India’s Hindu nationalist-led government introduced a measure in parliament on Monday to revoke the special constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, the most far-reaching move on the disputed Himalayan region in nearly seven decades.
Home Minister Amit Shah urged members of parliament to discuss the legislation that seeks to end autonomous status for Muslim-majority Kashmir, which allows only residents to buy property and hold state government jobs.
The government has also decided to bifurcate the state into two Union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which will be without a legislature.
Shah’s announcement was immediately followed by massive uproar in the Upper House with opposition MPs protesting in the Well of the House. Back in the Valley, three of Jammu and Kashmir’s most prominent politicians — Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Sajjad Lone are under house arrest amid a massive security-built up in the state. Internet services and mobile services have been suspended in several places and all public gatherings are banned in Srinagar district as section 144 was imposed from midnight.