NEW DELHI: The Congress slammed Pakistan on Wednesday for "mischievously" dragging party leader Rahul Gandhi's name in a petition reportedly moved in the United Nations to justify its "lies and misinformation" on Jammu and Kashmir.
The opposition party also demanded an apology from the ruling BJP for "doing cheap politics" on the issue.
In a statement, the Congress said Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions were and would always be an integral part of India, and it accused Pakistan of instigating violence in Jammu and Kashmir.
Gandhi tweeted on Wednesday that Jammu and Kashmir is India's internal matter and there is no room for Pakistan or any other country to intervene.
He also accused Pakistan of instigating and supporting violence in Jammu and Kashmir, and said the neighbouring country is known to be "the prime supporter of terrorism across the world".
Meanwhile, the BJP hit out at Gandhi, accusing him of "insulting" the country through his comments on Kashmir situation and giving Pakistan a "handle" to target India in the UN.
Senior BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javadekar demanded an apology from Gandhi and the main opposition party, while describing the former Congress chief's remarks, in which he had spoken about reports of violence and death of people in Kashmir, as "most irresponsible politics" the country has witnessed.
"He has made a complete U-turn not due to his own will but due to circumstances and public pressure," Javadekar said. The Congress leader's allegations about violence in Kashmir were wrong, he said, adding it was made because of that party's "vote bank" politics.
The Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hit back at Javadekar, dubbing him a "misinformation minister" and one who has "lost his political balance".
"We think the BJP and its government need to introspect. How much will the BJP fall and lower its political stature? If they have a little realisation, they should come forward and apologise," he told reporters here.
Surjewala also accused Javadekar of trying to politicise a stand unitedly taken "for India, by Indians and in favour of the entire country in front of the world community".
"It is tragic that Prakash Javadekar is twisting a statement made by Rahul Gandhi, which reflects that the Indian National Congress and all other parties are united. We are in unison to take on the fake, false propaganda of Pakistan vis-à-vis the state of Jammu and Kashmir," Surjewala said.
"We warn Pakistan and urge it that instead of ever questioning the status of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, they need to answer and set their own house in order. They need to answer vis-à-vis human rights violations," he said.
The Congress spokesperson asserted that Gandhi has said violence in Kashmir is instigated and supported by terror groups in Pakistan that thrive under the political and military patronage of the neighbouring country's government and Islamabad should be told to desist from supporting terror activities on Indian soil.
"Does Prakash Javadekar have an objection to that? Is it not a statement that shows the consolidated and united face of India?" Surjewala posed.
"In fact, the Congress followed up Rahul Gandhi's statement and we categorically said that Pakistan should answer to the world about unpardonable and inhumane violations of human rights in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir, in Gilgit, in Hunza and in Baltistan," he said.
Earlier, Gandhi tweeted that despite the fact that he disagreed with the BJP-led government on many issues, he is clear that Kashmir is India's internal issue and there is no room for Pakistan to interfere.
"I disagree with this government on many issues.
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," he wrote on Twitter.
"There is violence in Jammu and Kashmir. There is violence because it is instigated and supported by Pakistan which is known to be the prime supporter of terrorism across the world," Gandhi wrote.
Surjewala said in a statement that the party had noticed "reports citing an alleged petition moved by Pakistani Government to United Nations on Jammu and Kashmir, wherein name of Rahul Gandhi has 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.
No amount of diabolical deception by Pakistan shall change this irrevocable truth," the statement read.
The neighbouring country also owed an explanation for the "designed persecution" of over seven crore Mohajirs (Muslim immigrants of multi-ethnic origin and their descendants, who migrated from various regions of India to Pakistan after the independence of Pakistan) and the killing of over 25,000 of them by its forces, Surjewala said in the statement.
"Let the world be reminded again that almost every terrorist organisation thrives in Pakistan under political and military patronage be it Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Hizbul Mujahideen, Al-Qaeda or Taliban and its multiple offshoots," he said.
"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 added.