Indian Home Minister Amit Shah confirmed Tuesday new regulations on Kashmir will ensure New Delhi takes over the two portions held respectively by Pakistan and China.
Shah asserted that India’s ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will ensure Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Aksai Chin are part of India’s Jammu and Kashmir, India Today reported.
The BJP will make sure Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority region in India, becomes an integral part of the South Asian country.
“Kashmir is an integral part of India; there is no doubt over it. When I talk about Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin are included in it,” Shah reportedly proclaimed.
Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority region. Under BJP, Muslims and Christians have faced systemic harassment at the hands of Hindu nationalists incited by the ruling party.
India, Pakistan, and China all have competing claims to the Himalayan region of Kashmir. A border known as the Line of Control (LOC) separates Indian and Pakistani Kashmir. Pakistan has ceded control to some of its territory, known as Aksai Chin, to China. India, however, disputes China’s presence on its side of the LOC.
China said it opposed India’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status and that New Delhi needed to be cautious on border issues.
Beijing has called India’s move to rescind Kashmir’s special status “not acceptable,” adding that it is not binding, India Today noted.
“India has continued to hurt Chinese sovereignty by unilaterally changing domestic law,” Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, said on Tuesday, according to the South China Morning Post.
China is “seriously concerned” about the current situation in Kashmir, Hua also said, adding:
The parties concerned should exercise restraint and act with caution, especially to avoid actions that unilaterally change the status quo and exacerbate the tension. We call on the two sides to peacefully resolve relevant disputes through dialogue and consultation and safeguard regional peace and stability.
Pakistan also expressed dismay towards the change in Kashmir’s autonomy.
“The Pakistan Army firmly stands by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end,” Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa of Pakistan added, according to Reuters. “We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfill our obligations in this regard.”
“We will fight it [Modi’s policy] at every forum. We’re thinking how we can take it to International Court [of Justice] … to the United Nations Security Council,” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan recently said.
Both China and Pakistan have separately gone to war with India over territorial disputes. China mainly stays in the shadows of the India-Pakistan Kashmir dispute, backing Islamabad’s claims.
This week, the BJP stripped Indian Kashmir of its limited autonomy, triggering anger among locals and protests.
The provisions revoked from Article 370 that does away with Kashmir’s special status also breaks up the region into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Hua, the spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, stressed that India’s claim over Ladakh, as part of Kashmir, affected Chinese lands.
“This act is not acceptable and won’t be in any sense binding,” Hua proclaimed, adding:
China always opposes India’s inclusion of Chinese territory in the western section of the China-India boundary under its administrative jurisdiction. This position is firm and consistent and has never changed. The recent unilateral revision of domestic laws by the Indian side continues to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty, which is unacceptable and will not have any effect.
She went on to urge the India “to be cautious in its words and actions on the boundary issue, strictly abide by the relevant agreements reached between the two sides and avoid any move that further complicates the boundary issue.”
Despite a 2003 ceasefire, there is a constant exchange of deadly fire between India and Pakistan along the LOC.
Echoing some human rights group, the U.N. recently blasted India for its heavy crackdown against separatists in Kashmir. India blames Pakistan of backing terrorists in Kashmir. Pakistan accuses India of mistreating residents in favor of independence or a merger with Pakistan.
Ahead of the move to change Kashmir’s special status, India deployed thousands of paramilitary troops to the region. It also suspended phone and internet services, prompting criticism the government of the world’s most populous democracy is trying to stifle all dissent.
The Indian government argues that Kashmir’s special status hindered the region’s development because it prevented people from outside the state from buying property, investing and settling there.
“We will make Jammu and Kashmir into one of our most developed states,” Shah told parliament to loud cheers from supporters.