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Indian COAS remarks “provocative” and an attempt to turn attention away from protests: DG ISPR

Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor accused India on Thursday of making “provocative remarks” and using friction along the Control Line to drive attention away from its internal turmoil over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

“Provocative statements and preparations for escalation along LOC by Indian COAS appear to be an effort as usual to divert world attention from wide spread protests in India against CAB. Pakistan Armed Forces shall befittingly respond to any Indian misadventure or aggression,” the DG ISPR tweeted.

Major General Ghafoor, whose comment comes as a response to the recent remarks made by the Indian army chief, cautioned that the armed forces of Pakistan have the right to respond appropriately to any provocation or misadventure by Indian troops on the border with Pakistan.

In suggestive and inflammatory remarks, Indian army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday that the situation along the LoC could escalate every time and that the Indian army was prepared to spiral the escalation process, said The Times of India.

The remarks came as thousands of people took to the streets in India again on Wednesday against a new citizenship law based on religion that has touched off violent unrest, and a southern state imposed curbs on public gatherings to pre-empt further demonstrations.

India had last week passed the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, enacted into law after the successful passage, that is widely seen as being aimed at marginalizing the 200-million strong Muslim minority in the country. The bill aims to grant citizenship to religious minorities from neighbouring countries, but excludes Muslims.

The bill was voted on amid raucous scenes in the Indian parliament and violent protests in the northeast of the country, leaving several dead and injured. Earlier last week, the bill had sailed through the lower house of the Indian legislature with 311 votes in favour and only 80 against. It passed the upper house with 125 in favour and 99 against.

According to the new amendment to the Indian constitution, people belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, or Parsi and Christian faiths, and fleeing ‘persecution’ in Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, may be granted Indian citizenship. There is no similar provision for Muslim refugees, enraging the Muslim minority of India.

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