India revoked special constitutional status of occupied Kashmir


India's ruling party on Monday revoked the special constitutional status of occupied Kashmir. Home Minister Amit Shah also moved a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories – Jammu Kashmir as one and Himalayan Ladakh region as the other.

With the special status repealed, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in occupied Kashmir and settle there permanently. Kashmiris fear this will lead to a demographic transformation of region from majority Muslim to majority Hindu.

As parliament debated the move, Indian media reported that the government has moved 8,000 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) from different parts of the country to IoK. The Indian army and air force have also been placed on high alert.

A statement issued by the home minister said that "Jammu and Kashmir will be a union territory with legislature while Ladakh will be a union territory without legislature".

Home Minister Amit Shah, president of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), addresses the Indian parliament on Monday. — Photo courtesy ANI Twitter

Chaos erupted in the upper house of the Indian parliament as opposition lawmakers shouted slogans and started protesting after Home Minister Amit Shah urged members to discuss the legislation that seeks to end the autonomous status for Muslim-majority Kashmir.

Shah, who is also the president of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), proposed that all regulation under Article 370 will not be applicable after a presidential nod, reported India Today.

After Shah proposed that the regulation under Article 370 will not be applicable after presidential nod, the Rajya Sabha witnessed massive uproar with the opposition slamming the Centre over the move, reported India Today.

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the BJP had "murdered the constitution today".

Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi sought to reprimand the opposition, reported Hindustan Times. “Amit Shah is rectifying the historical blunder of Jawaharlal Nehru,” Joshi told the opposition benches about the resolution that had been on the agenda of the ruling BJP for years.

Amit Shah said Article 370 was used as "vote bank politics" and the earlier governments lacked the political will to revoke it. "But the Modi government has the political will and we are not bothered about vote bank politics," Shah said.

The move by India's Hindu nationalist-led government to revoke the special constitutional status, which allows only residents to buy property and hold state government jobs, is the most far-reaching move on the disputed Himalayan region in nearly seven decades.

Communications were cut, with private mobile networks, internet services and telephone landlines cut.

"There shall be no movement of public. All educational institutions shall also remain closed. There will be a complete bar on holding any kind of public meetings or rallies during the period of operation of this order. Identity cards of essential services officials will be treated as movement passes wherever required," read an Indian government order, but added: "there is no curfew in place

Earlier in the morning, a cabinet meeting was held at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's residence.

According to India Today, Indian opposition leaders also met in the parliament on Monday morning to discuss the security situation in Kashmir.

Late on Sunday night, the Indian government imposed curfew-like restrictions in the restive region while sending in tens of thousands of additional troops.

Former IoK chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were placed under house arrest..

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