After weeks of protests over the transfer of land to a Hindu shrine trust, Ghulam Nabi Azad, the chief minister of the Indian-administered province of Jammu and Kashmir resigned, and now the government of the province has collapsed.
In the province, thousands of Muslims protested against the move that they called an effort to alter the region’s demographics.
The land-transfer order has been revoked on July 1 by the government. It defused tensions in Srinagar, the predominantly Muslim Kashmir’s capital, but led to more violent protests in Jammu, a Hindu-majority area.
In the protests, at least six people were killed and hundreds wounded.
And the withdrawal of support from an alliance partner also played a role.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has been prompted to withdraw support for the government on June 28, because of the land-transfer controversy. It reduced Azad’s Congress-led government to a minority.
Governor will administrate
“I do not wish to put my friends in trouble whose heart is somewhere else and their party whip is somewhere else”, Mr Azad said in state assembly, before tendering his resignation to the state governor.
For the next four months, when elections will be held, the state, in India’s northeast corner, will be administered by the governor.
His party “will not stake a claim to form the government”, said Omar Abdullah, president of the opposition National Conference.
“We need to get into campaigning mode and predicting any post-poll alliance at this point of time will be premature”, he said.
Divided between India and Pakistan, the Kashmir region is claimed by both, and in nearly two decades, it has experienced some of the largest anti-India demonstrations.
Over allegations that government forces set fire to a local Muslim shrine, thousands of protesters clashed with police on Saturday.
Police denied any involvement with the fire at the shine, which was partially damaged.