New Crisis on the Horizon: India Abolishes Kashmir’s Constitutional Autonomy

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( — August 6, 2019) — The Indian government has said it is abolishing the constitutional autonomy of Kashmir, which is an “explosive decision” for an area that has been in rebellion for decades.

Hindu nationalist authorities passed a presidential decree abolishing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which had been guaranteed by the Indian constitution.

The announcement in parliament was made by Interior Minister Amit Shah, despite criticism from the opposition.

The presidential decree comes in to force immediately and will replace the articles on Jammu and Kashmir which were previously in the constitution, especially article 370.

Article 370 of the Indian Constitution refers to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in the fields of defense, foreign affairs and communication, and other topics that are under local law.

The bill was also presented to the parliament on the division of the area. Ladakh, the eastern part with the Buddhist majority, will be separated.

The rest of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes the area with the Hindu population of Jammu in the south, and the Srinagar valley with the Muslim majority in the north, will lose the status of a federal state and gain “Union Territory” status. This means that it will be under the direct authority of New Delhi and will have almost no autonomy.

The abolition of Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy is an old promise of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who recently won his second term in the elections.

“Today is the darkest day for Indian democracy,” former Jammu and Kashmir Mehbub Mufti chief of government quoted on Twitter.

According to Mufti, the unilateral decision of the Indian government to repeal Article 370 of the Constitution is illegal and unconstitutional, making India an occupying force in Jammu and Kashmir.

Since 1989, the rebels have been fighting for the independence of Kashmir from India and the annexation of Pakistan, which controls part of that territory in question.

The conflicts over Kashmir between Pakistan and India have been going on for the last 60 years and the Indian part of Kashmir has been the scene of frequent attacks by Islamic extremists. An estimated 68,000 people were killed in the conflicts. Traditionally, the US backs Pakistan while Russia and India are allies.