India scraps special status for Kashmir
Pakistan's Parliament will hold a special joint session Tuesday to discuss India's decision on Kashmir and "rising tensions along the line of control," according to a presidential decree from Pakistani President Arif Alvi.
The session is scheduled to begin at 11am local time (2aET).
A bill to reorganize and reclassify the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been approved by the Rajya Sabah -- the upper house of India's parliament -- with 125 votes in favor and 61 against.
It sets out to change Jammu and Kashmir's classification from a state to what in the Indian constitutional system is called a union territory, and carve off an area called Ladakh into a separate union territory.
The Rajya Sabha has a total of 242 members. One member abstained, while the rest were either not present or walked out in protest.
The bill now needs to be passed by the Lok Sabha -- the lower house of parliament -- and later signed by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.
If approved it would give the government in Delhi greater authority over the region.
The bill is separate to scrapping Article 370 -- which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir -- as that move was authorized earlier Monday by a presidential order.
India’s Home Minister Amit Shah has tweeted that the Indian government has "corrected a long overdue historic wrong."
"I congratulate PM Narendra Modi for his unwavering commitment towards ensuring unity & integrity of our motherland," Shah said.
Shah added in a separate tweet: "Kashmir has always been an integral part of India but this decision will ensure that there will no more be दो निशान-दो सविंधान [Two places, two constitutions] in J&K."
A number prominent Kashmiri politicians were reported to have been placed under house arrest ahead of India’s announcement Monday. Among them were at least two former chief ministers, according to CNN affiliate CNN News 18.
Here is a look at three of the most prominent figures reported to be under house arrest:
Born in Essex, England on March 10, 1970, Omar Abdullah is the scion of one of Jammu and Kashmir state’s most prominent political families. He is the grandson of Sheikh Abdullah and the son of Farooq Abdullah, both of whom have held the position of chief minister. His mother is English. In 2009, Omar Abdullah became the 11th and youngest chief minister of the state after forming a coalition with the then-ruling Congress party.
Jammu and Kashmir’s first female chief minister Mehbooba Mufti also hails from a political family. Born on May 22, 1959, she is the daughter of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, a former chief minister himself and the founder of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). She took over as chief minister after her father died in office in 2016. She entered a coalition government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but resigned in June 2018 after the BJP withdrew from the coalition.
Sajjad Ghani Lone
Sajjad Ghani Lone was born on December 9, 1966 in Handwara, Jammu and Kashmir. His father was the separatist leader Abdul Ghani Lone, founder of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference and senior leader of the separatist Hurriyat Conference alliance. Abdul was shot dead in 2002 during a rally in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir. Sajjad succeeded his father as the party’s chairman and was elected as a member of the legislative assembly in 2014.
India's announcement on Kashmir will add further fuel to tensions that have been simmering for years.
Relations between India and Pakistan hit rock bottom in mid-February when a car bomb attack killed 40 Indian paramilitary members in southern Kashmir. It was the deadliest ever attack on Indian forces in the region.
Delhi accused Pakistan of having a "direct hand" in the bombing, and responded by sending fighter jets across the Line of Control (LoC) -- separating Indian- and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir -- to strike inside Pakistani territory for the first time in nearly five decades.
India said it was targeting a training camp run by the group behind the attack, an account Pakistan disputed. Islamabad also denied any role in the car bombing.
Next came an aerial skirmish between the two sides, during which an Indian pilot was shot down and captured by Pakistan. The pilot was released within days, helping to reduce hostilities, though locals living near the LoC told CNN in April that the two sides continued to fire artillery shells across the line.
The conflict was also a major campaign issue during India's national elections in mid-April, with nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his allies holding up the February standoff as proof that he's strong on defense -- stronger, they insist, than his predecessors and rivals.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has spoken to his Malaysian equivalent amid the growing tensions around Kashmir.
Khan said that "India’s announcement regarding the status of the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir was in clear violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions," according to a press release from his office.
Khan also emphasized that "this illegal move by India would deteriorate the peace and security of the region and would further undermine the relations between two neighbors with strategic capabilities."
In response to the briefing, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that Malaysia was monitoring the developments and "would remain in touch."
Amid the furore over India's plan to rework how Indian-controlled Kashmir is administered, Arun Jaitley, a senior leader of the ruling BJP party, posted a series of tweets justifying the move.
Jaitley said, "What was a temporary and transient provision cannot be treated as permanent. It had to go."
The former Finance Minister also praised Modi for "correcting a historical blunder."
Earlier, Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal shared his support for the decision on Twitter.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister tweeted Monday that the country will take up the issue with the United States who has a delegation visiting Pakistan this week.
Amnesty International India criticized India's move to revoke the special status on Jammu and Kashmir state on Monday.
In a statement the human rights organization warned that the Indian government's unilateral decision to revoke the status without consulting stakeholders in the territory "is likely to inflame prevailing tensions, alienate the people in the state and increase the risk of further human rights violations."
Amnesty said that a blackout of telecommunications was "not in line with international human rights standards."
"These shutdowns affect the ability of people in Kashmir to seek, receive, and impart information, which is an integral part of the right to freedom of expression. These blackouts also impede the ability of friends and relatives to reach out and inform about their safety further increasing tensions and feelings of insecurity," the statement said.