The Indian 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.
The decision will mean revocation of a bar on property purchases by people from outside the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and mean that state government jobs and some college places will no longer be reserved for state residents.
Here are some facts about the region and the constitutional change.
After partition of the subcontinent in 1947, Kashmir was expected to go to Pakistan, as other Muslim majority regions did. Its Hindu ruler wanted to stay independent but, faced with an invasion by Muslim tribesmen from Pakistan, acceded to India in October 1947 in return for help against the invaders.
This provision of the Indian constitution which provided for Jammu & Kashmir’s autonomy was drafted in 1947 by the then prime minister of the state, Sheikh Abdullah, and accepted by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It was, though, only classified as a temporary provision and in October 1949 was included in the Indian constitution by the constituent assembly.
This was added to the constitution in 1954 under Article 370, and empowers the Jammu & Kashmir state parliament to provide special rights and privileges to permanent residents of the state. It will die with the repeal of 370, which means that outsiders will likely be allowed to buy property in the region and state residents will likely lose their control of state government jobs and college places.
The dispute over the former princely state sparked the first two of three wars between India and Pakistan after independence 1947. They fought the second in 1965, and a third, largely over what become Bangladesh, in 1971.
A U.N.-monitored ceasefire line agreed in 1972, called the Line of Control (LOC), splits Kashmir into two areas – one administered by India, one by Pakistan. Their armies have for decades faced off over the LOC. In 1999, the two were involved in a battle along the LOC that some analysts called an undeclared war. Their forces exchanged regular gunfire over the LOC until a truce in late 2003, which has largely held since.
Governed as the northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir. It has two capitals, Jammu in winter (November-April), Srinagar in summer (May-October).
New Delhi claims the whole of Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India.
Consists of the smaller Azad Kashmir (“Free Kashmir”) and the Northern Areas, which also formed part of the state before independence. Pakistan says a U.N.-mandated referendum should take place to settle the dispute over the region, expecting that the majority of Kashmiris would opt to join Pakistan.
Parts of Kashmir are strikingly beautiful with forest-clad mountains, rivers running through lush valleys and lakes ringed by willow trees. The western Himalayan region is bounded by Pakistan to the west, Afghanistan to the northwest, China to the northeast, and India to the south.
About 80 percent agriculture-based. Crops include rice, maize, apples and saffron. The area is also known for handicrafts such as carpets, woodcarving, woolens and silk. Tourism, once flourishing, has been badly hit by the conflict. (Reuters)
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