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The curious case of Jammu and Kashmir

The President of India issued a Presidential Order today upon the advice of BJP government to abrogate (repeal or abolition of law)the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Abrogation of the Article 370 was a key point of the BJP manifesto in both, Modi 1.0 and 2.0. The issue can be divided into the past, the present and the future.

The Past

Jammu and Kashmir was, from 1846 until 1947, a princely state of the British Empire in India and ruled by a Jamwal Rajput Dogra Dynasty. The state was created in 1846 from the territories previously under Sikh Empire after the First Anglo-Sikh War. The East India Company annexed the Kashmir Valley, Jammu, Ladakh, and Gilgit-Baltistan from the Sikhs, and then transferred it to Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu in return for an indemnity payment of 7,500,000 Nanakshahee Rupees.

At the time of partition, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir remain to chose as an independent as a princely state. During the month of October 1947, the western districts of the state was attacked by Pasthun tribes from the neighboring north-west frontier province of Pakistan with the backing of Pakistani ISI (Inter Services Intelligence). With no other option left the then Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Sing signed an instrument of accession. It primary clause mentions that once its invaders are repelled, India has to hold a plebiscite (referendum) to finally decide the status of Jammu and Kashmir whereas India put 3 conditions forward and they are

The Maharaja must accede to India.

He should democratize the internal administration of the state and frame a new constitution along the Mysore model.

He should take the National Conference leader Sheikh Abdullah into government and make him responsible for it along with the Prime Minister.

Instrument of Accession

The Instrument was accepted by the Governor-General the next day, 27 October. Indian troops landed at Srinagar airport in Kashmir on 27 October and secured the airport before proceeding to evict the invaders from the Kashmir Valley. Due to a ceasefire, the region of Gilgit - Baltistan was occupied by the Pakistani which is popularly known as PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) and LOC (Line of Control) was drawn.

After the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir was elected in 1952, it passed a resolution supporting the abolition of monarchy. Jammu and Kashmir operated as a princely state of India until 1952. Sheikh Abdullah came up with the terms of Article 370 which gives special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Under this article, the centre needs the state government's concurrence to apply laws except in defense, foreign affairs, finance and communications. It means the state's residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians. As a result of this provision, Indian citizens from other states cannot purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir.

Under Article 370, the Centre has no power to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the state. It can declare an emergency in the state only in case of war or external aggression. The Article 370 which comes under Part XXI of the Constitution, which deals with "Temporary, Transitional and Special provisions" grants J&K a special autonomous status. Constitutional provisions that are applicable to other Indian states are not applicable to J&K. Article 35A was later added by a presidential order which gave the definition of state citizen. The state's Constitution, at the time of its adoption in 1956, defined a permanent resident as someone who was a state subject on May 14, 1954, or who has been a resident for 10 years, and has lawfully acquired immovable property. What this clause means is that no outsider can now own property in J&K or get a state job. The article is also known as the Permanent Residents Law. Among other things, it deprives the state's female residents of property rights if/when they marry an 'outsider'. The provision also extends to children born of any such women.

The Present

Modi - Shah Duo

The speculations were ripe that the Government of India was planning to scrap Article 35A. There were telltale signs of this from the time BJP withdrew support to the PDP led government in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. But the larger question was when rather than how. With little support in Rajya Sabha everyone expected such a move to happen two years down the lane but with recent turn of events such as the expiration of term of multiple Rajya Sabha MP's who predominantly belonged to the Opposition, TDP MP's shifting to BJP after attaining sufficient number so that they can't be disqualified under the anti defection law etc saw the bill being introduced earlier than expected. The plan was to execute this during the month of February 2019 but was postponed due to the Pulwama attacks. The last week saw huge rise in the number of reserve forces in the valley, telephone services were called off and the Amaranth Yatra was cancelled. Curfew was imposed in the Kashmir region and schools and colleges throughout the state were called off. Former Chief Ministers, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah were kept under house arrest and all the non residents were evacuated in order to prevent any hostage situations. The decision was taken after Amit Shah and Ajit Doval completed their visit to Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month.

Now, that the Article 370 has been abrogated expect for the first clause which mentions that Jammu and Kashmir belongs to India. Article 35A which derives its power from Article 370 has also been abrogated. The state of Jammu and Kashmir is now a Union Territory with Ladakh being a separate Union Territory. The Jammu and Kashmir Union territory has a legislative assembly much similar to the UT's of Delhi and Pondicherry where that of Ladakh has no such option. I my opinion the whole state should have been split into 3 UT's of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh respectively.

The Future

UT of Ladakh (Blue), UT of Jammu and Kashmir (Green and Orange)

With the shackles now broken, I foresee a month or two of escalated tensions in Jammu and Kashmir and in between India and Pakistan. The elections to the legislative assemblies would be held in a month or so and if the opposition boycott's the elections, it sure that BJP would win the elections. During the recent Panchayat elections, BJP swept all seats in the valley regions of Anantanag, Kulgam, Pulama, Sophian etc. This indicates the strong grass root presence of BJP.

The BJP led government would face challenge when the Supreme Court reviews the bill. It would be an uphill task if the apex court declares it as unconstitutional. Pakistan would try to pull the issue into International Court of Justice and make it a global issue rather bilateral. With Trump government supporting Pakistan in return of safe exit of Americans from Afghanistan, it would be interesting to see how India moves its pawns.

On a long run the region of Ladakh will gain the most with increased tourism and multiple industries popping up. The region of Jammu and Kashmir would slowly catch up. The region would rightfully regain its title as the Heaven on Earth.

Side notes

This has been a long wish of the Shyam Prasad Mukerjee, the founder of Bharatiya Jana Sang, the parent organization of BJP.

Shah - Modi duo along with Doval (National Security Advisor) have shown us what complete majority in both the houses can do. It is therefore our duty to give a stable government rather than a weak mandate.

The current Presidential Order mentions that words "with the concurrence of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir". This presumably means the Governor, who is now administering the state under President's Rules.

India now has 28 states and 9 UT's.

I believe Modi to be the creator, Shah the implementer and Doval the director.




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