The Indian government has placed the volatile region of Kashmir on lockdown after deciding to remove its special status.

New Delhi has deployed at least 10,000 extra soldiers to block roads in Srinagar, the region’s main city, and enforce a newly invoked public order which bans the congregation of more than four people.

In a bid to limit the spread of news, soldiers have also cut communication lines – leaving millions without TV channels, internet, mobile services and working landline phones.

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It comes as Home Minister Amit Shah told India’s upper house of parliament that Article 370, which gives Jammu and Kashmir more autonomy than any other Indian state, will be revoked.

A cluster bomb shell is seen along a roadside in Noseri, near the line of control in Kashmir
Image:
A cluster bomb shell is seen along a roadside in Noseri, near the line of control in Kashmir

Thousands of tourists and Hindu pilgrims have been told to leave the region – many have already done so amid claims of a terror threat in the area.

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Article 370 of the Indian constitution is the basis on which the state of Kashmir joined India in 1947. It gives special status to the Himalayan region by presidential order.

It forbids Indians outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs and winning education scholarships.

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Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim the region in its entirety.

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi rejected the move to revoke Article 370, saying it violates a UN resolution.

Mr Shah said the government has also decided to split the state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which will be ruled directly by the central government.

The former chief minister of the state, Mehbooba Mufti, said the revocation of Article 370 effectively made India an occupying force there.

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Tensions have soared along the Line of Control, the volatile, highly militarised frontier that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan and India routinely blame each other for initiating border skirmishes.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were re-elected earlier this year on a platform that included promises to do away with special rights for Kashmiris under India’s constitution.
Rebels in Indian-controlled Kashmir have been fighting Indian control since 1989.

Most Kashmiris support the rebels’ demand – that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country – while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

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