India Abolishes Article 370; Kashmir’s Special Status Revoked

On Tuesday, India’s parliament passed a bill revoking Article 370 of their constitution after President Ram Nath Kovind signed a decree. The bill, expected to officially go into effect in the near future, will restrict the autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and separate the region into two union territories. The bill has been met with significant backlash from Pakistan, who also claims to own the Kashmir region, as well as Kashmir residents and nations all over the world.

Now-former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufi expressed a strong frustration with India’s decision, calling the decree “illegal” and “unconstitutional,” and stating that “today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy.” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan also criticized the decree and stated that he will be looking into lobbying the United Nations Security Council and asking the International Court of Justice to Intervene, according to a report by CNN. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters that “India is playing a very dangerous game” and also referred to the bill as illegal. He stated that Pakistan will be using diplomatic efforts to prevent the order from going into effect, according to a report by ABC News. Many protestors have also been harshly critical of the abolishment of Article 370; protestor Kavita Krishnan warned that the bill is “a prelude to destroying the constitutional rights and liberties of all Indians,” and activist Harsh Mander stated that the bill symbolized “a systematic attempt to encourage non-Muslims to settle in the valley and to buy land and have protected enclaves.” Amnesty International India warned that the decree could “cause unrest and wide-scale protests.”

Both India and Pakistan claim the Kashmir region as their own, and this decree sends a clear message that India intends to integrate the region to be completely under their power. However, this is going against the wishes of most Kashmir residents, who wish to remain independent and enjoy the autonomy that has been granted to them for over seven decades. Many regional activists are calling for the international community’s assistance in making Kashmir an independent nation, and their voices may finally be heard on an international stage as a result of the Indian government’s decision. Pakistan has supported these protestors and is calling for international intervention to address this bill, which may be necessary to resolve the situation peacefully. The Indian government has placed the region on lockdown, and protestors are continuing to rebel against the decree. This situation could quickly escalate without significant intervention by the United Nations, who should either restore Article 370 or grant Kashmiris’ wishes to become completely autonomous.

Article 370 gave autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is located in the Himalayas and has a population of about 7 million. The state includes Hindu-majority Jammu, Muslim-majority Kashmir, and Buddhist-majority Ladakh. First written in 1927, Article 370 prevented Indians from outside the state from permanently settling or buying land there. However, these protections were removed on Tuesday when India’s central government moved to abolish Article 370. Under the new bill, the state would be split into two union territories: Jammu and Kashmir, which will have their own legislature, and Ladakh, which will be completely governed by India. The decree has gathered support from Hindu nationalists, as it allows them to enter the region after over 70 years of autonomy. However, according to a report by ABC News, the majority of Kashmiris do not approve of the new bill and would prefer to either unite under Pakistani rule or become an independent country. Neighboring country Pakistan, who also claims ownership of the Kashmir region, is currently calling for international intervention to resolve the issue, and the United Nations, European Union, and other individual nations have responded to the situation by urging India and Pakistan to avoid escalation. Despite these warnings, protests are already occurring in Pakistan, India, and the Kashmir region. India sent 10,000 troops to the region last week, and announced a “major security clampdown” just hours before the decree was announced. However, violence and rebellion persist, and ABC News reported that over 70,000 people have recently been killed in the area due to rebellion and protests.

The revocation of Article 370, although applauded by its supporters, has caused major unrest and uprising in the Jammu and Kashmir state and has blatantly gone against the wishes of the state’s residents. The plan to separate the former state into two distinct union territories will severely restrict the freedom and autonomy that Kashmir residents have enjoyed for over 70 years, and requires immediate diplomatic intervention in order to prevent future violence and restore autonomy in the region.