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India's home minister accuses Pakistani agencies of backing terror groups acting against India

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GUWAHATI, India — India's home minister hit out at Pakistan on Saturday, accusing its state agencies of using terror to try to destabilize India, and rejecting Pakistan's assertion that non-state actors are involved in terrorism.

"Pakistan is continuously engaged in destabilizing India, but says non-state actors are behind the acts of terror. I want to ask Pakistan if its Inter-Services Intelligence is also a non-state actor," Rajnath Singh said, referring to Pakistan's national intelligence agency.

Singh, the second-most powerful official in India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was addressing the heads of Indian police, paramilitary and intelligence agencies who were meeting in Guwahati, the main city in the remote northeastern state of Assam.

There was no immediate reaction to Singh's remarks from Pakistan.

India has long accused Pakistan of fomenting conflict by arming and training anti-India militants in the disputed region of Kashmir. Islamabad says it only provides them moral and diplomatic support.

Singh's comments came two days after heavily armed militants fought a fierce gunbattle with Indian soldiers in which at least 10 people, including four militants, were killed. Indian army officials said the rebels were attempting to infiltrate into Indian Kashmir before Himalayan mountain passes shut down with the onset of winter.

Singh said the failure of Islamic militant groups to win over young Muslims in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir was evident this past week when people ignored a call by separatist groups to boycott local elections.

More than a dozen rebels groups have been fighting since 1989 in Indian Kashmir, seeking independence from India or the merger of the region with neighboring Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since they won independence from Britain in 1947. Kashmir is divided between the two countries, but claimed by both in its entirety.

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