On August 5, 2019, the Centre scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution and decided to bifurcate the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The issue is as old as the Indian republic itself and has to do with the process through which erstwhile British dominions and those ruled by dependent princely states coalesced to become part of independent India.
The then ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, decided to join the Indian republic in October 1947 only after his state came under attack from local Pakistani militias who were said to have been aided by regular Pakistani soldiers. New Delhi sent the Indian Army in and the fighting stopped with a UN-brokered ceasefire in January 1949. However, a part of Kashmir passed under the effective control of Pakistan while the Valley and Jammu remained with India.
As part of the accession, there was an understanding that a plebiscite or referendum would be held in Kashmir so that the people of the state could have a say regarding the question of statehood. However, to hold such a plebiscite in a peaceful and free and fair manner would have required the withdrawal of all armed forces from the state. However, Pakistan and India could not come to a consensus on that topic and the issue of plebiscite eventually was obscured by other political developments, not least of which were the multiple wars that India and Pakistan fought down the years.
Against such a backdrop, given that the question was notionally kept open on the status of Jammu and Kashmir as a state of independent India, the state was given a special status under Article 370 of the Constitution.
Under Art.370, J&K had a constitution of its own and barring the subjects of defence, foreign affairs, and communications, the Indian Parliament could not make any laws for the state without the concurrence of the legislative assembly of J&K.
J&K had, therefore, enacted its own Constitution, which had come into force on January 26, 1957. However, Art.370 was a “temporary provision”, the idea being that it would only stand until a decision on the final status of its statehood was taken.WHY WAS IT REPEALED?
The removal of the special status of J&K was a poll promise of the BJP. On August 5, 2019, the Centre used a provision within Art.370 itself to abrogate it. According to a US Library of Congress blog, the President of India issued the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019, on that day stating “all the provisions of the Constitution, as amended from time to time, shall apply in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir.” The order also said it will “supersede the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954,” effectively abrogating article 35A as well. Article 35A gave the J&K legislature the power to decide who was a permanent resident of the state.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE REPEAL OF ART.370?
The move to abrogate Art.370 was accompanied by a suspension of phone and internet services in Kashmir while leaders of several political parties, including the likes of National Conference (NC) leaders Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti were put under house arrest. Mobile phone, telephone and internet services were slowly restored in the state with 4G internet finally returning in February this year.
The split of the state was effected on October 31, 2020, with the UT of J&K having a legislative assembly while the UT of Ladakh had no legislative assembly.
On October 15, 2020, leaders of NC, PDP, CPI, CPM and local parties PC, JKPM, and ANC formed what is known as the Gupkar alliance with a target of securing the restoration of Article 370.These parties would fight in the first electoral exercise — the District Development Council (DDC) polls held in December 2020 — in the UT following the abrogation of its special status. The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) as the grouping was called, won big in the polls while BJP emerged as the party with the largest vote share.
After the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, there was a radical change in the atmosphere.Although the entire Kashmir remained closed for a long time even after the abolition of Article 370, but gradually the life of the local people has started coming back on track. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called all the stakeholders to Delhi and talked. At the same time, the Delimitation Commission has started work in Jammu and Kashmir, after whose report the prospects of elections will start in J&K.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the elections to the Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) of Ladakh. BJP has won 15 seats here. At the same time, 9 seats came in the account of Congress. On the other hand, independent candidates had won two seats. Elections were held on 26 seats of LAHDC in which BJP got majority. BJP President JP Nadda had congratulated BJP for this victory, he tweeted and said, ‘BJP’s victory in Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh election is historic; BJP has won 15 out of 26 seats.
NO JOBS, PASSPORT CLEARANCE TO ANTI-NATIONALS
Implementing a new policy, the state government passed an order that those involved in stone pelting and other anti-national activities would not get the green signal from any security agencies in the scrutiny of passport applications and government appointments.
After checking the local police records and digital means, if the people of Jammu and Kashmir found involved in such activities will neither get passports nor will they get government jobs. The intention of the government behind this is that people who take salaries from India and take part in activities against India should not be included in the government system.
Moreover, the state administration of Jammu and Kashmir has now started sacking government employee from the job if he has connections with terrorists. Last week itself, the Jammu and Kashmir administration dismissed 15 such government employees from their jobs, let us tell you that these people were found involved in anti-national activities. State government sources say that many such government employees have also been identified. The links of these government employees were with the terrorists, soon the action of dismissal can be taken against them too. In this context, now such government employees in the state should be careful who will not be able to carry out activities against India by taking salary from the Government of India itself.
THE GUPKAR ALLIANCE DUBBED ‘NAYA KASHMIR’ AS A JOKE.
Hardening its stance vis à vis the Centre ahead of the second anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370, the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration described BJP’s ‘Naya Kashmir’ slogan as a “joke”. In a statement issued by PAGD spokesperson MY Tarigami on Wednesday, it was reiterated that the Union government had perpetrated an “unprecedented assault” on the Constitution thereby “damaging” Jammu and Kashmir’s bond with India. The PAGD lamented that J&K was divided into two Union Territories without the consent of people, a precedent which it asserted was a substantial step towards a “unitary state”.
In a veiled reference to the arrest of mainstream political leaders after the revocation of J&K’s special status, it claimed that “unconscionable suppression of civil and democratic rights continues unabated”. The PAGD also condemned the recent order which states that those involved in ‘law and order and stonepelting cases’ will not get clearance for passport and government services. Maintaining that ‘adverse police report’ cannot be a substitute for a court verdict, it lamented that the dissonance between the Centre and J&K is deepening despite PM Modi’s meeting with key political leaders.