While India lies torn between the pros and cons of scrapping Article 370 and 35A from J&K, this controversy has been drawn into limelight. This sudden decision of revoking the special privileges granted to India-administered Kashmir will have far-reaching consequences.

Using the powers vested under 3rd section of Article 370, the Government announced that following signing of the declaration, all sections of this article would cease to hold good except Section 1.

* What is Article 370?

Initially, Article 370 of the Constitution of India was drafted in Part XXI of the Indian Constitution and considered to be temporary, transitional and offering special provisions. Here are a few pointers of this Article –

  1. Parliament cannot intervene in any matters of J&K barring a few areas of finance, defence, foreign affairs, and communication
  2. Indian Penal Code does not set a code of laws in this area, rather Ranbir Penal Code is in power here
  3. Citizens from another state cannot buy property in Jammu and Kashmir
  4. Centre has no power to declare a financial emergency in this area.

* Article 370 and Kashmir – the history

A timeline of historical events that led to the implementation of this article in J&K can be chalked out as follows –

The 1930s – A Quit Kashmir movement is launched against the then-ruler – Maharaja Hari Singh.

August 1947 – Indian gains independence from British reign and the princely states that are not under either India or Pakistan are given 3 choices – choose sides or stay independent. Among states which stayed undecided are – Jammu and Kashmir, Junagadh, and Hyderabad. The contemporary Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel strived to convince the unresolved states to join India. Maharaja Hari Singh gives in by signing a standstill agreement with Pakistan and hence, effecting opting for the status quo.

October 1947 – With the infiltration of the Pakistani armed tribesmen, Hari Singh sought India’s help. Subsequently, Indian troops reached out post-signing of the Instrument of Accession in India’s favour that would hand over the control regarding communication, defence, and foreign affairs.

July 1949 – Discussion of provisions of Article 370 that accords special status to J&K

1950 – Constitution of India comes into force with inclusion Article 1 that states J&K as a state of India and Article 370

1975 – PM Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah, the then–PM of Jammu and Kashmir signed Kashmir Accord to re-emphasise this article and considered the state as an integral part of India

August 5 2019 – Home Minister Amit Shah proposes a presidential order in an attempt to repeal Article 370 in the Lok Sabha. Post-revoking, J&K will be bifurcated into 2 territories of Ladakh that will be administered by the central and Jammu and Kashmir that will have its constituent assembly.

What is Article 35A?

Under this section,

  • Jammu and Kashmir government has full discretionary power to decide who the permanent residents of this state are
  • Special privileges and rights regarding property acquisition, employment with the state government, right to state scholarships or any other aids, settling in the state, etc.
  • Enables the state legislature to impose above-mentioned restrictions on any other individual other than its permanent residents

The present scenario in J&K

Article 370 of the Constitution of India that gives autonomy to was the primary reason why the princely Kashmir came under the administration of India in 1947. Subsequently, this region has its own set of rules which is different from that of the entire nation that includes matters of citizenship and property ownership.

However, the first few days of August witnessed a series of events that hinted at the fact that something was afoot in this region. Approximately tens of thousands of additional troops had been deployed, followed by the closing of schools and colleges, cancellation of Hindu pilgrimage, suspension of the internet and telephone services and house arrest of regional political leaders.

While many assumed this to be sole scrapping of Article 35A, it turned out to be something graver – Article 370 revoked. Considering that this has been the basis of Kashmir’s complex relationship with India since Independence, scrapping of this law would present a temporary situation of pandemonium.

J&K investor Summit 2019

With the scrapping of Article 370 from Kashmir, multiple plans have been developed centred around this new Union Territory. Subsequently, keeping in mind the potential development scopes in this UT, an investor’s summit has been arranged. These calls for the participation of heavy-weight industrial groups who are expected to unveil concrete ideas about the investment across the sectors of pharmaceuticals, healthcare, hospitality, and agro-processing.

It will help prospective investors derive a better understanding of the UT’s –

  • Business-friendly policies of the government
  • Available unskilled manpower
  • Assess infrastructure
  • Identify business opportunities
  • Evaluate the available war materials and natural resources.

This summit will thus give an opportunity to allay the apprehension and fear among the out-of-state entrepreneurs and investors.

The state of Jammu & Kashmir divided into 2 Union Territories

While Ladakh’s compliance and stand of association with India have always been transparent, thanks to the letter (before 370 came into being) by the President of Buddhist Association of Ladakh. It stated that Ladakh has always had a different identity from Jammu and Kashmir and had a point being associated with Tibet at some time. It was annexed in 1834 prior to the formation of Kashmir, and hence, Ladakh’s association with India has been clear.

Then again, considering the geostrategic importance of Ladakh considering that it gives access to Afghanistan, Russia and China, having it under the control of the centre ensures that this region receives paramount importance.

The reason behind revoking Article 370 and 35A

The implications of abrogation of Article 370 and 35A can be far-fetched and currently are under discussion. Considering that these were temporary provisions, it was only a matter of time before they were done away with. The surfaced dictum is that the Modi Government is aiming to bring in uniformity in the implementation of the law and hence, bring in a chance for the constitution to be more unitary than federal in character. However, the initial stage of alienation of this state needs to be handled strategically.

While this may be one reason behind this drastic decision by BJP to revoke the conjoined twins – Article 370 and 35A, there may be multiple other vested interests in this respect including that such a different implementation of laws act as roadblocks to the national and state development. However, the subsequent results of this abrogation are subjected to a matter of time.