India is revoking the Kashmir region’s special status and plans to partition it in half, according to Monday reports, a move long pushed by Hindu nationalists.
The Indian government announced a presidential order Monday that repeals Article 370 of the nation’s constitution, which granted autonomy to the disputed area and barred Indians from outside the region from permanently settling there, buying land or holding local government jobs.
Critics of the move have called it an attempt to dilute the Muslim majority’s political power in the region, according to Time. Kashmir has for decades been divided between India and Pakistan, both of which lay claim to the entire region, and the move is likely to inflame already high tensions between the countries.
“India is playing a very dangerous game by changing the status of Kashmir through illegal acts,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a Pakistani TV station Monday from Saudi Arabia. Hundreds of Kashmiri activists in Islamabad reportedly protested against the change.
The order will take effect upon approval by the lower house of Parliament, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party holds the majority.
Modi won reelection earlier this year on a platform including the end of special status for Kashmir.
Authorities have suspended internet service on cellphones in the region, which will affect about 7 million local residents, and deployed at least 10,000 soldiers to Kashmir while ordering thousands of tourists and Hindu pilgrims out of the state.
Kashmiri leaders say they have been placed under house arrest, The Guardian reported.
Last month, the Indian government rejected President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE's offer to mediate the dispute with Pakistan after Trump said Modi asked him to do so.
"We have seen @POTUS's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President," tweeted Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, adding, "It has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally."