The Narendra Modi government on Thursday downplayed the usage of the term “Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir” by the United States during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country, stating that similar terms have been used in the past too, PTI reported. On Monday, while listing Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, the US State Department had said the militant group had claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the 2014 explosives attack in “Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir”.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay, in response to a media query, said the use of the term “Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir” was used by the US to merely affirm the Indian position that Syed Salahuddin had been involved in cross-border terrorism against India. He said the US State Department had used a similar term country reports on terrorism brought out in the past too, especially between 2010 and 2013.

“India’s consistent position that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India is well known,” Baglay said. He added that India has welcomed the designation of Syed Salahuddin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the Donald Trump administration, calling it “the strongest joint expression of the commitment of the two sides” on fighting terrorism.

The use of the term, and the government’s lack of response to it, had raised the hackles of the Opposition. Former Finance Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram had on Wednesday questioned the government in a tweet. “US official statement used the phrase ‘Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir’. How did India accept this?”

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, had asked, “Why has the Prime Minister not protested despite being on US soil? Why is the Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister and the Home Minister mum on the issue? Why is the BJP silent? Is it not a sell-out of national interests?”