Omar Abdullah’s National Conference challenges decision to defang Article 370 in SC

Indians watch Narendra Modi address the nation

Indians watch Narendra Modi address the nation

India's Parliament has approved the Hindu nationalist-led government's decision to revoke the special constitutional status of Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir, thrusting the disputed region wracked by insurgency into long-term uncertainty.

Shah also conveyed the government's decision to bifurcate the state into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, with and without a legislature, respectively. Currently, the effective strength of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly is 87, including four seats falling in Ladakh region.

Kashmiri leaders have labeled the changes "the darkest day" in India's democracy.

India-controlled Kashmir has been under an unprecedented security lockdown to prevent unrest as the decisions were announced.

In related developments, Pakistan has also downgraded diplomatic relations with India, suspended trade and expelled the Indian high commissioners.

"There is no constituent assembly".

Qureshi noted: "I said this was not right and Pakistan dismisses this stance". Omar Abdullah, National Conference leader, has said the presidential order would lead into unsafe consequences and apparently indicated at civil unrest that could potentially engulf the Valley.

In her petition, Bhasin said that such restrictions were curbing the rights of journalists under the provisions of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution and that people had the right to know the condition of residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

Under Article 370, the state of Jammu and Kashmir had autonomy and the Legislative Assembly was free to draft its own laws except in the areas of communication, defence, finance, and foreign affairs.

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The spokesperson affirmed that the United States administration was neither consulted nor informed by India about its decision to revoke Articles 370 and 35A from its constitution.

The relaxing of the curfew in Srinagar was temporary, officials said. The restrictions are unlikely to be lifted soon as India prepares to celebrate its Independence Day from British colonialists on August 15.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars - in 1948, 1965 and 1971 - two of them over Kashmir.

The UN secretary-general also appealed for "maximum restraint" and urged India and Pakistan "to refrain from taking steps that could affect" the regions status.

In a sign of the importance Riyadh gives to ties with India, the joint statement contained all the key elements against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism - like rejecting terrorism as an instrument of state policy, the dismantling of terrorism infrastructures, as well as avenues for funding of terrorists "from all territories against other states".

"We see a sense of calm and normalcy (in Kashmir). Ladakh will remain a Union Territory", Prime Minister Modi said. Border tensions are expected to worsen in coming weeks and months.

The Congress veteran is the latest to veer from the party line and expressed support for at least a part of the move.

"The effort should be that Jammu and Kashmir attains full statehood as soon as possible so that its people can at least enjoy the political rights available to the rest of the country", Mr Singh said.

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