kashmir Parliament
Visitors are seen at the Parliament House in New Delhi on August 5, 2019. The Indian government on August 5 rushed through a presidential decree to scrap a special status for disputed Kashmir, hours after imposing a major security clampdown in the region. Image Credit: AFP

The Indian government on Monday rushed through a presidential decree to scrap Kashmir's special status, tightening its grip on a fractious region also claimed by Pakistan in the most significant change in seven decades to affect the Muslim-majority state.

Kashmir has been divided between Indian and Pakistan since their independence in 1947.

The reactions to the decisons came fast and furious.

Former chief minister of Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti tweeted the latest move was the "darkest day in Indian democracy".

"Decision of J&K leadership to reject 2 nation theory in 1947 & align with India has backfired. Unilateral decision of GOI to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K," the former Chief Minister tweeted.

"It will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent. GOI's intentions are clear. They want the territory of J&K by terrorising its people. India has failed Kashmir in keeping its promises," she said.

The reactions at the House of Parliament were also quite dramatic.

Registering their protest against the scrapping of Article 370, PDP MPs Mir Fayaz and Nazir Ahmed Laway on Monday tore up the Constitution in the Rajya Sabha, leading to their ouster from the House.

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu directed the marshals to remove the slogan-shouting PDP members from the Rajya Sabha. The two MPs had also protested outside Parliament prior to the start of proceedings.

Fayaz tore up his own outfit during the protest.

Omar Abdullah, Vice-President of National Conference and former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, called the move a shocking decision and a betrayal of trust and faith. He said a long and tough battle lies ahead in his statement.

Modi government has betrayed Kashmir: CPI-M

The CPI-M  accused the Modi government of striking a big blow to democracy and the Constitution by scrapping Article 370 and dismantling the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

"The people of Kashmir had acceded to India in the face of invaders from Pakistan and a solemn commitment had been made to them by the Indian State to provide them with special status and autonomy which was embodied in Article 370," a CPI-M statement said.

"The Modi government has betrayed the people of Jammu and Kashmir by going back on this commitment," the Communist Party of India-Marxist said.

The party accused the "BJP-RSS rulers" of treating Jammu and Kashmir as "occupied territory".

Trampling on the Constitution, they were converting Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh as two centrally-ruled Union Territories. "This is the biggest attack on national unity and the concept of India as a Union of States," the statement said.

Citing the major security build up ahead of the announcement, the CPI-M said: "This itself shows that the Modi government is imposing its diktats without the consent of the people... This is harmful for the unity and integrity of India."

Celebrity supporters

This is not to say, however, that there were no supporters. One of the best known defenders of the move is actor Anupam Kher, who posted: The Kashmir Solution has begun. He tweeted right after Abdullah and Mufti were put under house arrest.

His tweet was met with a huge backlash, with some - including Gulf News columnist Swati Chaturvedi - who said the comment seemed to allude to the 'final solution', or genocide. When confronted with these allegations, he wrote about the violence faced by Kashmiri pundits.

Another actor who spoke up ion defence of the dismissal of Article 370 is Paresh Rawal.

BJP leader Ram Madhav on Monday hailed the government's decision and said the martyrdom of its idealogue Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee for complete integration of the state into India has been "honoured".  

"What a glorious day. Finally the martyrdom of thousands starting with Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee for complete integration of J&K into Indian Union is being honoured and the seven decade old demand of the entire nation being realised in front of our eyes; in our lifetime. Ever imagined?" he tweeted moments after Home Minister Amit Shah made the announcement in Parliament.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is often at cross-purposes with PM Modi, extented his support for scrapping of Article 370, saying he hopes the steps will bring peace and development to the state.

"We support the government on its decisions on J&K. We hope this will bring peace and development in the state," the Aam Aadmi Party leader tweeted.

Delhi too is a Union Territory with an Assembly.

Other supporters say:

While speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Shah moved a resolution that all clauses of Article 370 will not be applicable to the state.

Supreme Court lawyer Jaiveer Shergill was quick to rebuff trolls on Twitter, saying : The debate is not whether #Article370 should stay or be abolished, it is whether BJP can abolish it without following the Constitution?"

The decision to appoint Ladakh a Union territory was also met with some positivity by Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, BJP MP from the area.