Indian government abolishes decades-old laws that granted a measure of autonomy to the disputed Kashmir territory
The Indian government’s decision to abolish a special status for India-administered Kashmir has been widely criticised and opposed, as tensions prevail over the constitutional autonomy of the disputed region.
The announcement sparked chaotic scenes in parliament, with Indian opposition politicians condemning the presidential decree revoking Article 370 of the constitution that gives the state of Jammu and Kashmir a substantial degree of autonomy.
By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in occupied Kashmir and settle there permanently. Kashmiris as well as critics of India’s Hindu nationalist-led government see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.
The announcement is likely to raise tensions in one of the most heavily militarized regions in the world.
Pakistan says it will exercise all possible options to counter ‘illegal steps’ taken by India
Pakistan said that it would “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” taken by India .
Pakistan’s foreign minisry strongly condemned and rejected the move by the Indian government, stressing that IoK was internationally recognised as a disputed territory.
“No unilateral step by the Government of India can change this disputed status, as enshrined in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions,” read the statement. “The decision will never be acceptable to the people of IoK and Pakistan.”
“As the party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps,” the statement read while reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to the Kashmiri cause.
“Darkest day in Indian democracy”
Political leaders in India-administered Kashmir, including former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah who have been placed under house arrest, also criticised the decision.
“The Indian government’s unilateral and shocking decisions today are a total betrayal of trust that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had reposed in India when the state acceded to it in 1947,” Abdullah said in a statement. The decree, which he called an “aggression”, will have “far-reaching and dangerous consequences,” said Abdullah. “A long and tough battle lies ahead. We are ready for that.”
Mufti tweeted that the latest move was the “darkest day in Indian democracy”. “Unilateral decision of GOI [government of India] to scrap Article 370 is illegal and unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K [Jammu and Kashmir],” she posted.
UN urges India, Pakistan to show restraint over Kashmir
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, his spokesman said on Monday, after India revoked the special status of Kashmir, the Himalayan region that has long been a flashpoint in ties with neighboring Pakistan.
“We urge all parties to exercise restraint,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters, adding that U.N. peacekeepers observing a ceasefire between India and Pakistan in the state of Jammu and Kashmir “has observed and reported an increase in military activity along the line of control.”
What is Article 370?
Article 370 was the basis of Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to the Indian union at a time when former princely states had the choice to join either India or Pakistan after their independence from the British rule in 1947.
The article, which came into effect in 1949, exempts Jammu and Kashmir state from the Indian constitution. It allows the Indian-administered region jurisdiction to make its own laws in all matters except finance, defence, foreign affairs and communications.
It established a separate constitution and a separate flag and denied property rights in the region to the outsiders which means the residents of the state live under different laws from the rest of the country in matters such as property ownership and citizenship.