Kashmir parties join forces to regain special status revoked by India
The India-controlled Kashmir’s main political parties have formed an alliance aimed at clawing back the region’s special status that New Delhi revoked last August.
“Our battle is a constitutional battle, we want the government of India to return to the people of the State [of Kashmir] the rights they held before 5th August 2019,” said Kashmir’s National Conference (NC) President Faroq Abdullah in Srinagar, the territory’s summer capital, on Thursday, India’s Asian News International news agency reported.
The Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars over its control.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government revoked the New Delhi-controlled Jammu and Kashmir’s special status last year, cracked down on opposition, and rounded up hundreds of people to forestall protests.
Back then, Modi’s government alleged that ending Kashmir’s special status was necessary for closer integration of the territory into the rest of India.
New Delhi’s approach towards the region has been criticized as being an extension of its tolerating instances of egregious discrimination and occasional deadly attacks against Muslims on the mainland.
Over the past months, however, New Delhi has been apparently softening its attitude.
On Tuesday, it ordered the release of Mehbooba Mufti, the last of the region’s political leaders, who used to be in Indian detention for 14 months. The NC president called Mufti’s long-drawn-out detention “completely illegal and unjustified.”
This August, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs also reportedly ordered the immediate withdrawal of at least 10,000 paramilitary forces that had been sent to the region to empower the crackdown.