India’s decision to revoke the special status of the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir was “an internal matter,” the Maldives foreign ministry said in a brief statement on Wednesday.
“We believe that it is the right of every sovereign nation to amend their laws as required,” it added, echoing similar statements from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and UAE.
The statement has been widely reported by Indian media as a show of support for the move to repeal article 370 of the Indian constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir with autonomy over internal administration.
Along with article 35a, the provision allowed Kashmir’s residents to live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property and fundamental rights. It was able to prevent Indians from other states from buying property.
The rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party government claimed the article needed to be scrapped to put the state of Kashmir on the same footing as the rest of India, drawing accusations of seeking to change the state’s demographics by allowing non-Kashmiris to buy land there.
Kashmir remains on lockdown since Sunday after internet and phone networks were cut off.
Pakistan, which fought two wars with India over the disputed territory, has reacted by downgrading diplomatic relations and suspending bilateral trade with India.