NEW DELHI: India has scrapped the special status for India-administered Kashmir through a presidential decree.
The move is termed as the most far-reaching political step on the disputed region in nearly seven decades.
Home Minister Amit Shah told parliament on Monday that the president had signed a decree abolishing Article 370 of the constitution that gave a measure of autonomy to the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.
“The entire constitution will be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir state,” Shah said to loud protests from opposition legislators who were against the repeal.
Article 370 of the constitution forbid Indians outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs and securing education scholarships.
The decree, which was issued hours after imposing a major security clampdown in the disputed region, said the measure came into force “at once”.
Critics of such a measure say that in doing away with Article 370, the government hopes to change India-administered Kashmir’s Muslim-majority demographics by allowing in a flood of new Hindu residents.
Shah said the government 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.
Kashmir former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti reacted to the move saying “Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy. Decision of J&K leadership to reject 2 nation theory in 1947 & align with India has backfired. Unilateral decision of GOI to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K.”
She tweeted that “It will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent. GOIs intentions are clear. They want the territory of J&K by terrorising it’s people. India has failed Kashmir in keeping its promises.”
Pakistan terms India’s Kashmir move ‘irresponsible, irrational’
The law dates to 1927, when an order by the administration of the-then princely state of Jammu and Kashmir gave the state’s subjects exclusive hereditary rights.