India summons Iran envoy to protest Kashmir remarks


New Delhi : Rebuffing critical statements by Iran on Kashmir, India Friday summoned its acting chief of mission and conveyed that such “unpalatable” remarks impinged on the country’s territorial integrity.

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Y.K. Sinha, joint secretary in charge of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan in India’s external affairs ministry, issued a strong demarche to Iran’s Charge D’ Affairs Reza Alaei and expressed India’s “deep disappointment and regret” over the remarks.

Sinha is understood to have told the Iranian diplomat that such remarks disregarded India’s sensitivities over core issues of territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a recent message to Haj pilgrims in Tehran: “Today the major duties of the elite of the Islamic Ummah is to provide help to the Palestinian nation and the besieged people of Gaza, to sympathise and provide assistance to the nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Kashmir, to engage in struggle and resistance against the aggressions of the United States and the Zionist regime, to safeguard the solidarity of Muslims….”

To voice displeasure over such remarks, India for the first time abstained Thursday from voting on a UN resolution on human rights violations in Iran, which was piloted by Canada and other countries. Earlier, India has always voted against the resolution.

“Our decision on the vote was made after due deliberation,” the external affairs ministry said in a calibrated response.

Eighty countries voted in favour of the resolution, 44 voted against it and 57 countries abstained. The voting pattern on the resolutions on Iranian human rights record in the past few years has shown a steady increase in the number of countries questioning Tehran’s human rights record.

However, due to civilisational and energy ties with Iran, India had abstained from voting for the resolution so far.

Significantly, even in many Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries, there was been no consensus on the resolution.

Since July this year, Iran has on three occasions voiced support for the “struggle” in Kashmir and clubbed the situation in the state with that in Gaza and Afghanistan, sources said.

India has conveyed strong objections over the Kashmir remarks, but the sources pointed out that New Delhi does not see these remarks as a “major setback” to the overall relationship and attaches highest priority to its projects with Iran.

Sources added that every time India has raised the issue with Iran, Tehran has told New Delhi that there was no change in its official position on Jammu and Kashmir that the situation in the state was an internal matter of India.