Kashmir has always been a controversial piece of land ever since India gained Independence in the year 1947. Day in and day out, we read about controversies in the newspapers and watch it on digital media, and over the period of time Kashmir has aroused emotive issues with many Indians.
Key highlights of the blog are :-
- History Of Kashmir
- Controversies Regarding Kashmir
- Article 370 : Status And Significance
- Article 35A : Status And Significance
- Repealing Of Article 370 & 35A : What, Why And How?
- Changes on Ground : Kashmir And Ladakh Today
- The Bottom Line
History Of Kashmir
Prior to independence of India from British in the year 1947, the area was a princely state and was known as “Jammu & Kashmir.” However, after independence the then prime-minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru tried to convince the ruler Maharaja Hari Singhto integrate Kashmir with India. However, Maharaja Hari Singh was unsure about this at that point of time and was wondering whether he should accept the dominion and be a part of India or should remain independent for the time being.
However, after an uprising against the ruler in Poonch and an invasionby a Pathan tribal militia from Pakistan, Maharaja Hari Singh turned to India for military assistance and sent an Instrument of Accession to India. The accession was executed by the then government of India with a view that through talks the final status of Kashmir would be determined.
Controversies Regarding Kashmir
Kashmir was the only princely state which shared it’s borders with India and Pakistan and thus aroused the interest of both the nations. However, after the uprising against a ruler in Poonch and an invasion by Pathan tribal militia from Pakistan, Maharaja Hari Singh turned to India and thus Kashmir became a part of India.
In spite of this, Kashmir has always been a heated issue for the two neighboring nations, India and Pakistan.
- Pakistani troops broke in that led to a direct conflict between the two countries until UN-brokered ceasefire was signed on 1st January 1949 after which a ceasefire line was agreed upon by both the nations. As a result, the northern and the eastern part of Kahmir became a part of Pakistan as Azad Kashmir and the remaining state was acceded to India.
- India and Pakistan again faced each other in the year 1965, arguing over the status of Kashmir. However, both of them ensured that the ceasefire line set up in 1949 was maintained and not violated.
- Another war broke between the two in 1971 in which India managed an upper hand and made some territorial gains in the Kashmir region. However, the war ended with the signing of the Simla Agreementon July 2, 1972.
Even after all these struggles and conflicts the controversies with respect to Kashmir still continues between the two. While the Indian government considers Kashmir as an integral part of India and wishes to keep it as an internal matter of the country, Pakistan wishes to internationalize this dispute in a global forum which still keeps the debate heated between the two.
Article 370: Status and Significance
The Article 370 can be described as a “temporary provision” which granted Jammu and Kashmir a special autonomous status within the Indian Union.
- Under this article, the Union Parliament could only make laws for the state on the matters pertaining to defence, foreign affairs and communication and that too in consultation with the government of the state. Apart from this, other matters in the legislative subject lists could apply to Jammu & Kashmir only with the concurrence of the government of the state through a presidential order.
- The article also stipulated that other constitutional provisions might be applied to the state from time to time, “subjected to certain modifications or exceptions” which were to be made by the President of India, through a presidential order.
- As a result, the state of Jammu & Kashmir enacted it’s own constitution which was formally adopted by the constituent assembly on November 17, 1956.
- However, the article also gave the President of India the power to amend or repeal Article 370 through a public notification, provided that the “recommendation of the Constituent Assembly of the state” is given before the president issues such notification.
Article 35A: Status and Significance
In July, 1952 an agreement was made between the then prime-minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah, and then prime-minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, which called for Citizenship law of India to be made applicable to J&K and allowed the state to regulate rights and privileges of its own permanent residents. This agreement was codified by the President of India who issued the Constitution Order, 1954which added article 35A to the Indian Constitution.
- This article defined permanent citizen as someone who was a subject of the state on May 14,1954 or has been a resident of the state for 10 years and have lawfully acquired immovable property.
- As a result, this article did not allow Indians outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy property in the state and also denied them from getting a state job in J&K.
Repealing Of Article 370 & 35A : What, Why And How?
- On 5th August 2019 the President of India issued the Constitution Order 2019, C.O. 272 which was pursuant to Article 370 (I) of the Constitution of India.
- This order stated that with the concurrence of the government of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, all the provisions of the constitution as amended from time to time must be applicable in the state of J&K as well. On the same day, a statutory resolution was passed by
the upper house of the parliament of India recommending the President of India to abrogate most of Article 370 which was in relation to Article 370 (3).
- On 6th August 2019 the president of India implemented the resolution and revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir through Presidential Order C.O. 273. This is how, the special status of Kashmir was taken and Article 370 and Article 35A which granted special right to J&K was abolished.
Why Was This Done?
If we think practically, repealing of Article 370 & 35A was somewhere necessary. It was a result of such special status given to Jammu and Kashmir that corruption increased in the state and neither development took place nor democracy could be fully restored in the state.
- Scrapping of Article 370 & 35A was indeed necessary to put Jammu and Kashmir which enjoyed special status for long, on same footing as rest of India.
- This was also necessary to ensure growth and economic development of the state, which was hindered for so long due to Article 370 & 35A.
- This was also necessary to normalize the situation as there was internal violence and uproar in the valley for so long.
How Was This Done?
Although the BJP government wanted to scrap the special status of Kashmir for so long, it took some time for them as well to prepare for this before arriving at the decision. The government knew that such a decision would imbibe fear and would lead to uproar in the valley and thus took adequate measures to overcome them.
- In the month of August, thousands of new troops were deployed into the region. This was done to keep an eye on day to day basis and to ensure that violence did not breakdown in the valley.
- Citing terrorist threats, the tourist and pilgrims who visited the state were evacuated and schools and colleges were shut down.
- After the decision was taken, the government subsequently cut down landline, mobile and internet communications to ensure that no mass protests were held in the valley.
- In addition to all this, the political leaders and activists were house-arrested under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act.
- Curfews and Lockdowns were also imposed in the valley.
All this was done to prevent protests and ensure that the decision was taken up positively by the people in the valley and they were not misled by someone which could result in mass uproar and violence.
Changes On Ground: Kashmir And Ladakh Today
- After Article 370 and 35A were repealed last year, Kashmir does not enjoy any special status and has to abide by the Indian Constitution just like any other state. This makes all the Indian laws automatically applicable to the state of Jammu and Kashmir in general and the people of the state in particular.
- The abolishment of Article 370 and 35A ensures that any individual from India can buy property in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This attracts corporate houses to set up offices and industries in the valley and tap vital human resource.
- Also as per the notification released by the union government while scrapping Article 370 and Article 35A last year, the Ladakh region has also been given the status of a Union Territory, without legislature. Although the Ladakh division has a very large area, it is sparsely populated and that is due to the difficult terrain.
- Moreover, Ladakh had to be given the status of Union Territory considering the long pending demands of the people of Ladakh to enable them to realize their aspiration.
The Bottom Line
Wrapping it up, all I would say no matter how small and insignificant this step may look, this was a step in the right direction. Certainly, there still continue to be some disturbances which hamper the process of restoration of normal life of people in the valley, this move was yet vital to show all the miscreants how firm and bold this new India is regarding the situation in Kashmir.