India revokes Kashmir special status, gives government more powers over the region
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has initiated a revocation of the special constitutional status of Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority state, amid uproar in Parliament and huge troop deployment in the region.
Home Minister Amit Shah, one of Modi’s most trusted political confidants, announced the decision in Parliament on Monday morning, triggering a huge uproar in the legislature.
Shah told members of the upper house that the government has decided to repeal a law that gives special status to the Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir by presidential order.
Shah said that the government has also decided to split the state into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which will be ruled directly by the central government without a legislature of its own.
Under the plan, Jammu & Kashmir will be converted from a full state into a union territory, though it will continue to have an elected state legislature. But the change will give the central government far more powers over the region, including over the police.
The law, Article 370 of the Constitution, forbids Indians outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs and securing education scholarships.
The change will give the central government far more powers over the region, including over the police.
As the government prepared to make its announcement, Kashmir had been put under lockdown. Authorities also suspended some internet services and deployed thousands of fresh troops around the increasingly tense region.
Around midnight in Kashmir, government forces laid steel barricades and razor wire on roads and intersections to cut off neighborhoods in Srinagar, the region’s main city. The government issued a security order banning public meetings, rallies, and movement and said schools would be closed.
Kashmir has been divided between Indian and Pakistan since their independence in 1947. The Indian-administered part of the territory has been in the grip of Muslim terrorism for three decades that has left tens of thousands dead.