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J&K and Ladakh divide: Area still under our actual control: China

Top Story

November 1, 2019

HELD SRINAGAR/ISLAMABAD/BEIJING: Shops and offices were shut and the streets largely deserted in the Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK) on Thursday, as the federal authorities formally revoked the restive state’s constitutional autonomy and split it into two federal territories.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision in August to change the IOK’s status and tighten its grip on the region has stoked anger and resentment. Just after midnight on Wednesday, the federal government’s order went into effect, dividing up the old state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories — one Jammu and Kashmir, and the other the Buddhist-dominated high altitude region of Ladakh. Both will be directly ruled by New Delhi.

New administrators were sworn into office in the biggest restructuring of the 173-year-old former princely kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir. "The unfulfilled dream of integrating Jammu and Kashmir has been accomplished," said Home Minister Amit Shah, who is leading the political strategy to deal with Kashmir.

The Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) in a statement issued in New Delhi termed as shameful the decision to formally declare separation of Ladakh from Jammu and Kashmir with effect from today. It said the territory was divided without taking the opinion of its citizens and reiterated its strong opposition to the abrogation of Article 370.

On Thursday, there was little traffic on the streets of Srinagar, the main city, except for children going to school to complete hastily arranged exams. Many children have been kept out of school since the August clampdown. Shops were shut as a mark of opposition against Kashmir's new status.

Authorities deployed additional paramilitary forces in parts of Srinagar where small protests have erupted in the past since the August 5 announcement of the change of status. Still, there were 20 small incidents of stone-pelting reported from Srinagar and other parts of the Kashmir Valley on Wednesday, a state police official said.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said the federal government must engage with Kashmiris before they become even more alienated. "GOI [government of India] has left Kashmiris in the lurch & shown disregard for their rights. But if you consider them as your own, reach out & engage with them before it’s too late," she said in a post on Twitter, which is being handled by her daughter Iltija.

Meanwhile, reacting to the development, China Thursday said the bifurcation of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) into two Union territories was unlawful, void and ineffective and will not change the fact that the area was under its actual control. Speaking to the media in Beijing, China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Kashmir was a dispute left from history that should be peacefully resolved.

“The Indian government officially announced the establishment of so-called Jammu Kashmir territory and Ladakh Union territory, which included some of China’s territory into its administrative jurisdiction,” Geng said.

“China deplores and firmly opposed that. India unilaterally changes its domestic law and administrative divisions, challenging China’s sovereignty and interests. This is awful and void, and this is not effective in any way and will not change the fact that the area is under China’s actual control,” he added.

Rejecting the division, the Foreign Office of Pakistan said changing status quo in the IOK was in complete violation of the UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements signed between India and Pakistan, especially the Simla Agreement.

“The Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir is an internationally recognized disputed territory. No step by the government of India can change this. These changes are illegal and void as per the relevant UNSC resolutions, and do not prejudice the right to self-determination of the people of Occupied Jammu & Kashmir,” it said in a statement.

Even as IOJK nears a hundred days of enforced clampdown, Pakistan stressed that it would continue to extend its full moral, political and diplomatic support to the suffering Kashmiri brothers and sisters until realization of the inalienable right to self-determination in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

“The illegal and unilateral changes effected by India are in no way an ‘internal matter’ as the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains on the agenda of the Security Council. Furthermore, contrary to the false projection by the Indian authorities, the purpose of these illegal changes in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir is neither development of the region nor welfare of the Kashmiri people,” it said.

The real motive is to alter the demographic structure of the Muslim majority state in pursuance of the extremist “Hindutva” ideology.

The international community must take notice that transfer of civilian population from outside into IOJ&K is in grave violation of the international laws particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Pakistan once again stressed that the measures announced by India on 5 August 2019 were forced upon the people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir through the barrel of gun by turning the region into a prison by over 900,000 Indian security forces. Political leaders, civil society members, and common people including women and young children remain under illegal detention.

“An iron curtain remains in place on more than 8 million Kashmiri people snapping their communications with the outside world. Curfew remains imposed and movement of people restricted. Many people, especially women and children, are being continuously abused and tortured by Indian occupation forces,” it said. “The people of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir will never accept the illegal and forceful occupation. The illegal unilateral actions taken by India would only further aggravate the human rights situation in the IOJ&K and threaten to destabilize the peace, security and stability of the South Asian region as well as the world.

“India should stop brutalizing the innocent Kashmiris who are suffering under its illegal occupation for the last seven decades. India should immediately withdraw its military forces from the region, remove draconian laws, restore basic human rights of the people, free all detainees, lift all restrictions on the free movement and communications, allow unimpeded and full access to the UN and other international human rights observers, including independent foreign media”, it further added.

Reacting to China’s objection, India said the reorganisation was entirely its internal affair and it did not expect other countries to comment on such matters. India claimed that China continues to be in occupation of a large tract of area in the so-called Union Territories of IOK and Ladakh. "It has also illegally acquired Indian territories from Azad Kashmir under the so-called China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963," a statement quoted Indian ministry of external affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar as saying.

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