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India's Modi Says Lifting Kashmir's Special Status Will Help End Terrorism

09 Aug 2019 Gandhara - RFE/RL

Stripping Indian-administered Kashmir of its special status will allow New Delhi to rid the region of "terrorism and separatism," the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi says, alleging that Pakistan used the past arrangement as a "weapon" against India.

Modi made the comments on August 8 in his first address to the nation since India earlier this week revoked a constitutional provision guaranteeing significant autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir state.

The decision drew an angry reaction from neighboring Pakistan, which says the move was in breach of international law.

Modi said that a "new era" was beginning for the Indian-ruled part of the Himalayan region, where "hindrances" to its development had been lifted.

He accused arch-rival Pakistan of using Kashmir's special status "as a weapon to incite people of the region against India," adding that New Delhi will now “be able to free Jammu and Kashmir from terrorism and separatism.”

Kashmir is divided between Pakistan and India but is claimed in full by the two nuclear-armed powers, which have fought two wars over the region since partition in 1947.

Tens of thousands of people have died in a three decade-old insurgency in the Indian side of the territory.

Indian-administered Kashmir has been in lockdown since late on August 4, with mobile, landline, and Internet networks cut off.

On August 5, it was announced that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution had been revoked.

The article guaranteed the region greater autonomy than any other state in Hindu-majority India, as well as special privileges in education, jobs, and property ownership.

In response, Pakistan downgraded its relations with India, expelling New Delhi’s top envoy and suspending bilateral trade and a key train service with its neighbor.

On August 8, the Pakistani federal minister for railways, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, said the so-called Friendship Express train service was being suspended.

Separately, the Pakistani government announced it was banning the screening of Indian films in the country's cinemas.

"No Indian film will be screened in any Pakistani cinema. Drama, films and Indian content of this kind will be completely banned in Pakistan," Firdous Ashiq Awan, an adviser to Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a tweet.

It is the second time this year that Pakistan has banned Bollywood movies from its cinemas.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Islamabad was "looking at political, diplomatic, and legal options" to counter India’s move.

Qureshi ruled out a military response, saying: "We are not looking at that. We are not."

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on India and Pakistan "to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir," according to his spokesman.

Guterres was "concerned over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir," and warned that such actions could "exacerbate the human rights situation in region," Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

The United States has also called for calm and restraint, saying it supports “direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern."

With reporting by AFP, AP, the BBC, and RFE/RL' Radio Mashaal

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