Government Makes History Abrogating Article 370; Scraps Special Status to J&K

By Sri Krishna


New Delhi. August 5 and 6 are indeed historic days for the BJP-led NDA as it saw the abrogation of Article 370 and division of Jammu and Kashmir into Union Territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh without Assembly. This fulfils one of three core issues promised by BJP in 1984 Palampur resolution outlining three contentious issues – Abrogation of Article 370, Uniform Civil Code and Construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

This was indeed a victory for the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as it saw a sharp divide within the opposition ranks as also within the main opposition Congress where several of its leaders like Janardhan Dwivedi, Jyotiraditya Scindia supported the abrogation.

However, the long term implications are many considering the manner in which it was done – arrest of leaders in the Valley who were once allies – Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples Democratic Party and Sajad Lone of the People’s Conference – and the entire Valley teeming with security forces with a clampdown on communications.

Clearly as one analyst described this move as a “leap in the dark,” for only time will tell whether it was the right move.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah told Parliament that once peace returns and the situation improves, the government will restore statehood to Jammu and Kashmir.

What has to be seen is when the Valley opens up and as and when the leaders are released, the fall out and its repercussions. Would it see the decline or end of terrorist activities in the region and with Pakistan assembly already unhappy over this move, what stance would that country adopt and continue its encouragement to terrorists in the border state.

This move by the government comes close on the heels of the United States taking a u-turn and seeking Pakistan help in dealing with the Taliban in Afghanistan from where President Donald Trump wants to withdraw American troops before the 2020 Presidential elections.

Another significant statement is of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in the US when he said that about 30,000 to 40,000 terrorists are harboured in his country and with this move by India, would one see these terrorists being encouraged to cross over and create more problems and how it would be dealt with in the changed circumstances.

Having taken such a major step towards restoring peace and normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, it remains to be seen how Modi government would deal with the legal and political fallout.

The move is likely to be challenged in the Supreme Court which could consider that Article 370 does give sweeping powers to the President. It might also take two to three years for the apex court to decide on the issue.

According to legal opinion, the constitutional relevance of Instrument of Accession will also be examined by the court. Whether Article 370 was part of the basic structure is also likely to be considered. The use of Article 367 in amending Article 370 will also be examined.

Article 3 of the Jammu and Kashmir constitution itself declares the state to be an integral part of India while in the state constitution’s preamble not only is there no claim to sovereignty like in the Indian Constitution, but a categorical acknowledgement that the object of the Jammu and Kashmir constitution is “to further define the existing relationship of the state with the Union of India as its integral part.”

Integration was already complete in accordance with the state’s Constitution and Article 370 merely gave some autonomy to the state and this has now been withdrawn.