In a failed attempt to trigger hostility, Pakistan human rights minister Shireen Mazari posted a video clip on Twitter on Sunday claiming that Indian forces were felling apple trees in the Kashmir Valley. However, it has been revealed that the video clip was from a High Court-ordered drive to clear encroachment in Shimla in 2018.
The minister alleged that Indian police forces "couldn't bear even to see fruit trees" in Kashmir "lest the Muslim Kashmiri's eat the fruit" as she posted the clip that showed police forces felling trees in a valley. She accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government of barbarism and "fascist hate-filled mindset".
The eviction drive was part of a Himachal Pradesh High Court order on May 9, 2018, that granted the Special Investigation Team (SIT) powers to remove hundreds of apple trees in Shimla as part of a drive to clear illegal encroachments on forest land.
The court order was given after court identified 'big' apple producers who had encroached 50 to 200 bighas of forest land and reaped profits from apple trade for the past four decades, according to a The Indian Express report.
Tensions between India and Pakistan heightened after the Indian government's decision to cancel the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two union territories - J&K and Ladakh.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan aims to garner support within the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) over claimed atrocities by Indian forces in the Valley and raise the Kashmir issue at the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York this month.
India has responded to Pakistan's comments on Kashmir issue with accusations of cross-border terrorism, which New Delhi claims is state-sponsored. Indian Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar, had said that bilateral talks between the two countries would only be possible after Pakistan stops financing and recruiting terror groups. "Terrorism is not something that's being conducted in the dark corners of Pakistan. It's done in broad daylight," he said.
US President Donald Trump will be attending Modi's address to Indian Americans at Houston, Texas, on September 22. The "historic" friendship is believed to dampen Khan's attempt to internationalise the Kashmir issue and gain support from a powerful ally such as the US.