Angry at the critical statements by Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Kashmir, India on Friday summoned the charge d'affaires of the Iranian embassy on Friday to lodge a formal protest. In retaliation, India also, for the first time, abstained from a UN vote on human rights violations in Iran (every year, India votes in favour of Iran). The Iranian diplomat, Reza Alaei, said sources, was told that India was “deeply disappointed” (by Khamenei’s statements). India’s demarche against Iran came after at least three comments by Khamenei in the past few months on Kashmir that have appeared to challenge Indian sovereignty. Senior government sources said, “When our territorial integrity is questioned, you do what you have to do.” Since July, Khamenei has talked about the struggle of Muslims in Kashmir, and this week, asked the “elite” of the Islamic Ummah to protest against “Zionist regimes” that rule the “nation” of Kashmir.
However, the Iranian government, called to task by India, has said time and again that their position on Kashmir hasn’t changed. Which means that either the Iranian government has been speaking in different voices or there are different centres of power in Iran. The Indian vote in the UN General Assembly will inevitably be connected to US President Barack Obama’s remarks on Iran in India, as an example that New Delhi might be succumbing to Washington’s influence. MEA spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said, “Our decision on the vote was made after due deliberation.” In the UNGA, the human rights resolution got 80 votes in favour, 44 against and 57 abstentions. India is still far away from voting in favour of such a resolution at the UN.