India on Friday summoned the Acting Iranian Ambassador to protest Tehran's observations on Kashmir even as it abstained from voting on a U.N. resolution alleging human rights violations in Iran for the first time.

“Our decision on [abstaining from] the vote [on Iran] was made after due deliberation,” said a Ministry of External Affairs official.

India issued a demarche to Iran on Friday, the third since June, after Iranian Supreme leader Ali Khamenei mentioned Kashmir in his message to Haj pilgrims. On all the three occasions, Iran called on the Muslim community to support the “struggle” in Kashmir and mentioned it with Gaza and Afghanistan.

In the latest instance, Mr. Khamenei said: “the major duties of the elite of the Islamic Ummah is to provide help to the Palestinian nation and the besieged people of Gaza, to sympathise and provide assistance to the nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Kashmir, to engage in struggle and resistance against the aggressions of the United States and the Zionist regime.

Informed sources felt India needed to know whether there was any consistency in these statements coming from different wings of the Iranian power structure.

Asked if India saw this stand as a setback, they felt the issue should be looked at in a “much larger perspective,” especially because there was steady dialogue between both countries at high levels for the past one year and both sides were following up on MoUs signed previously.

“We attach high priority to our ties with Iran. We continue to pursue several projects such as development of the Chabar port, a link from there to Bam [a town on the Iranian-Afghan border] and the north-south corridor project. None of them is under the purview of U.N. sanctions which, anyway, are not mandatory for members to observe. We are continuing discussions on them,” said the sources.

Earlier demarches

Officials pointed out that this was not the first time such sentiments were expressed by the Iranian leadership and officials. Two demarches were served on Iran for similar comments by an official and a leader.

“There have been three such instances between June and November. There was this strain of opinion coming forth from Iran. So after due deliberation, the government decided to vote the way it did,'' they added.

While 80 countries voted in favour of the resolution, 44 voted against it and 57 countries abstained. As compared to last year, six more countries voted in favour of the resolution. There was no consensus among Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) countries, pointed out the sources.

More In: National | News