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  India   All India  06 Aug 2019  Article 370 scrapped, J&K loses its special status; state to be bifurcated into 2 UTs

Article 370 scrapped, J&K loses its special status; state to be bifurcated into 2 UTs

THE ASIAN AGE. | YOJNA GUSAI
Published : Aug 6, 2019, 2:29 am IST
Updated : Aug 6, 2019, 2:29 am IST

Home minister’s speech accurately highlighted the monumental injustices of the past, says Modi.

According to the resolution moved by Amit Shah, Article 370 ceases to be operative from Monday itself.  (Photo: ANI)
 According to the resolution moved by Amit Shah, Article 370 ceases to be operative from Monday itself. (Photo: ANI)

New Delhi: Terming Article 370 of the Constitution the “root cause” of terrorism and coming in the way of development in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in the Valley, the Narendra Modi government on Monday took a bold and unprecedented step of revoking the contentious Article 370 — which accorded a special status to the state — and also proposed bifurcation of the state into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The abrogation of Article 370 was high on the BJP’s poll promises since the days of its earlier avatar, Jan Sangh, and was one of the core issues of the RSS and the Sangh Parivar. Blaming votebank politics for the continuation of a “temorary clause”, the BJP-led government asserted that it needed a “strong political will” to look beyond the votebank politics over the issue, which saw the state lagging behind. The government asserted that Jammu and Kashmir was “heaven on earth and will remain so”.

 

Though speculation was rife that the Modi government could revoke Articles 370 and 35(A), especially after its stunning Lok Sabha poll victory in May 2019, it was still suprising for many, even many BJP leaders, when the government made its intention known Monday morning.

Despite strong opposition by the Congress, TMC, NCP, Samajwadi Party, the Left parties and also by its NDA ally JD(U), the government’s resolutions and a bill in this regard in the Rajya Sabha found support from non-NDA parties, including the BJD, YSRCP, TRS and suprisingly from its former ally TDP, the Mayawati-led BSP and the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, which has been hugely critical of the Modi government on several issues. The Upper House of Parliament, where home minister Amit Shah announced the government’s decision, approved both resolutions and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, on which a division of votes was sought by the Opposition, with 125 members backing the legislation and 61 opposing it.

 

The government managed to keep the numbers in its favour in the Upper House, where it is yet to secure a majority, with some non-NDA parties supporting it and the JD(U) and the TMC staging walkouts, which brought down the total strength.

Both the resolutions and the Reorganisation Bill will now come up in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The House also approved the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill 2019, which was part of the business list of the day.

Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and will always remain the crown of the country”, Mr Shah claimed the move has “corrected a long overdue historic wrong”, with the BJP maintaing that the government’s move has in the “true sense led to the integration of the state” with the rest of the country. On queries on the UT status to Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Shah clarified that whenever the “situation becomes normal” and the “time is right”, the UT status will be reverted back to full statehood. Also, the Prime Minister is likely to address the nation on August 7 in this regard.

 

With the BJP-led NDA government fulfilling one of the Sangh Parivar’s core issues, RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat and his second-in-command Bhaiyya Joshi congratulated the government for “this bold initiative which was very much necessary in the national interest, including the state of Jammu and Kashmir”.

According to the resolution moved by Mr Shah, Article 370 ceases to be operative from Monday itself. “The President, on the recommendation of Parliament, is pleased to declare as from 5th of August 2019, all clauses of the said Article 370 shall cease to be operative...”, the resolution stated. The Reorganisation Bill proposed bifurcation of the state into two Union territories - Jammu and Kashmir division and Ladakh. The Ladakh UT will have no legislature, like Chandigarh, while the J&T UT will have a legislature like Delhi and Puducherry, where key subjects like law and order will remain with the Centre.

 

Amid a strong buzz in the state and in political circles for over a week that the BJP was planning to fulfill the Sangh Parivar’s core agenda of abrogating Article 370, a crucial Cabinet meeting was held at the Prime Minister’s 7 Lok Kalyan Marg residence here with members of the Cabinet Committee on Security meeting beforehand, before Parliament was apprised by Union home minister Amit Shah about the government’s decision. In the Rajya Sabha, Mr Shah clarified that the BJP had been seeking the abrogation of Article 370 since its earlier Jan Sangh days.

Rumours had started doing the rounds that the Modi government was planning some major step in regard to J&K, after additional troops were deployed in the state. The state administration, now under President’s Rule, had ordered curtailment of the annual Amarnath Yatra and asked pilgrims and tourists to leave the Kashmir Valley, citing terror threats, and outstation students were asked to leave the NIT campus in Srinagar and go home, and not to return till further orders.

 

Taking on the Opposition members, who opposed the government’s move, Mr Shah said while most of them opposed the move on technical grounds, including that it could be challenged in the Supreme Court, none of them specified how the article benefited the state or its people. In a meesage to the youth of J&K, particularly the Valley, Mr Shah said only few politicians and separatists had benefited from Article 370, which had only hindered development, tourism, education, job opportunities and health, and did not let democracy function. Mr Shah said the only thing that flourished because of Article 370 was terrorism.

Earlier, informing the Upper House of the government’s decision, Mr Shah also said President Ram Nath Kovind had signed the official notification abrogating Article 370, which the Congress termed as a “catastrophic step”, and said it marked a “black day” in the constitutional history of India. Two PDP members had to be physically removed from the House after they tore a copy of the Constitution after the announcement, a move which was condemned by all political parties.

 

Participating in the debate, Leader of the Opposition and former J&K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “I never thought that ever in my life I would see the head of the country being cut in this way... the crown of the country being taken off... the way an atom bomb explodes, such an explosion took place in the House today when the home minister arrived. You have wiped off a state from the map of this country.../” Accusing the government of making J&K a “non-entity”, Mr Azad said the Modi government had changed the history of a state and has “ruined old India for its New India”.

Tags: article 370, j&k bifurcation, modi government
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi