India ruling party members burn effigies of Pakistan foreign minister

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Members of India’s ruling party set fire to effigies of Pakistan’s foreign minister on Saturday, following a war of words between the South Asian rivals at the United Nations.

The nuclear-armed neighbors have had poisoned relations and fought several wars since independence from Britain 75 years ago.

This week at the UN in New York, Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar told Pakistan to “try to be (a) good neighbor,” calling the country the “epicenter of terrorism.”

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His Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari responded by calling India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi the “butcher of Gujarat.”

This was in reference to when Modi was chief minister of the state of Gujarat when sectarian riots in 2002 left more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead. He was accused of turning a blind eye.

On Friday hundreds of members of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members held a protest outside Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi over the remarks.

The BJP announced new protests around the country for Saturday, and in the cities of Bhubaneswar, Amritsar and Ranchi demonstrators set fire to effigies of Bhutto Zardari and shouted slogans.

On Friday, India’s foreign ministry called Bhutto Zadari’s comments a “new low even for Pakistan,” while quipping that “‘Made in Pakistan’ terrorism had to stop.”

Pakistan on Saturday responded with its own statement saying that the Indian government “has tried to hide behind subterfuge and canard to conceal the realities of the 2002 Gujarat massacre.”

“It is a shameful story of a mass killings, lynching, rape and plunder. The fact of the matter is that the masterminds of the Gujarat massacre have escaped justice and now hold key government positions in India,” the statement added.

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