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Abrogation of Article 370 and 35A from Jammu and Kashmir: Meaning for Modi regime 2.0

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Dhvanit Goswami

The revoking of Article 370 clearly meant that the state will be governed by only the Constitution of India and hence is now completely integrated in the Union of India as the rest of the states.

5th August, 2019, marked a crucial turning point in the history of independent India, when Narendra Modi led NDA government passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, in the Rajya Sabha, which was passed with a majority. The bill abrogated Article 370 and 35A from the state of Jammu & Kashmir, which was one of the major ideological goals of the BJP since the first day of the inception of its precursor, Bharatiya Janasangh (BJS). The founder of the BJS, Syama Prasad Mukherjee, died in the Srinagar jail, while leading an agitation to revoke the Article in the year 1953.

Article 370, by providing partial autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (like having its own separate constitution, a separate flag and the freedom to make laws), alienated the state from rest of the nation. This resulted in the misuse of the privileges accorded by the Article by the politicians of the Kashmir valley which in turn fuelled separatism and radical communalism in the valley. The cross border terrorism led to the genocide and mass exodus of the indigenous Kashmiri Hindus in the decade of 1990s and violent insurgency which continues till date.

The Act became effective from 31st October, 2019, which bifurcated the state into two Union Territories (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The UT of Ladakh does not have an elected assembly but the UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have an elected assembly, with a Chief Minister on the lines of Delhi and Puducherry. Also, now both the UTs are governed according to the Constitution of India and not by a separate constitution. The laws applicable to rest of the nation and Jammu and Kashmir will be the same.

One of the major achievements of abrogation is giving justice to the subjugated population of the Jammu and Ladakh regions. While discussing the issue of Article 370 and Kashmir, the other two regions of the state, Jammu and Ladakh were always neglected, who are not only culturally and geographically distinct from the Kashmir valley but also do not suffer from separatist tendencies like the valley area.

The Article 35A was used as a veto power by the hegemony of the elite leadership of the Kashmir valley who used it in the every major decision making process of the state, which did grave injustice to the people of the other parts of the state. There were constant demands from the citizens of Jammu and Ladakh regions to grant separate status of statehood and UT respectively in order to attain independence from the clutches of the separatist leaders of the valley.

The worst hit section of the state apart from the Kashmiri Pandits were the residents of the Jammu region, which included the Hindu-Sikh partition refugees who migrated from Pakistan in the year 1947, the Dalit members of the Valmiki community and Gorkhas, who all were denied citizenship of the state and related rights due to the provisions of Articles 35A. The Kashmir based political parties always opposed granting citizenship rights of the state to the Hindu partition refugees of West Pakistan settled in Jammu and the descendants of the Dalit Valmiki members who arrived in the Jammu region in the decade of 1950s. All the above people mentioned are now full-fledged legal residents of the new UT.

Earlier before the abrogation, the children of the daughters of the state who were married outside the state to non-Jammu and Kashmir residents were denied the right of inheritance of the properties of their mother located in the state, which now has been reversed. According to the notification of the Jammu and Kashmir grant of Domicile certificate (Procedure) Rules, 2020, the government of UT of Jammu and Kashmir has now made all the deprived west Pakistani Hindu partition refugee families of the region and the Kashmiri Pandit migrants residing in different parts of the nation, eligible for domicile certificates of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.

The abrogation has cleared the legal hurdles for the entire region, especially for the Jammu and Ladakh, which was restricting the industrial development of the region. The draconian provisions of Article 35A prevented the businessmen from other parts of India to set industries in Jammu, but now after the article is abrogated, the region has the potential to attract investors from other parts of the nation to invest in the region, especially in the areas of real estate, tourism, textile and food processing. This can increase the chances of job opportunities for the people of Jammu and Ladakh regions.

Abrogating Article 370 and 35A from the state of Jammu & Kashmir is a major milestone for the Modi regime 2.0, because Kashmir issue is not just a local insurgency problem, but rather an international geo-political conflict. The nation has lost large number of its defence personnel due to the separatist insurgency in the valley accompanied by religious extremism and feeling of alienation becoming rampant in the local population.

From the national security point of view, the region which since decades is subject to cross border terrorism, will now be controlled by the police and the army directly, which are in turn would be under the control of the union government. The revoking of Article 370 clearly meant that the state will be governed by only the Constitution of India and hence is now completely integrated in the Union of India as the rest of the states. The bifurcation of the state and making it a union territory gave clear signals to the international community that now, India will directly overlook the region and not tolerate external aggression on its soil.

The abrogation of Article 370 and 35A will always be remembered as a master stroke of the Modi regime, as it clearly established the fact that the government has strong diplomatic acumen and executing skill to resolve decade old issues. The process of abrogation in violence infested area was also a peaceful process which also proves that his government believes in behaving as per the law of land and due process, rather than ruthlessly using muscle power of military, like what happened in the Sri Lankan civil war in the year 2009.

Although it still remains a challenge for Delhi to de-radicalise the population of the valley who are disconnected from the mainstream Indian society, the abrogation can be considered as the first step to start developing a positive bond with the people of valley via soft diplomatic power.

The author is an intern at Academics4nation



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