The Medical Council of India has barred doctors with degrees from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh (PoJKL) from practising medicine in India, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. This means students who pass out from professional colleges in PoK cannot sit for the exam meant for foreigners.

In its circular issued on August 10, the council said Pakistan was illegally and forcibly occupying a portion of the territory, which is an integral part of India. “Accordingly, any medical institution in Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh (PoJKL) requires permission and recognition under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956,” reads the notice issued by Dr RK Vats, the secretary general of the board of governors. “Such permission has not been granted to any medical college in PoJKL. Therefore, any qualification obtained from medical colleges located within these illegally occupied areas of India shall not entitle a person for grant of registration.”

The move is aimed at countering Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s scholarship scheme for 1,600 students from Jammu and Kashmir every year, according to Hindustan Times. The scheme was first announced in a meeting of Pakistan National Assembly’s Standing Committee for Federal Education and Professional Training. However, this year no student has been able to go to Pakistan due to the coronavirus pandemic and the ban on international travel, according to The Indian Express.

In December, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had asked the medical council and the Ministry of External Affairs to review its stand to see if medical students in these territories could be allowed to practice. The court’s order came after a Kashmiri woman petitioned that she was not allowed to sit for the exam meant for people who studied abroad.