India's government revoked disputed Kashmir's special status with a presidential order Monday as thousands of newly deployed troops arrived and internet and phone services were cut in the restive Himalayan region where most people oppose Indian rule. Home Minister Amit Shah announced the revocation amid an uproar in India's Parliament and while Kashmir was under a security lockdown that kept thousands of people inside their homes. The order revokes Article 370 of India's Constitution, which the AP reports gives the state of Jammu and Kashmir its own constitution and decision-making rights for all matters except for defense, communications, and foreign affairs. The article also forbids Indians outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs, and securing educational scholarships.
Critics of India's Hindu nationalist-led government see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers. The announcement came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi convened a Cabinet meeting and the government's top-decision making body on security matters, the Cabinet Committee on Security, which he heads. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and both claim the region in its entirety. Two of the three wars India and Pakistan have fought since their independence from British rule were over Kashmir. Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, told a Pakistani TV station that Pakistan will step up diplomatic efforts to prevent the order from taking effect. "India is playing a very dangerous game by changing the status of Kashmir through illegal acts," he said.
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