While India was part of the British Empire, Jammu and Kashmir was one of the many princely states that made up the colonial territory.
…Singh, a Hindu ruler of a Muslim-majority state, initially desired that the Jammu and Kashmir become an independent neutral region between India and the new nation of Pakistan. However, an uprising in the state’s western region, aided by Pakistani raiders and primarily targeting Singh, forced him to cede sovereignty to India in exchange for military aid.
…As a concession to Kashmiris who bristled under Indian rule, this article exempted Jammu and Kashmir from the rest of the Indian Constitution, established the state’s own Constitution, forbade outsiders from buying property in the region, exempted the state from laws passed by the Indian Parliament, and allowed the state to create its own laws except those regarding foreign policy, defense, and communications.
…India has interfered with the state’s politics from the very first day. The provisions of Article 370 were meant to be applied to Jammu and Kashmir by an established constituent assembly—and the constituent assembly was dissolved in 1957, leaving the institutional framework for the law uncertain.
…The state also became the site of several clashes during India’s multiple wars with both Pakistan and China, as all these countries attempted to grab more Kashmiri land for themselves. Part of what spurred this desire for Kashmiri territory is the water: The Indus river system is split between India and Pakistan, and the water supply’s availability is incredibly important to both countries.
…India often shut down telecommunications within the region and plunged it into darkness much as it’s doing right now. Some militant groups carried out terrorist attacks in India, including the 2001 Parliament shooting and the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
…With this move, more than just reinforcing its control of Kashmir, the Indian government now seems to be working toward totally reshaping the state in its own self-glorious vision by taking away the self-determination of its citizens.
Indian-administered Kashmir has been on lockdown since the Indian government decided on Monday to strip the region of its special constitutional status.
Phone networks and the internet have been cut off since Sunday evening.
Tens of thousands of troops have been patrolling the streets.
Instances of protest and stone-throwing have been reported, despite the communications blackout and a curfew.
Kashmiris in other parts of the country said that they were unable to get through to their families. Local leaders have also been detained.
…Pakistan is suspending all trade between the two countries.
It is expelling India’s high commissioner (the equivalent of an ambassador) from Islamabad. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s newly-appointed envoy, Moin-ul-Haq, was yet to start his role but now will not move to Delhi.
…Many Kashmiris think revoking Article 370 is an attempt to change the territory’s demographic character, by allowing non-Kashmiris to buy land there. Before now, Indians from outside the state could be barred from settling or buying property.
While the current insurgency began in 1989, violence surged again in 2016, with the death of a young militant leader, Burhan Wani. Last year, more than 500 people were killed – including civilians, security forces and militants – the highest such toll in a decade.
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Beijing and the Chinese army have issued stern warnings about the unrest.
Two months of demonstrations sparked by a controversial extradition bill show no signs of abating, with both sides hardening their stance.
Although the government has now suspended the bill, which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, demonstrators want the bill fully withdrawn.
Their demands have broadened to include calls for more democracy and for Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam to resign.
…Saturday’s march comes after a group of civil servants – ordered to be politically neutral – joined demonstrations in their thousands on Friday.
The rally followed the publication of an anonymous letter on Facebook complaining about “extreme oppression” and listing five key demands – the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill; waiving charges against those arrested; an end to descriptions of protests as “rioting”; an independent inquiry into the unrest; and resuming political reforms.
…More than 40 activists appeared in court on Wednesday, charged with rioting after protests last Sunday turned violent.
They could face up to 10 years behind bars if convicted.
Tensions rose further when the military – which has not yet intervened in the unrest – posted a video on social media network Weibo showing soldiers conducting anti-riot drills.