Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said there was no room for Pakistan or any other foreign country to interfere in Jammu and Kashmir, and called Islamabad the “prime supporter of terrorism”.

“I disagree with this government on many issues,” Gandhi said in a tweet. “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,” he added. “There is violence because it is instigated and supported by Pakistan which is known to be the prime supporter of terrorism across the world.”

Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also released a statement referring to reports that cited an alleged petition moved by the Pakistani government to the United Nations on Jammu and Kashmir, in which Rahul Gandhi’s name had been “mischievously dragged to justify the pack of lies and deliberate misinformation being spread by Pakistan”.

“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,” the statement said. “No amount of diabolical deception by Pakistan shall change this irrevocable truth.”

Surjewala said that Pakistan should be held accountable for the “unpardonable and inhumane violations of human rights” in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir-Gilgit-Hunza-Balochistan region. He also listed out other atrocities or the “designed persecution” of more than seven crore Mohajirs [Muslim immigrants of muti-ethnic origin and their kin who migrated from India to Pakistan] and the killing of over 25,000 of them by the country’s security personnel.

“The entire world witnessed the horrific murder of 128 innocents on 13th July, 2018, during an election rally by Balochistan Awami Movement,” Surjewala said. “The gross abuse of human rights of Pashtun people in the tribal regions by Pakistani Army as also the systematic persecution and prosecution of Ahmadiyya religious community is yet to be answered by Pakistan.” The Congress leader reiterated that every militant organisation, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Taliban, flourished in Pakistan due to military and political patronage.

“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 said in the statement.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who has been criticised by the Kerala Congress unit for praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also backed Gandhi. “Spot on, Chief,” Tharoor said in a tweet. “This is what [Congress] has insisted all along: J&K is an integral part of India; we opposed the manner in which Art 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.”

Gandhi’s statements came a few days after he lashed out at the Centre over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. A delegation of Opposition leaders, including Gandhi, were sent back from Srinagar airport on Saturday. Speaking to reporters, Gandhi had said that the Opposition “got a taste of the draconian administration and brute force unleashed” on the people of the state, adding that the situation there is not normal.

Pakistan reportedly quoted Gandhi and mentioned his visits in its letter to the United Nations on Jammu and Kashmir.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have escalated since New Delhi’s August 5 announcement that Jammu and Kashmir’s special status would be revoked. New Delhi’s actions on Jammu and Kashmir were swiftly condemned by Islamabad, which downgraded diplomatic ties and ended bilateral trade. Since then, Pakistan has raised the Kashmir matter at the United Nations Security Council, and has talked of raising it at the UN Human Rights Council and the International Court of Justice as well.

The Centre imposed a security lockdown and communications blackout in the state earlier this month before withdrawing the special status and splitting Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. The restrictions on public gatherings and movement are still in place.

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