India on Monday scrapped Article 370 of her constitution abolishing the special status for Kashmir.
President Ram Nath Kovind has declared abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The move came after both houses of Parliament passed a resolution in this regard.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (3) of Article 370 read with clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, the President, on the recommendation of Parliament, is pleased to declare that, as from the 6th August, 2019, all clauses of the said article 370 shall cease to be operative…,” an official notification signed by the President late on Tuesday night said.
Earlier on Monday, India’s Interior Minister Amit Shah announced at parliament that the federal government is scrapping Article 370, which was a constitutional provision that granted a measure of autonomy to the Indian Occupied Kashmir.
“The entire constitution will be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir state,” Shah told parliament amid several objections from opposition ministers.
Activists and progressives have called protests against the abrogation of the special status while Kashmir remains under strict lockdown with no communication with the outside world and an indefinite curfew.
Article 370 does not allow non-Kashmiris to purchase any property in the state. The latest move will allow Indian Hindus can purchase properties in the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, which activists say warned would be a similar policy to that of Israeli settlements in Palestine.
“The right wing in India has considered Israel its role model. Modi and Shah are playing straight from that playbook,” Rana Ayyub, an Indian activist and journalist, said in a tweet reacting to the move by the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Along with revoking the special status, the government divided the state in two Union Territories, meaning they will be ruled by the federal government while losing statehood.
The constitutional provisions revoked Monday were the bedrock of the treaty of accession through which Jammu and Kashmir’s ruler acceded his region to Indian territory.
“Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy,” said Mehbooba Mufti, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. “It will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent,” she added.
The genesis of Kashmir issue can be traced back to 1947, the year India ‘won’ independence from the two-centuries-long British colonialism.
The King of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, a Hindu ruler in the Muslim majority valley, dreamt of ruling Kashmir independently while more than 500 princely states were banded together by the British to form the present-day geopolitical territory known as India.
Hari Singh’s father bought Kashmir from the British in 1846 which chose not to accede with India. Nonetheless, this was shattered by the entrance of Pakistani troops into Kashmir in October of that year.
Realizing his impending doom, the fleeing king requested military help from India and in return acceded the valley into Indian territory on Oct. 26, 1947, despite opposition from its population.
On Oct. 27, 1947, in the early morning hours, the Indian army landed in Kashmir. Their ascendance became the catalyst of the movement for ‘Azadi’ (freedom).
Meanwhile, The Kashmir Times in its Editorial pointed out that he manner in which special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of Constitution of India has been dealt a severe blow, it shows that BJP has made J&K a theatre of its militarist and muscular Hindutva nationalism.
With a highly militaristic approach to separatism and shunning political process in entirety since 2014, the BJP has now delivered on a promise, it made to the masses in the rest of the country, through a combination of executive and parliamentary measures.
Moreover, for the first time in the history of India, J&K has been downgraded and divided into two Union Territories from a State. The mechanism adopted by the government to propagate and extend its retrograde ideological to J&K through Rajya Sabha was both hasty and stealthy. This move will not only strain India’s social in its impact on the State but also portents it holds for federalism, parliamentary democracy and diversity. There is no doubt that J&K’s special status could be brought to an end, but only with the concurrence of its people. The Centre’s abrupt move took away their right to do so on a matter that directly affected their life and sentiments. It is intriguing that this was done after a massive military build-up and the house arrest of senior political leaders, and the communications shutdown and reveals a cynical disregard to democratic norms.
It appears that the NDA-government values J&K for its demonstrative impact before the rest of the country, as a place where a strong nation and its strong leader show uncompromising political will. But that may have other unintended consequences.
Geographically and metaphorically, J&K is the crown of secular India a Muslim majority region in a Hindu majority country. Its people and leaders had chosen secular India over Muslim Pakistan, a fact that Islamists never reconciled with. Whatever be its intent in enabling the full integration of J&K with India, August5, 2019, decision to alter the State’s status could have unintended, dangerous and disastrous consequences in the future.