A historic decision that will shape the future of India

Today, the Rajya Sabha approved the bill that abrogated Article 370 which accorded the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and kept it away from integrating with India. The bill designates the regions of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as Union Territories. Celebrations began across the country after the bill got tabled on Monday morning in the Rajya Sabha. Around evening, the Rajya Sabha passed the bill with 125 votes in favour and 61 votes opposing it. Supporting the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, Union Home Minister Amit Shah blamed Article 370 for hindering the development of Jammu and Kashmir. He also criticized it for strengthening the terrorists.

Over the past few days, deployment of the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir was augmented with an additional 38 thousand troops. On Sunday night, Section 144 was imposed across the state. Moreover, few areas also saw the imposition of a curfew. Referring to these steps, the media across the country was claiming them to be a precursor to something big in store for Jammu and Kashmir. Proving the claims correct, on Monday, the Union Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the ‘Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill’ in the Rajya Sabha which led to jubilations across the nation.

However, some opposition parties called Article 370 to be a bridge that connects Jammu and Kashmir with India. They also expressed worry that the abolition of the bill will make the masses in the state go against India and strongly opposed its abrogation. In addition to this, some opposition leaders even went on to call the step anti-democratic. They also expressed concern that it would wipe out the separate cultural identity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Union Home Minister gave fitting replies to all the concerns and the warnings of the opposition members. Reminding the members that Article 370 was a temporary provision, the Home Minister said that a blind eye was turned at the fact conveniently. He also questioned whether the period termed ‘temporary’ can be so long. Moreover, Amit Shah also drew attention to the statement of the then Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in which he had said that the article would vanish with time. In spite of this, no thought was given to scrap the article due to vested political interests, vehemently alleged Home Minister Shah.

From 2004 to 2019 the Central Government provided the state of Jammu and Kashmir with 2 lakh 77 thousand crore rupees. This figure does not include the special package granted by Prime Minister Modi to the state. In spite of such colossal funding, the ordinary Kashmiris are yet to benefit from it. The financial year 2017-18 saw Rs. 8,227 per capita spent on every citizen while in Jammu and Kashmir this expense was as much as Rs. 27,358. And yet the people of the state remain deprived. The Home Minister questioned as to where such huge sums had vanished. Terming the political establishment in the state to be corrupt, he blamed Article 370 for shielding the corrupt political establishment.

Besides, Amit Shah also rubbished the claims of the opposition leaders that Article 370 was the link between Jammu & Kashmir and India. Shah brought the fact to notice of all that even before Article 370 took effect, Kashmir had merged into India. Also, the ruler of the princely state, Maharaja Hari Singh had signed the Instrument of Accession way back in 1949. 

Moreover, the Union Home Minister also held Article 370 responsible for the state of Jammu and Kashmir being a victim of terror and remaining under-developed.

Amit Shah also made many accusations against Article 370. He said - It is due to Article 370 that the Indian laws are not applied in Jammu and Kashmir. As a result, the students’ right to education remains unfulfilled. In spite of the Central Government allocating enormous funds, they do not reach the ordinary Kashmiri people due to corruption. Article 370 has so far safeguarded such corrupt political establishment. The article also proved a boost for the terrorists in the Valley. It is because of this article that the separatist elements spread their tentacles.

From the year 1989 till today, 41,849 people have lost their lives to violence in Jammu & Kashmir, and it is Article 370 that is responsible for it. The Home Minister also hit out at the claims that Article 370 preserves the separate cultural identity of Jammu and Kashmir. All the states in India without any special status have successfully preserved their culture and language. Jammu and Kashmir too could have done it without the need of Article 370, stressed Amit Shah.

Bashing Article 370 further, Shah said – those who defend Article 370 have their children take education at famous educational institutions in the foreign countries. However, no educational institutions have come up for the students in the state. Also, there are no good private hospitals as professors and doctors are not ready to take up jobs here. Article 370 and 35A made sure that no one could buy property here. As a result, no businesses or industries have come up in Kashmir. Even tourism in the valley of Kashmir, known as the heaven on the earth, got stunted due to Article 370. 

The Union Home Minister also dismissed the fears of the eruption of public outcry and spread of instability after the designation of Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory. Shah even appealed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to not fall prey to disinformation. Furthermore, Shah asked them to trust the Central Government and promised fast-paced development of Jammu and Kashmir in the next five years. The Union Home Minister also assured that at an appropriate time, Jammu and Kashmir would be once again be made into a state. What's more, he expressed faith that the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who await democracy and development, would welcome the decision. 

The Background of Article 370

  • In 1947, during the time of India’s independence, Kashmir was an independent princely state. The ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, signed the Instrument of Accession with India after the Pakistani tribal militias intruded into Kashmir.
  • Article 370 that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir came into effect in 1949. With the article, the Indian laws can be applied in Jammu and Kashmir only after the consent of the state assembly.
  • In 1954, the ‘35A’ was added to Article 370. The addition made only the person born in the state to be considered as its resident. No person from other states could buy land or property here.
  • The Article 35A provides for a woman born in Jammu and Kashmir, who marries any person from outside the state to lose her right to property in Jammu and Kashmir. Thus, the article is criticized for inflicting injustice on women and the one that propagates inequality.
  • The Pakistani leaders, diplomats and journalists have been regularly questioning Article 370 saying that if India claims Jammu and Kashmir to be its integral part, then why it has awarded the state a special status.