Govt Decides to Revoke Article 370, J&K and Ladakh to be Separate Union Territories
The Rajya Sabha has got off to a chaotic start with the opposition raining questions on the J&K situation at home minister Amit Shah who rose to introduce a bill on implementing the 10% EWS quota in J&K. Shah says he is ready to answer all questions on Kashmir. There is mounting speculation that the announcement may be in connection with Article 370 and Article 35A which guarantee special provisions to Jammu and Kashmir.
Back in the Valley, three of Jammu and Kashmir’s most prominent politicians — Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Sajjad Lone are under house arrest amid a massive security-built up in the state. Internet services and mobile services have been suspended in several places and all public gatherings are banned in Srinagar district as section 144 was imposed from midnight.
Jammu and Kashmir will also be “reorganised,” said the Home Minister, proposing the bifurcation of the state into two union territories – Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
Ladakh will be a Union Territory without an assembly and Jammu and Kashmir will be a Union Territory with an assembly, under the proposal.
The historic announcements came shortly after a cabinet meeting at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s house this morning.
Article 370 of the constitution is a ‘temporary provision’ which grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The ruling BJP has been opposing special status for Jammu and Kashmir for decades. It has been a part of its election manifestos.
In its 2014 manifesto, the BJP said it “reiterates its stand on the Constitution provision and will discuss this with all stakeholders and remains committed to the abrogation of this article”.
Amit Shah spoke in the Rajya Sabha amid massive protests from the opposition over turmoil in the state and an unprecedented lockdown that included the house arrest of former chief ministers like Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
Over the past week, a massive security build-up has seen nearly 35,000 troops posted in the state. In an unusual order on Friday, the government asked Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and tourists to leave the state “immediately”, sending parts of the state into panic.
Article 370 specifies that except for defence, foreign affairs, communications and ancillary matters, parliament needed the Jammu and Kashmir government’s concurrence for all other laws.
Because of Article 370, the state’s residents were under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians.