Recently, on 5th August 2019, Article 370 in Part XXI of the Indian Constitution, which granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, was revoked, and brought in the J&K Reorganization Bill 2019, splitting the state into two Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh without one.

According to Article 370, all provisions of the Indian Constitution did not apply to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It provided the state to have its own Constitution. There are three Articles of the Indian Constitution that are applicable to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Article 1 (India as a Union of States and its Territory), Article 35A and Article 370.

On 20th October 1947, the Azad Kashmir Forces supported by the Pakistan army attacked the frontiers of the state, which made the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, sign the ‘Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India’ on 26th October 1947. According to this document, the state surrendered three subjects to the Dominion of India, which are Defence, External Affairs and Communications. With this, the Government of India made a commitment to the people that “the people of this state, through their own Constituent Assembly, would determine the internal Constitution of this state, and until the decision of the Constituent Assembly of the State, the Constitution of India could only provide an interim arrangement regarding the state”. Therefore, according to this provision, Article 370 was assimilated in the Constitution of India. This Article clearly states that the provisions under this article are temporary and not permanent. Article 370 had been in operation since 17th November 1952.

Now the Government of India has repealed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and extended all provisions of the Constitution of India to the state, including the right to buy property and vote in the Union Territories by all citizens.  The Union Territory of Ladakh comprises of Leh and Kargil districts, and the rest of the part of the then Jammu and Kashmir state will remain with the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will be administered by the President, through their respective Lieutenant Governors who will be appointed by the President. The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir will be the common High Court for the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.

According to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Article 35A, which provided the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to decide the permanent residents of the state and give them special rights and privileges with regard to employment, scholarships, etc., and Article 370, were an obstruction in the way to development of the region. The investment and job opportunities were halted in the state as the citizens belonging to other states, except for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, could not buy property in the state and hence were not allowed to invest which further hampered the rise in the economic development. This gave rise to unemployment among the youth, which further led to the rise of terrorism in the state, which is evident from the number of terrorist attacks Kashmir has witnessed in the past.

Some of the best educational institutions could have thrived in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and provide the children of the region with better educational facilities, but teachers and professors were reluctant to teach there, due to security issues and also because their children could not get admission in the government aided educational institutions of the state, and they could not even buy their own house/property there.

With the revocation of Article 370, the problems of the citizens of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as citizens belonging to other states have been addressed.

Therefore, the move is likely to have a strong impact on the demography, culture and politics of the region.

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      Dr. RS Aggarwal
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