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.
Home Minister Amit Shah told parliament on Monday that the president had signed a decree abolishing Article 370 of the constitution that gave a measure of autonomy to the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.
…Regional parties in Jammu and Kashmir had earlier called attempts to revoke Article 370 an aggression against the 7 million people living in the disputed region.
The law dates to 1927, when an order by the administration of the-then princely state of Jammu and Kashmir gave the state’s subjects exclusive hereditary rights.
Two months after India won independence from the British rule in August 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, signed a Treaty of Accession for the state to join the rest of the union, formalised in Article 370 of the Indian constitution.
Further discussions culminated in the 1952 Delhi Agreement, a presidential order that extended Indian citizenship to the residents of the state but left the maharaja’s privileges for residents intact.
…Critics of such a measure say that in doing away with Article 370, the government hopes to change India-administered Kashmir’s Muslim-majority demographics by allowing in a flood of new Hindu residents.
Shah said the government also decided to split the state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which will be ruled directly by the central government without a legislature of its own.
…On Sunday, parts of India-administered Kashmir were placed under lockdown and local politicians reportedly arrested amid growing tensions following a massive deployment of troops by the Indian government.
…The measures came after the Indian government moved about 10,000 troops to the region last week, followed by an unprecedented order asking tourists and Hindu pilgrims to leave the Himalayan valley.