India has told Turkey not to “interfere” in its internal affairs, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Indian-administrated Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region where tensions remain high since the Indian government stripped it of its limited autonomy last year.
In a statement cited by Indian media on Saturday, Raveesh Kumar, spokesman for the external affairs ministry, rejected “all references to Jammu and Kashmir” made in a joint declaration issued by Ankara and Islamabad following Erdogan’s visit to neighbouring Pakistan on Friday.
“We call upon the Turkish leadership to not interfere in India’s internal affairs and develop proper understanding of the facts, including the grave threat posed by terrorism emanating from Pakistan to India and the region,” Kumar said, calling Kashmir “an integral and inalienable part of India”.
During his trip to Islamabad, Erdogan said the suffering of the Kashmiri people had worsened in recent years due to the taking of “unilateral steps”.
“This approach, which aggravates the current situation and revokes the freedom and vested rights of the Kashmiri people, benefits no one,” he was quoted as saying by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.
“The Kashmir problem can be solved not by conflict or oppression, but on the basis of justice and equity.”
Both India and Pakistan claim the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir in full, but administer separate portions of it. The nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours have fought two of their three wars over the region.
Tensions have remained high since India passed a constitutional amendment in August last year, revoking a special status and autonomy for Indian-administered Kashmir and absorbing it into the country’s governance mainstream.
Earlier in 2019, the two countries also fought a limited military conflict over Kashmir, conducting air attacks on each other’s territory.