out India for "promoting Hindutva and saffron terrorism", saying its attempt to "link coronavirus with Muslims and Pakistanis has failed badly".

Recently, Indian army chief General MM Naravane had alleged that Pakistan was "exporting terror" during the Covid-19 crisis while India was helping others and its own people.

“It is very unfortunate that at a time when the whole world and India is fighting the menace of this pandemic, our neighbour continues to foment trouble for us,” The Hindustan Times had quoted Navarane as saying.

The allegation was rejected by both the FO and the military's media wing.