Indian Home Secretary Amit Shah said Monday that the federal government had revoked decades-old special laws for the disputed Kashmir region, causing an uproar in parliament. Hours earlier, Delhi had cut off internet and phone services in Kashmir, put some regional politicians under house arrest, banned public gatherings, and closed schools in a security crackdown aimed at stemming violent unrest over the news.
Shah said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government had revoked Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which allows Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir limited autonomy and legislative powers and blocks Indians outside the Himalayan state from buying land or holding local government jobs in Kashmir. Monday's presidential order says it will "come into force at once" and will "supersede the Constitution." Modi's government also introduced a law that would divide Jammu and Kashir state into two union territories, splitting off Buddhist-majority Ladakh and placing it under direct rule by Delhi.
Despite the phone and internet blackout, Kashmir's former chief minister Mehbooba Mufi tweeted that revoking Article 370 is "illegal" and "unconstitutional," adding, "Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy." Two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since independence in 1947 have been over Kashmir, a territory both nuclear-armed countries claim as part of their respective countries.