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India's ruling party has pulled out of a coalition that runs the disputed Kashmir region due to worsening "terrorism and violence." Analysts say the move is a ploy to help the party win national elections next year.
India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) quit the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir state on Tuesday, citing a worsening security situation in the disputed Himalayan region.
The BJP, which had allied with the regional People's Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015 to rule India's only Muslim-majority state, urged a federal response to the increasing terrorism and violence in a territory that is also claimed by neighboring Pakistan.
Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav told reporters in New Delhi that the alliance had become "untenable."
He added that the state government had failed to curb radicalization or guarantee civilian rights in the volatile territory.
"Keeping in mind the larger national interest ... it is time the reins of power in the state be handed over to the governor," or direct rule from New Delhi, Madhav said.
Hours later, state chief minister and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti submitted her resignation.
There was uncertainty over whether the collapse would mean a return to federal rule, or whether the state's governor would take over until fresh elections are held or a new coalition is cobbled together.
The BJP — a Hindu nationalist party more popular in the south of the state — had 25 lawmakers, while the PDP had 28 in the state assembly, where the majority mark is 45.
The PDP is seen as a party sympathetic to separatist groups, and has long demanded the removal of a draconian law that gives Indian forces sweeping powers to search, enter property and shoot on sight.
Tuesday's move is widely seen as the BJP backpedaling over its involvement in the troubled state, which has been wracked by conflict for decades.
The decision allows the party to act tough on Kashmir before a general election next year in which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a second term in office, analysts said.
Last week, gunmen shot dead a prominent newspaper editor in the state capital, Srinagar, who had been a strong advocate of peace in the region.
The Himalayan region of Kashmir is divided into two parts, one administered by India and other by Pakistan. The two nuclear neighbors claim the region in its entirety, and have fought two wars over the disputed territory since independence from Britain in 1947.
A violent secessionist insurgency in the Indian-administered region has left more than 44,000 people dead since the late 1980s.
India blames Pakistan for fomenting the rebellion, but the Islamabad government says it only provides moral support to the insurgency.
Last week, India rejected a United Nations report accusing it having used excessive force in to kill and wound civilians in Kashmir since 2016. The UN also called for an international inquiry into accusations of rights violations.
mm/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)