Amit Shah greets the media upon his arrival at the parliament in New Delhi on Monday. Reuters
• J&K to be carved into two Union Territories
• Former CMs Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti placed under house arrest
• ‘Darkest day in Indian democracy,’ says Mehbooba
• Additional 8,000 troops deployed in Kashmir Valley
India's government on Monday revoked the special status of Kashmir in a bid to fully integrate its only Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country, the most far-reaching move on the troubled Himalayan territory in nearly seven decades.
Interior Minister Amit Shah told parliament the federal government would scrap Article 370, a constitutional provision that grants special status for disputed Kashmir and allows the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to make its own laws.
In a separate statement, Shah said the government had proposed to reorganise Jammu and Kashmir carving out two separate Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
He said this had been done in view of constant threats of cross-border terrorism.
In the wake of the move, an additional 8,000 CRPF troops were deployed in the Valley, according to reports in a section of the media.
"The entire constitution will be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir state.
Monday's announcement came hours after authorities launched a clampdown in Kashmir by suspending telephone services and placing state leaders under house arrest.
According to a news channel report, three of Jammu and Kashmir's most prominent politicians – Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Sajjad Lone – were put under house arrest late on Sunday night amid a massive security buildup in the state.
"The entire constitution will be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir state," Shah said, ending the state's rights to make its own laws. In a subsequent order, India's president approved the government's changes.
The step would also mean revocation of a bar on property purchases by people from outside the state. Such plans have in the past provoked warnings of a backlash in Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.
The law had also reserved state government jobs for residents and college places, in an effort to keep the state from being overrun by people from the rest of India.
The Union Territory of Ladakh was a long pending demand of the people of the region and the decision was aimed at fulfilling the aspirations of the local population, the Minister said.
Two members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nazeer Ahmed Laway and Mir Mohammad Fayaz, were shunted out of the Rajya Sabha after they removed copies of the Constitution.
"Decision of J&K leadership to reject 2 nation theory in 1947 & align with India has backfired. Unilateral decision of GOI to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K.
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti described the decision to scrap Article 370 as "the darkest day in Indian democracy.”
"Decision of J&K leadership to reject 2 nation theory in 1947 & align with India has backfired. Unilateral decision of GOI to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K," the former Chief Minister tweeted.
"It will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent. GOI's intentions are clear. They want the territory of J&K by terrorising its people. India has failed Kashmir in keeping its promises," she said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling party had pushed for an end to Kashmir's special constitutional status, arguing that such laws had hindered its integration with the rest of India.
Political leaders in Kashmir had warned that repeal of the law would trigger widespread unrest.
Since last year, Kashmir has been ruled by the Indian federal government, after Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew from a coalition there with a regional party.
On Sunday, a meeting of regional parties had vowed to safeguard the region's special status, saying any move to scrap the privilege would amount to aggression against the people of the state.
Tension had risen since Friday, when Indian officials issued an alert over possible militant attacks by Pakistan-based groups.
Pakistan has rejected those assertions, but thousands of alarmed Indian tourists, pilgrims and workers streamed out of the region over the weekend.
India's decision to strip Kashmir of the special autonomy it has enjoyed for seven decades has also prompted condemnation on Pakistani Twitter, where at one point the top six trending hashtags all related to the move.
His reaction came after the Indian government earlier in the day decided to revoke Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir and split the state into two Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh without one.
The Pakistani national anthem and an anthem for Kashmir played across television and radio, while traffic came to a standstill, traffic lights were switched off and trains stopped,
The call to join protests on Friday repeated earlier demands from Khan for Pakistanis to begin holding weekly nationwide rallies until the prime minister departs for the United Nations General Assembly next month, where he vowed to act as an ambassador for all Kashmiris.
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