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Iranian Cleric Urges India Not to Deal Harshly with Muslims

Tehran’s provisional Friday Prayers leader called on the Indian government to avoid crushing Muslims in the disputed Kashmir region after New Delhi stripped India-administered Kashmir of special constitutional status.

“The Indian government should seriously avoid dealing with Muslims harshly because it is neither in its interest nor the region’s,” Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani said, addressing worshippers in Tehran on Friday.

His comments came after the Indian government revoked the special status of India-administered Kashmir, in a move that risks fueling already heightened tensions with neighboring Pakistan.

Monday’s presidential decree revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution that guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including its right to its own constitution and decision-making process for all matters except defense, communications and foreign affairs.

In the lead-up to its move, India sent thousands of additional troops to the region, imposing a curfew on parts of it, shutting down telecommunications and arresting political leaders.

Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir in full, but rule it in part. The two neighbors have fought two of their three wars over the disputed territory.

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