At rallies in Bihar, Rajnath touches upon Gilgit-Baltistan,

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Pulwama, CAA Patna, Nov 2 (PTI) The Centre has taken strong exception to Pakistans plan for granting provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, an area it is in 'illegal occupation' of, and made it clear that the entire PoK belonged to India, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday.

Addressing election rallies in Bihar, Singh also slammed the Congress for having raised 'doubts' in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's abilities in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack and questioned the party's 'silence' in the wake of a Pakistani minister's admission that his country was responsible for the February 2019 offensive.

He also said that the government enacted the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to help those facing religious persecution in neighbouring countries.

'Pakistan is intending to grant provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, an area it is in illegal occupation of. Our government has made it clear that entire Pakistan occupied Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan, is an integral part of India,' he said.

The Ministry of External Affairs had on Sunday said that India 'firmly rejects' the attempt by Pakistan to bring material changes to a part of Indian territory which is under Islamabad's 'illegal and forcible occupation' and asked the neighbouring country to immediately vacate such areas.

Singh who canvassed for NDA candidates in West Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi and Madhubani districts, charged the Congress with having made unseemly remarks after the Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot air strike which followed.

Days after the Pulwama offensive, India carried out air strikes inside Pakistan and targeted terror camps at Balakot. The Congress had then wanted proof of the attack.

'They (the Congress) had then cast doubts on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Why are they now silent after the recent disclosure of a Pakistan minister?' Singh said referring to Fawad Chaudhry, whom he did not mention by name.

Chaudhry had, while participating in a debate on the floor of the national assembly, hailed the Pulwama terror attack in which close to 40 CRPF personnel were killed, as a 'success' of Prime Minister Imran Khan's leadership.

'Humne Hindustan ko ghar mein ghuskar maara' (we hit India on its own soil)', Chaudhry had said, though the Pakistan administration has since been claiming that the minister has been 'quoted out of context'.

On the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Singh said, 'We did not the want partition of the country in the first place. However, after Pakistan came into being, it has been known to all what type of treatment Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists choosing to stay back on the other side of the border have been receiving.

'Therefore, we brought in a law to help those facing religious persecution in that country,' said the Union minister.

The CAA, which was to be followed by a National Population Register and a proposed National Register of Citizens, had caused much anxiety in parts of the country having a heavy concentration of Muslims, like the northern parts of Bihar bordering Nepal.

The minority community has been fearing that the proposed NRC could leave many of them disenfranchised.

Singh shared details of speeches he delivered on his Twitter handle.

The BJP leader also lavished praise on Modi for displaying 'foresight' through schemes like the 'Jan Dhan' which ensured financial inclusion of all, besides construction of toilets on a large scale which came as a big relief to rural women who faced untold humiliation.

He also said the state benefited immensely with Modi in power at the Centre and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in the state.

'The response I have been getting at my Bihar rallies has been simply amazing. I am confident that the NDA has poised for a huge victory in the state assembly polls,' he added. PTI NAC NN NN