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India scraps special status for Kashmir amid crackdown

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on August 5, 2019 - Duration: 02:18s

India scraps special status for Kashmir amid crackdown

India has revoked the special status of Kashmir, the Himalayan region that has long been a flashpoint in ties with neighbouring Pakistan, as it moves to fully integrate its only Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country.

Joe Davies reports.

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India scraps special status for Kashmir amid crackdown

This was the chaos in India's parliament after plans were revealed to revoke the special status of Kashmir.

India's Interior Minister could barely be heard, as he announced the most far-reaching move over the disputed Himalayan region in nearly seven decades.

The government of Narendra Modi says it wants to throw out the part of the constitution that allows Kashmir to make its own laws.

Its aim is to fully integrate its only Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country.

It would mean the scrapping of a rule which bans the purchase of property by people from outside the state.

The law had also reserved state government jobs and college places for residents in an effort to keep the state from being overrun by people from the rest of India.

For Kashmiri Hindus, celebration at the prospect of integration with the rest of India.

But the decision isn't popular with everyone in this Muslim-majority state.

(SOUNDBITE) (Urdu) A LOCAL RESIDENT, ZAAN MOHAMMAD, SAYING: "It was our identity, the identity of Kashmir.

Kashmir was known because of its distinctive identity which it got due to this Article (370).

So this is injustice.

We had only one thing that was saving us from the other states, it was this." With unrest expected, on Monday Kashmir was on lockdown.

Security tight, with phone lines and the internet suspended.

State leaders said on social media that they had been placed under house arrest.

(SOUNDBITE) (Hindi) INDIAN TOURIST, SUMIT, SAYING: "There's been an atmosphere of confusion since last night.

The internet was suspended and then our mobiles stopped working.

We're unable to call our families to tell them what's happened.

They must be feeling tense." Kashmir has been ruled by the Indian federal government since last year, after Modi's Hindu nationalist party withdrew from a coalition there with a regional party.

Thousands began fleeing the region on Friday (August 2) , after Indian officials issued an alert over possible militant attacks by Pakistan-based groups - assertions which Pakistan has denied.

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 its people.

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