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BJP, rival party to form government in Indian Kashmir

25 February 2015 8:56

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An Indian official says the ruling Hindu nationalist party and another rival party will govern the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, amid ongoing violence in the disputed region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has agreed to form a coalition government with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to administer the Jammu and Kashmir State in India, BJP President Amit Shah said after meeting with the PDP’s chief, Mehbooba Mufti, in New Delhi on Tuesday.

“In a few days, Jammu and Kashmir will have a BJP and PDP alliance government… This alliance is not for power-sharing but it is to win the hearts and minds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Shah said.

Details of the coalition are expected to be announced following a meeting between Modi and regional leaders in the coming days.

In January, New Delhi took direct control of the Himalayan region after the two parties failed to agree on key issues in Kashmir following an election in December.

Dispute over Kashmir region

The PDP has long sought the removal of a controversial law that allows forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir to search, enter property and shoot people on sight. Critics say the law serves as a cover for human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, the ruling BJP said the law in Kashmir serves to stop rebels from fighting for Kashmir’s independence or for its merger with Pakistan.

New Delhi has engaged in a heavy-handed crackdown on pro-independence protests in Indian-controlled Kashmir, which has left tens of thousands dead in the Muslim-dominated region over the past 25 years.

Islamabad and New Delhi have also fought three wars, two of which were over Kashmir, since their independence from British colonial rule in 1947. The arch-rivals lay claim to the whole region but each of them only controls a section of it.

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