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India Moves To Revoke Disputed Kashmir's Special Status


Indian paramilitary soldiers stand guard during a curfew like restrictions in Jammu on August 5.

India's government has moved to revoke the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir and sent thousands of troops into the restive Himalayan region and cut phone and internet services in the region.

Pakistan has condemned the move as being in violation of a United Nations resolution.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, with both claiming the region in its entirety. Two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since their independence from British rule were over Kashmir.

Home Minister Amit Shah announced the revocation in parliament on August 5 amid massive protests from the opposition and said it would become law as soon as it was signed by the country's president.

The decision has been widely criticized by legal experts, some calling it an attack on the constitution.

Shah's statement came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a cabinet meeting and the government's top decision-making body on security matters, the Cabinet Committee on Security which he heads.

Soon after the announcement, the Ministry of Law and Justice released an unsigned presidential order laying out the envisaged changes.

The revoked law, Article 370 of the Constitution, allows Indian state Jammu and Kashmir to have its own constitution, flag, and decision-making rights for all matters except for defense, communications and foreign affairs.

Article 370 also forbids Indians from outside the 12-million state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs, and securing education scholarships.

Article 370 is sensitive because it guarantees significant autonomy for the Muslim-majority state.

Critics of India's Hindu nationalist-led government see the move as a bid to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.

There has been a long-running insurgency on the Indian side.

According to a copy of the order, the revocation of Article 370 will "come into force at once" and will "supersede the Constitution."

The former chief minister of the state, Mehbooba Mufti, said the move effectively made India an occupying force. She tweeted that the government's decision is "illegal" and "unconstitutional."

"Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy," Mufti tweeted.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Pakistani television the move violates UN Security Council Resolution 47, which concerns the resolution of the Kashmur conflict.

Qureshi, who's on a pilgrimage to Mecca, said that Pakistan would step up diplomatic efforts to prevent the revocation from coming into effect.

Based on reporting by AP, BBC, and Dawn.com

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