SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

Political parties of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir have vowed to continue efforts to undo New Delhi’s “grossly unconstitutional” move to scrap the disputed region’s special autonomous status.

India’s unacceptable steps are measures of disempowerment and a challenge to the basic identity of the region’s people, read a joint statement issued on Saturday by leaders of major parties, including the National Conference, Congress, and the People’s Democratic Party.

“Our political activities will be subservient to the sacred goal of reverting to the status of the region as it existed on Aug. 4, 2019,” the statement said.

India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status on Aug. 5 last year and split it into two federally administered territories, a move vehemently opposed by citizens and political forces.

“We are committed to strive for the restoration of Articles 370 and 35A, the Constitution of the region and the restoration of the State and any division of the State is unacceptable to us,” said the top Kashmiri leaders, who included former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

“We unanimously reiterate that there can be nothing about us without us.”

They slammed India’s steps to “silence and coerce” the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The measures attempt to redefine who we are. These changes were accompanied by repressive measures meant to silence people and coerce them into submission, and continue unabated,” the statement added.

“There is unanimity amongst us that collective institution is the effective way to fight for these rights and tirelessly struggle to get back the special status and restore the Constitutional guarantees forcibly taken away, against our will.”

Disputed region

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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