What is Article 370?: The 370 article granted and gave a special status and treatment to Jammu & Kashmir and its citizens, and a partial autonomy to the state. The partial autonomy included having its own constitution, a separate flag and the freedom to make laws. However, the foreign affairs, defence and communications remained the preserve of the central government.
History of Article 370: After the accession signed by King Hari Singh with Government of India, Kashmir became an integral part of India. But, Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India, took the issue to the UN when Indian army was already in place in Jammu and Kashmir. King, Hari Singh didn’t ask for plebiscite. Lord Mountbatten offered it to him for absolutely no reason. This was a sinister plan to keep a fire burning and that fire burned for severn long decades by killing thousands of innocents. Lord Mountbatten had no legal right to offer right to decide to the people of Kashmir. Plebiscite was an extra constitutional. If it was constitutional, every one of the 550 erstwhile states would have asked for freedom to decide their own path, which was not the case.
Two years after the state of Jammu and Kashmir had acceded to India, article 370 was incorporated in the Constitution in 1949 that was opposed by several political leaders including congress ministers Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, law minister and Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Home Minister. But, with Nehru’s blessings, it was signed between Hari Singh and Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India.
Preparations for revocation: Modi government has been meticulously planning for this historic move since last few years. In Feb 2019, the Jammu and Kashmir law was amended to incorporate SC/ST reservation. Additionally, as per the new amendment, the state governor who could exercise the powers of the elected government in absence of state assembly and an elected government in the state. By ignoring this point, few journalists are creating a confusion among its readers about the validity of the decision.
Days before India decided to scrap article 370 that grants special status to Kashmir, the central government planned for an indefinite lockdown and massive troop deployment in the disputed region.
Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah, popularly known as modern chanakya, told parliament on Monday that the president had signed a decree abolishing Article 370 of the constitution, stripping the significant autonomy Kashmir had for seven decades.
Major General GD Bakshi says, “The move in J & K has been very proactive and preemptive. With the Americans wanting to get out of Afghanistan regardless of any costs and consequences for India we need to anticipate Pakistan will certainly divert Afghan Taliban cadres for Kashmir. With that scenario in mind this has been a very sensible and timely decision for which the Government needs to be congratulated.”
Impacts on People and India
1. Integration with India: The most controversial part of article 370 was article 35A that prevented non-permanent residents of J&K from permanently settling in the state. It also prevented non-permanent residents of J & K buying immovable property, acquiring land, applying for government jobs or any kind of scholarships, aids as well as other public welfare projects, which was exclusively reserved for Kashmiri people.
Indians from other state can now come and settle down in the valley without any restrictions.
2. Greater Freedom: The people of J&K will lose their permanent resident certificate and will become a general citizen of India. However, the Permanent Residents Law had many restrictions including barring a Kashmiri woman from any property rights if she marries a person from outside the state. This restriction was extended to her children to have any succession rights over the property. Now the new law will offer more freedom to Kashmiri women.
3. One constitution: Jammu and Kashmir will no longer have a separate constitution but will have to abide by the Indian constitution much like any other state.
All Indian laws will be automatically applicable to Kashmiris, and the people from outside the state living in the region.
This will simplify the judiciary system further.
4. Increased Business Opportunities: Indian as well as multinational business houses can set up their businesses in the region by giving an equal job opportunity to an Indian from any part of India.
New business can potentially boost the local businesses and increase the job opportunities in the region in absence of 35A. Former Finance Minister, Mr Arun Jaitley mentioned in this blog that “No investor is willing to set up an industry, hotel, private educational institutions or private hospitals since he can neither buy land or property nor can his executives do so. Their ward cannot get government jobs or admission to colleges. Today, there are no major national or international chains which have set up hotel in a tourism-centric State. This prevents enrichment, resource generation and job creation.”
The major boost can be expected in the area of real estate, tourism, textile and food processing.
5. Improved security: After demise of 370, the region will now be directly controlled by police and army, which will function under central government of India (a similar to Delhi government) with limited power. By revoking Article 370 to create J & K, a new union territories will allow the Centre to declare emergency in the region except in case of a war. This is important, as the Union Government needed the concurrence of state government to even declare a financial emergency in the state under Article 360.
A separate Union Territory for Jammu and Kashmir is being created that will function directly under central government. Thus, central government can have better control over internal security situation in the region that was subject to the cross border terrorism.
6. Change in legislative power: In future, J & K Assembly can not clear any bill on its own as it will require central government’s node to do so. In the absence of an elected government in the state, the state governor shall exercise the powers of the elected government. This was clause was introduced in Feb 2019 and the same was exercised to remove the article 370 yesterday.
7. Demographic diversity: This change will bring more cultural and religious diversity that could resonate with rest of the India.
Considering above points, we expect positive changes