The US State Department said on Monday it was closely following events in Kashmir after India said it was revoking the special status of the territory and expressed concern about reports of detentions.
“We are concerned about reports of detentions and urge respect for individual rights and discussion with those in affected communities,” the department’s spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. “We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control.”
In the meantime, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, his spokesman said on Monday, after India revoked the special status of Kashmir, the Himalayan region that has long been a flashpoint in ties with neighboring Pakistan.
“We urge all parties to exercise restraint,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters, adding that UN peacekeepers observing a ceasefire between India and Pakistan in the state of Jammu and Kashmir “has observed and reported an increase in military activity along the line of control.”
India on Monday revoked the special status of Kashmir, the Himalayan region that has long been a flashpoint in ties with neighboring Pakistan, moving to grasp its only Muslim-majority region more tightly.
In the most far-reaching political move in one of the world’s most militarized regions in nearly seven decades, India said it would scrap a constitutional provision that allows the state of Jammu and Kashmir to make its own laws.
“The entire constitution will be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir,” Interior Minister Amit Shah told parliament, as opposition lawmakers voiced loud protests against the repeal.
The government also lifted a ban on property purchases by non-residents, opening the way for Indians to invest and settle there, just as they can elsewhere in India. The measure is likely to provoke a backlash in the region.
Pakistan said it strongly condemned the decision, which is bound to further strain ties between the nuclear-armed rivals.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said the move “was in clear violation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions” in the region, according to a statement released after a telephone call with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday evening.
“As the party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps,” its foreign ministry said in a statement.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, where a nearly 30-year armed revolt has killed tens of thousands of people. Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops have been deployed to quell it.
India blames that rebellion on Pakistan, which denies the accusation, saying that it backs the right to self-determination for Kashmir.
Hours earlier the Indian government launched a security crackdown in the region, arresting local leaders, suspending telephone and internet services, and restricting public movement in the main city of Srinagar.