India moves to revoke Kashmir autonomy amid spike of tensions around disputed region
5 Aug, 2019
New Delhi has declared it is revoking a decades-old constitutional provision that granted special powers to the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir. The move comes amid ongoing flare-ups between India and Pakistan over the region.
The majority-Muslim region that became part of India in the times of decolonization, and has been a point of dispute between India and Pakistan ever since, has enjoyed broad autonomy under the Indian constitution. It is the only Indian state that was allowed to have its own constitution.
All laws passed by the Indian parliament, except for those regarding defense, communications, and foreign policy, had to first be ratified by the local legislature before coming into force in Kashmir. Apart from that, only local residents could purchase land or property in the state or hold office there.
Thank you, PM @narendramodi. I am in tears. I have been stormed with phone calls & messages. Never imagined this would happen in my lifetime. Full integration of Jammu & Kashmir & Ladakh with India is final now. No special status. History written before our eyes. No Article 370.
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) August 5, 2019
This will no longer be the case starting Monday, New Delhi has announced. A resolution to revoke Kashmir’s special status was introduced on Monday by Home Minister Amit Shah and enshrined in a decree signed by President Ram Nath Kovind, the ceremonial head of India.
The reform plan also involves splitting the region into two union territories – Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. The latter will not have a legislature of its own, unlike the former. The Ladakh area is the eastern mountainous and sparsely populated part of the Indian-administrated part of Kashmir, which has a shorter border with Pakistani-controlled territory.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for Kashmir’s autonomy to be revoked as early as 2014. At that time, the move was resisted by the local Kashmiri authorities. Since last year, the region has been ruled directly by India’s federal government, sparking concerns that its autonomy might be abolished.
India’s latest move comes amid a spike of tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad over the disputed region. Last week, India said it thwarted an “infiltration” attempt by Pakistani militants in Kashmir. The region also witnessed several instances of cross-border shelling in recent days. On Sunday, the two nations’ forces exchanged gunfire in a border skirmish in Kashmir’s remote Poonch district.
India also deployed a total of 35,000 soldiers to Kashmir over two weeks, in addition to the forces already stationed in the region, and tightened security. The restrictions involved a ban on public gatherings in the main city of Srinagar, and as well as a blackout of internet and phone services.