In a historic move, Article 370 has been revoked in Jammu and Kashmir. In preparation for this move, the state witnessed increased security deployment over the weekend while top political leaders were placed under house arrest last night and curfew was imposed on Monday morning.
Modi government's decision will have a big impact on the lives of Kashmir residents. Here's a look at the special privileges hitherto enjoyed by J&K that now stand to be revoked:
Special status for J&K
Article 370, which came into force in 1952, empowered J&K to be be a near autonomous state since it limited the Centre's authority to just external affairs, defence, finance and communication. This provision allowed J&K to have a Sadar-e-Riyasat for governor and prime minister in place of a chief minister till 1965 as well as its own flag and constitution.
Furthermore, revoking Article 370 will allow the Centre to declare emergency in the state except in case of a war. Currently, the Union Government needs the concurrence of the state government to even declare a financial emergency in the state under Article 360.
As per the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019, in place of this special status, all the provisions of the Constitution will henceforth be applicable.
Unique privileges under Article 35A
Article 35A, which comes under Article 370, proscribes non-permanent residents of J&K from permanently settling in the state, buying immovable property, acquiring land, applying for government jobs or any kind of scholarships, aids as well as other public welfare projects. The people of J&K will now lose these benefits associated with the permanent resident certificate.
Article 370 protected the state's demographic character
Kashmir is India's only Muslim majority state. "GOIs intention is clear & sinister. They want to change demography of the only Muslim majority state in India, disempower Muslims to the extent where they become second class citizens in their own state," Mufti tweeted earlier on Monday. She went as far as to call the abrogation "another partition along communal lines". But that is a sentiment echoed by many in the state - the abrogation of Article 370, and by extension Article 35A, is seen to open the floodgates so as to speak, enabling Hindus from other parts of India to migrate to the state and thus engineer a demographic transformation.
J&K Assembly will no longer be in a position to clear any significant bills within the state - the balance of power will shift in favour of the Union government. Significantly, in the absence of an elected government in the state the presidential order reportedly states that the state's governor shall exercise the powers of the elected government.
Preferential employment opportunities
Under Article 35A no outsider could bag a government job. Companies in the state were even forced to hire only locals. The revoking of this rule intends to level the playing field. In a blog post in March, BJP stalwart and former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had claimed that Article 35A crippled J&K's ability to raise financial resources - despite not having enough of it - and denied its people a booming economy, economic activity and jobs. "No investor is willing to set up an industry, hotel, private educational institutions or private hospitals since he can neither buy land or property nor can his executives do so. Their ward cannot get government jobs or admission to colleges. Today, there are no major national or international chains which have set up hotel in a tourism-centric State. This prevents enrichment, resource generation and job creation," he penned.
Right to protect its state borders
J&K's special status had thus far shielded it from the applicability of Article 3, which provides for re-drawing state boundaries or the creation of a new state. The bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories (UTs) - Ladakh and J&K - is hence pinned to the abrogation of Article 370. "Keeping in view the prevailing internal security situation, fuelled by cross border terrorism in the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir, a separate Union Territory for Jammu and Kashmir is being created. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be with legislature," Shah announced in Rajya Sabha. He added that this has been a long pending demand of people of Ladakh.
Of course, there are some Kashmiris who are celebrating the government's decision. The Article, also referred to as the Permanent Residents Law, had thus far barred a woman (belonging to the state) from any property rights if she marries a person from outside the state. The provision also extended to the children of such women as they do not have any succession rights over the property. The revoking of Article 370 ends the age-old discrimination against women of J&K who chose to marry outsiders.
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