Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “watching Kashmir” remark has drawn sharp criticism from the opposition Congress questioning why the government did not rebut on the statement.

Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari in a tweet on Thursday wondered why the Centre did not question China on the pro-democracy protests being muzzled in Hong Kong and the human rights violations in Xinjiang and Tibet.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had on Wednesday said that he was “watching” the situation in Kashmir and would support Pakistan in issues related to its core interests.

Reacting to the remarks, India reiterated its stance that other countries must stay away from commenting on the “internal matters” of the country.

India asserted that “it is not for other countries to comment on the internal affairs of India”.

“We have seen the report regarding a meeting of Chinese President Xi Jinping with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan which also refers to their discussions on Kashmir,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, commenting on a report of the talks between Xi and Imran Khan in Beijing, said.

“India’s position has been consistent and clear that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India. China is well aware of our position. It is not for other countries to comment on the internal affairs of India,” he added.

The back-and-forth comes at a time when the preparations have been completed for the meeting between Xi and PM Modi in Tamil Nadu’s Mahabalipuram.

Jinping is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the second informal summit near Chennai on October 11 and 12.

India has ruled out any scope of discussion between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the Kashmir issue, asserting that all countries, including Beijing, have been told categorically and clearly that abrogation of Article 370 is totally an “internal matter” of New Delhi.

Ties between the two countries strained when India scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy and bifurcated the state into two Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, which will come into being on October 31.