The Indian-controlled Kashmir is in lockdown on Monday amid India’s decision to scrap a part of the constitution. The latest move is likely to spark unrest, with tens of thousands of new troops deployed to the area. Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah, one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s closest allies, told parliament on Monday that president Ramnath Kovind had signed a decree abolishing Article 370, essentially stripping the significant autonomy Kashmir had enjoyed for seven decades.
Why is Kashmir in lockdown?
Jammu and Kashmir is Hindu-dominated India’s only Muslim-majority state, and the latest bid to abolish Article 370 is likely to reopen historic wounds.
Residents were put on lockdown early on Monday due to the likelihood of outrage and fury in the region.
People have been barred from leaving their homes, and internet, telephone and cable television services have been cut off.
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A number of politicians have also been put under house arrest, including two former chief ministers of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kashmir is already one of the most militarised zones in the world.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars and a limited conflict over Kashmir since 1947, and during the partition of the Indian subcontinent that year, many expected Jammu and Kashmir to go to Pakistan.
Pakistan has condemned New Delhi’s decision to revoke the special status, saying it would “exercise all possible options” to counter it.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: ”India is playing a dangerous game which will have serious consequences for regional peace and stability.”
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What is India trying to do to Kashmir’s status?
In 1949, Article 370 was added to India’s constitution to provide autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir.
It allowed the state to have its own flag, constitution and independence over all matters except foreign affairs, defence and communications.
The Modi government said it would now introduce measures to modify the region’s administrative status from a state to a union territory.
In the Indian system, state governments retain significant authority over local matters, but New Delhi has more of a say in the affairs of a union territory.
Some critics fear the move will change the demographic makeup of Kashmir by giving people from the rest of the country the right to acquire property and settle there permanently.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, from the opposition Congress Party said: “We stand by the constitution of India.
“We will give up our lives for the protection of the constitution of India.
“Today, the BJP (Prime Minister Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party) has murdered the constitution and the democracy of the country.”