Govt scraps special status for Jammu & Kashmir, splits state
05 August 2019
The government has revoked the special status of Kashmir, abrogating the provisions of Article 370 under the Constitution, in a bid to fully integrate the region with the rest of the country.
Announcing the decision after the cabinet meeting, home minister Amit Shah told Parliament that Jammu & Kashmir will cease to be a state. While J&K will be a union territory with a legislature, Ladakh will be a union territory without legislature.
Shah termed the move as "historical", saying Article 370 has not allowed integration of J&K with the country.
“The entire constitution will be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir state,” Shah said.
"The president on the recommendation of Parliament is pleased to declare as from 5th of August 2019, all clauses of the said Article 370 shall cease to be operative... ," stated the resolution moved by the Home minister.
Shah also moved a bill proposing bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir division and Ladakh.
As soon as Shah made the announcement, members of the Congress, TMC and DMK squat on the floor of the House, one of the PDP members tore his clothes and then along with another PDP member tore copies of the Constitution, prompting Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to order that they be physically removed.
When the House met, Naidu said he had used his discretionary powers to waive the requirement of the government to give advance notice and circulate a bill as the issue was of urgent national importance.
Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the entire Kashmir Valley is under curfew and three former chief ministers of the state and political leaders have been placed under house arrest.
He wanted the situation to be discussed first but Naidu allowed Shah to move the resolution.
Shah moved the resolution to abolish Article 370 as well as the state reorganisation bill along with listed bills to extend reservation for economically weaker sections in educational institutions and government jobs in Jammu and Kashmir.
A slew of parties supported the government's decision while the opposition Congress and some other parties made loud protests against the repeal.
The government also lifted a ban on property purchases by people from outside Jammu and Kashmir, opening the way for Indians to invest and settle there like any other part of India, the most far-reaching political move on the troubled Himalayan territory in nearly seven decades.
The repeal of Article 370 also ends a measure of autonomy enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir, including the right to make its own laws.
The move is likely to increase tensions with Pakistan, which forcibly occupied parts of Kashmir in 1947 and demanded that India give the Kashmiri people the right to self-determination.
“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 special status for J&K, introduced decades ago and included reserved government jobs and college placements for residents, was an abberation of the state’s accession to India after Independence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his associates had pushed for radical political changes in Jammu and Kashmir even before the election in May, arguing the old laws had hindered its integration with the rest of India.
Ram Madhav, general secretary of the ruling BJP, referred to the government’s actions as a “glorious day” and celebrations were planned across the country.
Telephone and internet services remained suspended and movement of public in the main Srinagar city has been restricted since midnight. Some regional leaders were put under house arrest around midnight.
Tension had risen in Kashmir since Friday, when the central and state authorities issued an alert over possible militant attacks by Pakistan-based groups and asked thousands of tourists, pilgrims and workers to leave the state.