India has repealed articles 35A and 370 of its Constitution, revoking special status granted to Indian-Administered Kashmir.
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah announced the move in the Rajya Sabha. The order has been signed by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Jammu and Kashmir is the only predominantly Muslim state in India.
The government has also decided to bifurcate the state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The former will have a legislature while the latter won’t.
The move comes after India locked down Indian-Administered Kashmir, cut off internet and cell phone services and put senior leaders under house arrest. It also deployed thousands of additional troops to the region.
Article 35A allowed the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly to define who is and isn’t a permanent resident of the state. It also allows the assembly to determine who gets state grants, who has the right to purchase land and property and who can permanently settle in the region. It also granted the assembly the power to restrict the rights of anyone who wasn’t a permanent resident.
Related: Curfew-like restrictions imposed in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution granted special autonomy to the area. It allowed the state’s assembly to make its own Constitution and gave it autonomous state power.
According to the Business Standard, this special state status is not exclusive to Indian-Administered Kashmir. It quoted constitutional experts who said that there are similar arrangements made by the Centre with several other areas, such as Himachal Pradesh and the Northeast.
The Print noted that this special status was given to Jammu and Kashmir because their accession to India was contingent on their being given rights and sovereignty. According to Article 370, the power of Parliament to make laws in the state are only limited to subjects that fall under the Union and Concurrent list.
The move was condemned by opposition leaders and Kashmiri politicians.
GOIs intention is clear & sinister. They want to change demography of the only muslim majority state in India , disempower Muslims to the extent where they become second class citizens in their own state.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) August 5, 2019
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is currently under house arrest in Kashmir, said the “way some sections of media and civil society are celebrating these developments with glee is disgusting and disconcerting”.
Omar Abdullah, another former chief minister and incumbent vice-president of the National Conference, said in a statement that the repeal was “a total betrayal of the trust the people of Jammu and Kashmir had reposed in India”.
Ahead of the clampdown in Kashmir, India had ordered thousands of tourists out of Kashmir saying there was a threat of militant attacks by Pakistan-backed groups, AFP reported.
Kashmir has been in the grip of an insurgency for three decades which has left tens of thousands dead, mainly civilians.
India and Pakistan have controlled most of Kashmir since their independence in 1947. Each claims the other’s sector and they have fought two of three wars over the territory.
Nearly 80,000 paramilitary forces have been flown into Kashmir in past 10 days, already the world’s most militarised region where India has roughly 500,000 troops.
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