New Delhi, August 5 (The Statesman/newsin.asia): In an unprecedented move, the Centre has scrapped Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which gives autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah proposed in the Rajya Sabha to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution in Jammu and Kashmir amid uproar by opposition members.
Shah said: “I am presenting the resolution to revoke Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir except the first clause 370 (1).”
President Ram Nath Kovind has signed the notification to scrap Article 370.
The Government has planned the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir as Union Territory. According to the plan, Ladakh will be a Union Territory without an Assembly but the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature.
Defending the scrapping of Article 370, Shah said that under the umbrella of Article 370, three families looted J-K for years.
The government, which listed four bills and legislative proposals before the Rajya Sabha, intends to get the resolution passed by the end of the day. The announcement comes on the backdrop of a Cabinet meeting at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg.
The high-voltage meeting was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval among other top leaders. The announcement comes on a day when former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti and Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone were placed under house arrest as restrictions were imposed across the Valley. The state administration has imposed Section 144 in Srinagar, as well as in Jammu, while mobile internet services have been snapped.
All educational institutions have been closed till further orders and all Kashmir University exams have been postponed without specifying the next date. Earlier on Sunday too, Amit Shah presided over a high-level security meeting which was attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Arvind Kumar, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Samant Kumar Goel and senior Home Ministry officials.
With dramatic security build-up across the state for the past two weeks, speculations were rife that the Centre may have plans to scrap Article 35A, which gives exclusive rights to the state’s residents in government jobs and land, or Article 370 which gives autonomous status to the state. Last week, over 28,000 additional troops of paramilitary forces were reportedly deployed in the Kashmir valley.
Repealing Article 370 and Article 35A has long been one of the core BJP promises and the demand for its abrogation had risen after the Pulwama terror attack.
Article 370 grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and limits Parliament’s power to make laws concerning the state. It was incorporated in India’s Constitution in October 1949. It also gives power to the state legislature to define Jammu and Kashmir’s residents and their privileges.
Article 35A was proclaimed by President Rajendra Prasad on 14 May 1954 on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru government to empower the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define the permanent residents of the state and their entitlements. It was drawn from the Delhi Agreement of 1952 and from Article 370 that confers special status to the state.
Consternation Among Kashmiri Leaders
The Modi government’s decision to scrap the controversial Articles 370 and 35A and split the state into two union territories has triggered jubilation in the Jammu and Ladakh regions while the Kashmiri politicians were fuming with anger and describing the step as an “aggression against the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, who are reportedly under house arrest since Sunday night, were on Monday in the forefront to warn that the step would have “catastrophic consequences”.
“It will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent. GOIs intentions are clear. They want the territory of J&K by terrorising its people. India has failed Kashmir in keeping its promises,” Mehbooba said.
In a statement, Omar said that the “Government of India’s (GOI) unilateral and shocking decisions today are a total betrayal of trust that the people of J&K had reposed in India when the state acceded to it in 1947. The decisions will have far-reaching and dangerous consequences. This is an aggression against the people of the state as had been warned by an all-parties meeting in Srinagar on Sunday.
“GoI has resorted to deceit and stealth in recent weeks to lay the ground for these disastrous decisions. Our darkest apprehensions have unfortunately come true after the GOI and its representatives in J&K lied to us that nothing major was planned. The announcement was made after the entire state, particularly the Kashmir valley, was turned into a garrison. Those of us who gave democratic voice to the people of J&K are incarcerated as lakhs of armed security personnel have been put on the ground.”
“The scrapping of Articles 370 and 35A raise fundamental questions on the state’s accession because that was done on the very terms enunciated in these articles. The decisions are unilateral, illegal and unconstitutional and will be challenged as such by the National Conference. A long and tough battle lies ahead. We are ready for that,” he added.
Reacting strongly to the centre’s announcement, Mehbooba stated; “Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy. Decision of J&K leadership to reject the 2-nation theory in 1947 & align with India has backfired. Unilateral decision of GOI to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K,” she added.
Mehbooba further went on to slam the Government. “GOIs intention is clear & sinister. They want to change the demography of the only Muslim majority state in India, disempower Muslims to the extent where they become second class citizens in their own state,” she said.
“What did J&K get for acceding to India? Another partition along communal lines? Our special status isn’t a gift bestowed upon us. It’s a right guaranteed by the same parliament. A contract entered into by J&K leadership & India. Today the very same contract has been violated,” she added.
“The way some sections of media & civil society are celebrating these developments with glee is disgusting & disconcerting,” Mehbooba added.
In a separate tweet, she said; “Once again, GOI has pushed Kashmiris to the brink. There is no other way but to oppose this illegal & unconstitutional onslaught on our dignity. Attaching an audio clip to this tweet since this is the only way to communicate”, she said.
Union territory status has been a long-standing demand of the people of Ladakh and they had organised lengthy agitations in support of this during the regime of Rajiv Gandhi.
The demand of Jammu had been to remove the Articles 370 and 35A that snatch the state’s citizenship of the women marrying outside J&K.
“Jammu and Kashmir’s relationship with the rest of India is guided by Article 370 and the State Constitution that I signed into law. Yes, it is an integral part of India, but we must realize that from the very beginning Jammu and Kashmir has been given a special position,” Singh said.
“But the fact of the matter is that there was the political Agreement in 1952, Sheikh Abdullah-Jawaharlal Agreement; there was the adoption of the State Constitution in 1957. On January 26, 1957, I signed that Constitution. Subsequently, there have been a plethora of Presidential Orders which have, gradually and gradually, applied increasingly in Entries from the Union List to the State List. So, this is a process that has been going on for a long time. Then, in 1975, there was another political Agreement between Sheikh Abdullah and Indira Gandhi and subsequently there have been many Commissions,” he said during a short discussion in Rajya Sabha.