After decades of an uneasy and sometimes violent power-sharing agreement with Pakistan over the region of Kashmir, India on Monday revoked Article 370 of its constitution that allowed that agreement, paving the way to annexing the region’s Jammu and Kashmir territory.
The legislative move, which was driven by Home Minister Amit Shah, came after a weekend in which India cracked down on the territory by flooding the area with soldiers, imprisoning political leaders, and cutting off Kashmiris from internet and phone communications with the outside world.
“India has turned Kashmir into a black hole right now,” tweeted Kashmiri activist Shehla Rashid. “With normal life thrown out of gear, no clarity on the situation, no advisory/communication for local people from the government, there’s panic, speculation and rumor-mongering all around. Phones and internet are off.”
In a tweet, human rights group Amnesty International condemned the Indian government’s behavior.
“The unilateral decision by Government of India to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status without consulting Jammu and Kashmir stakeholders, amidst a clampdown on civil liberties and communications blackout,” said the group, “is likely to increase the risk of further human rights violations and inflame tensions.”
Activist Rashid told reporters she and her allies were ready to fight the move by India in the courts.
“We will challenge the presidential order in Supreme Court,” said Rashid. “I am in touch with a team of lawyers and a few activists. We will find out the best legal way to fight it this. We hope we will get justice in the Supreme Court as we are in a strong position constitutionally and legally.”
Lawmakers from India’s extreme right-wing ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were behind the parliamentary maneuver, which generated anger from the country’s opposition parties.
“Today the BJP has murdered the Constitution of India,” the Indian National Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
HuffPost India editor-in-chief Aman Sethi said in an opinion piece that he wasn’t hopeful that the opposition could make much of a dent in the political situation:
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