India’s government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has made a controversial move to usurp power from the nation’s only Muslim-majority state, potentially igniting unrest in one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear flashpoints.
On Monday, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah announced in Parliament that the government would scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Since 1949, that portion of the constitution has given near-autonomous authority to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), India’s side of the Pakistan-disputed Kashmir region, to conduct its own affairs. Basically, the state could mostly govern itself, except in areas like foreign policy and defense, and have its own constitution and even its own flag.
And then on Tuesday, the government turned that proposal into reality, passing the measure through both houses of Parliament. So now J&K will turn from a state to a union territory, meaning India’s central government in New Delhi will gain much more control over the area’s affairs. New Delhi is also considering splitting parts of J&K into two federal territories: the new state of Jammu and Kashmir, which will get its own legislature; and Ladakh, a remote and mountainous area that won’t get a legislature.
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