The government of India has abolished the special status given through the constitution to Kashmir through a presidential order. Home Minister Amit Shah informed parliament that Article 370 has been abolished with the President signing an order that comes into effect “at once.”
The government has also said it wants parliament to clear a proposal that bifurcates the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories which are effectively semi-states. Jammu and Kashmir would be one union territory with its own legislature, like Delhi; Ladakh would be the other but without its own assembly.
Mr Shah said the union territory status proposed for Jammu and Kashmir is based on an assessment of the “prevailing security situation” fueled by cross-border terrorism.
Article 370 gave Kashmir its own constitution and restricted the centre’s powers to deciding matters of defence, communications and external affairs. For any other area, the centre had to get the state legislature’s approval.
Kashmir also had, through Article 35A of the constitution, the right to decide through its own legislature who is a permanent resident of the region; it barred outsiders from buying property or claiming government jobs and educational scholarships.
The order removing Article 370 came after tension in the Kashmir Valley racheted with thousands of paramilitary troops being flown into the area in the last few days. Last night, senior regional leaders including former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were placed under house arrest. Internet and phone services have been cut off and schools and offices have been ordered to remain shut.
Mr Abdullah, in a statement, said the government’s decisions on Jammu and Kashmir are “a total betrayal of the trust” of the people of the state.
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in a series of tweets condemned the decision.
Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy. Decision of J&K leadership to reject 2 nation theory in 1947 & align with India has backfired. Unilateral decision of GOI to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) August 5, 2019
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdulla termed it as a betrayal of the people of Kashmir