Keeping up with one of its core ideologies, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday scrapped Article 370 of Indian Constitution, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Home Minister Amit Shah made the historic announcement on the floor of Rajya Sabha, as Opposition parties erupted in protest. But what was Article 370 and what will happen now?
[ History ] First, let’s understand how Article 370 came to being
Article 370 was drafted in Amendment of the Constitution section, in Part XXI, under Temporary and Transitional Provisions, and was one of the key reasons behind J&K’s accession to Union of India. When the country gained independence, some 500 princely states joined the Union, but J&K (due to its Muslim majority), showed reluctance.
[ Provisions ] Courtesy Article 370, laws for J&K were different
Under Article 370, the Centre was not allowed to implement laws in J&K, without the approval of the state legislature, or declare a financial emergency. Only laws related to defense, foreign affairs, finance, and communications, were allowed to be implemented. The Article also stopped the Centre from increasing or decreasing the state’s borders and let the state legislature draft its own Constitution.
[ Article 35A ] Not everyone could become J&K’s “citizen”
Notably, Article 370 gave birth to another contentious article, precisely Article 35A. The latter one pertained to “citizenship” of J&K. Article 35A gave state full rights to decide who is a permanent resident of J&K and who isn’t. These Articles of the Constitution, which were supposed to be temporary solutions, barred Indians from other states from purchasing property in J&K.
J&K ceases to be a state, becomes Union Territory
Apart from scrapping Article 370, the BJP also redrew the state’s map. It bifurcated the state between two Union Territories- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. While the former will have a legislature, the latter will not have one.
[ Impact ] One Constitution, one flag: J&K completely joins India
Naturally, by abolishing Article 370, Centre has ripped J&K of its autonomy/special status. This means the Centre will have full power over the state as far as implementing laws is concerned. J&K will also function as per the Indian Constitution, making it an integral part of the country. Not only this, but the state will also have to let go of its flag.
BJP pulled a courageous move. What will happen next?
BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, pulled off a huge gamble with this announcement. Sensing that the decision could lead to unrest, Centre deployed heavy forces in the valley, asked tourists to head back, and even took an unprecedented decision by putting prominent politicians under house arrest. It’s left to be seen how this decision pans out in the next couple of days.