Early this morning the Indian government abolished the decades-old law that gave semi-autonomy to the disputed region of Kashmir, causing scenes of chaos within government as the region of Kashmir reportedly went on military lockdown with politicians in the region under apparent house arrest.
Article 370 of the constitution, the law in question that was revoked, was established in 1949 and essentially exempts the state of Jammu and Kashmir from the Indian constitution. It was the foundation of the reasoning behind Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India at the time of independence from Great Britain in 1947. Jammu and Kashmir were allowed a separate constitution and flag, and were given its own legal autonomy except for matters in foreign affairs, defense, and finance.
By revoking this law amidst heightened tensions between India and Pakistan over control of Kashmir, the Hindu-nationalist BJP party of India, led by Prime Minister Modi, have caused scenes of chaos within government and within the region of Kashmir.
One legislator in government, coming from the Kashmir-based People’s Democratic Party, reportedly tore up a copy of the Indian constitution before being dragged out of the chambers. Many opposition Congress members made public statements and took to social media to express deep betrayal, calling this move
“catastrophic” and “shameful”.
Political leaders have also reportedly been placed under house arrest in Kashmir as the region continues to remain under lockdown. Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister who is apparently under house arrest, called this decision a “betrayal of trust…a long and tough battle lies ahead. We are ready for that”. Mehbooba Mufti, another former chief minister who is also under apparent house arrest in Kashmir, tweeted that today was the “darkest day in Indian democracy”.
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.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) August 5, 2019
Protests and rallies have been seen across Pakistan in reaction to this news, with hundreds of Kashmiri activists staging a demonstration in front of the Indian embassy in Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad with numerous other rallies across cities such as Karachi and Hyderabad.
As India’s Hindu-nationalist BJP party continues to implement controversial decisions, it becomes worrying for the vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities within the Indian state who continue to suffer under the rise of Modi-influenced Hindu nationalism.