An indefinite military-enforced lockdown is in effect in Indian-administered Kashmir alongside a blackout on Internet and telephone networks, and several prominent regional politicians were placed under house arrest as the Indian government moved yesterday to strike down Article 370 of the nation’s constitution. Article 370 granted the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir autonomy and a separate set of laws from the rest of India.
Indian Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah announced yesterday that the article had been revoked by presidential decree in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India’s parliament, and proceeded to introduce a bill that would revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s status as a state in favor of splitting the state into two union territories administered directly by the central government.
Despite immediate protest from opposition members, including two Kashmiri People’s Democratic Party members tearing up copies of the Indian Constitution, the Rajya Sabha passed the bill within an hour of Amit Shah formally introducing it. The Lok Sabha, or the lower house of India’s Parliament, approved the bill and also approved a resolution revoking Article 370 by overwhelming majorities.
Under the changes, Jammu and Kashmir will now be subject to the laws of the Indian Constitution and Indian citizens will have the right to own land in the territory.
Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi spoke up in favor, saying the moves “rectify the historical blunder of Jawaharlal Nehru,” India’s first Prime Minister, who was partially responsible for the region’s constitutionally guaranteed autonomy, but Jammu and Kashmir’s former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, speaking via Twitter under house arrest, has said the measure “will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent” and that “India has failed Kashmir in keeping its promises.”
Kashmiri-Americans, alongside social justice organizations, are demonstrating against the measure from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. today in front of the Indian Consulate in Chicago.
Dr. Mohamad Junaid, assistant professor of sociology, anthropology, and social work at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, joins the show to discuss the measures and what they could mean for the political future of Indian-occupied Kashmir and the Indian state as a whole. He studies and has written extensively on political violence and resistance movements in Kashmir.