Author: JNANDEEP BORA
This article was submitted as an entry for the Literary and Artistic Competition organised by Lawctopus on Article 370.
The sudden scrapping down of Article 370 by the Modi 2.0 regime within less than 90 days of taking over power has taken over many by surprise. Though scrapping Article 370 and thereby withdrawing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was on the cards, as it was in the election manifesto of the Modiji’s second innings, yet its timing of scrapping is no way hassle-free.
Modiji’s close ally and Union Home Minister, Mr Amit Shah, introduced the Bill on scrapping of Article 370 on August 5 and on the very next few days it got the approval of both the houses of the Parliament.
The whole process would not only have a large bearing on the ‘Paradise on Earth’ that is Jammu and Kashmir but also would have a bearing on the contentious issues of Centre-State relationships. After the scrapping of Article 370, the State of Jammu and Kashmir has been bifurcated into two —- namely, Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory with its own legislature and Ladakh as a Union Territory is directly governed by the Union government.
Though there has been kept a provision of Legislature yet, now, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is under President’s rule with no legislature of its own especially after the scrapping of Article 370.
In the light of the above-mentioned facts let us analyse the various facets and its impacts of the whole process of the scrapping of Article 370 and its implications in the times to come.
Article 370 visa-vis the granting of special status to Jammu and Kashmir from a historical perspective:
Before the scrapping of Article 370, Jammu & Kashmir was granted a special status. Despite getting the special status via Article 370 of Part XIX of the Constitution of India, it formed a constituent state of the Indian Union by dint of Article 1 of the Indian Constitution, an article which describes India as a ‘Union of States’.
If we devolve into the history of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into the Indian union we find that at the end of the British raj on 15th August 1947, the State of Jammu and Kashmir became independent and remained as an independent state as it seceded neither to India nor to Pakistan.
On 20 October 1947, the Azad Kashmir Forces supported by the Pakistani Army attacked the frontiers of the state. Under such a situation of insecurity and uncertainty, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir decided to accede to the Union of India. Accordingly, an ‘Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India’ was signed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Maharaja Hari Singh on 26th October 1947.
Under this treaty of accession, the ruler of Kashmir surrendered only three subjects namely defence, communications and external affairs to the Dominion of India and the rest of the powers remained with the state of Jammu and Kashmir. As a result, of this Treaty of Accession with the dominion of India, Article 370 was incorporated into the Constitution of India.
It clearly states that the provisions as mentioned in Article 370 for the State of Jammu and Kashmir are only temporary and not permanent. It came into force on 17th November 1952. At the same time, Article 370 makes Article 1 and Article 370 itself applicable to the state of Jammu and Kashmir at once and authorises the President to extend the other articles to the state.
The scrapping of Article 370 and its impact on the Indian polity in the times to come: –
Jammu and Kashmir was a special status state till the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A and thus it enjoyed unequivocal powers as it had its own constitution, own code of law and other special provisions and hence it was outside the purview of the rest of the countries law. Moreover, the term of its legislature was that of 6 years instead of 5 years as is in the rest of the states of the country.
After becoming a Union Territory, it will be like other parts of the country, as it will be on equal terms as far as implementation of laws and governance are concerned. This development is bound to have multi-faceted ramifications on Indian polity. All the Indians from now onwards will be equal as no one is going to have such a special status in our country.
It is true that Article 371-A to Article 371-I provides ancillary special powers to states like Nagaland, Sikkim, Assam etc., to name a few in this regard. At the same time, these Articles domain are related to a particular aspect of the respective states and it does not engross upon such a huge domain of public life as was prevalent in Jammu and Kashmir till the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A. Thus, now, in India, its nationals can truly boast of its polity as it will be uniformly governed throughout the country.
The abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A is not only a matter of national politics but also, it has certainly had important international ramifications. Our immediate neighbour, Pakistan has been demanding that Jammu and Kashmir is an inseparable part of Pakistan. Thus, Pakistan has taken the Kashmir issue to the UN forum.
At the same time, Pakistan’s achievement in this regard is nothing as it has not been able to advance or inch forward even an inch with regards to pacifying the international community in its claim of making Jammu and Kashmir its own territory, Now after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A India has achieved the support of even Islamic countries like Afghanistan, Iran, UAE and also countries like Russia, Sri Lanka, Maldives etc.
As a whole, India’s global image as far as receiving support on the matter of abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A is unparalleled. Yes, Pakistan has tried to placate India’s position. At the same time, it has been cornered as UNO and the Communist superpower China has called it as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan as such giving no support to Pakistan.
Hence, India at present is at the focal point of international diplomacy as it has been appreciated in the global forum for abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A. At the same time, our immediate neighbour Pakistan’s plea of condemning the same move of abrogation of Article 370 and 35A has been thus cornered. Therefore, at present both Indian polity and its diplomacy are at a win-win situation.
The scrapping of Article 370 and its impact especially on the changing equations of Centre-State relations:
The relations between the Centre and the constituting states of the Indian Union has never been stable. As far as the former state of Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, the equations of power-sharing have always been diabolic. Now, after the scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A already the Bodos, the ethnic tribal groups of Assam, has already demanded a Union Territory status to the Bodoland Territorial Council areas.
Therefore, more such demands by other tribal autonomous groups or from other parts of the country cannot be wiped off in the near future. India’s federal structure has been termed as ‘Bargaining Federalism’ by Morris Jones. In this regard, this bargaining of states in matters relating to sharing of power by the Centre and the States must take place without any force or coercion. Otherwise, the very fabric of our federal structure would be in a jeopardy.
Article 1 of the Constitution of India defines India as a ‘Union of States’. As such, India is a conglomeration of states. In such a scenario, especially after the scrapping of Article 370 and 35A, it is expected that India will be able to maintain its federal structure by maintaining a coherent structure between the Centre and the States.
At the same time, in this regard, what is required is that the Centre must usher in, in the realm of Centre-State relationship such dynamic steps, so that the respective constituent States of our country do not feel aloof from the Union Government. In this way, especially in the path of a cordial Centre-State relationship, it can be concluded that strong India can be ushered in only by making the constituent States vibrant and self-sufficient, especially from the aspects of security, economic relations, resource sharing, et al.
Scrapping of Article 370 and the litmus test for the NDA regime:
After the scrapping of Article 370, yes, it is true that the present NDA regime has shown and proved its Legislative intent. Now the litmus test lies with the same NDA regime who is in power in the centre to win over the trust of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. This trust is something which is mostly missing since the time of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union of India.
At the same time, Article 370 and its scrapping vis-a-vis the curtailment of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir has been a subject of long debate and discussion. After scrapping Article 370 and turning Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh into two Union Territories, the Union Government has proved a point which is of daring to change the geographical and political map of the country. But will the same process will yield the expected results as desired by the NDA regime is a litmus test for the Union Government of the NDA led by the BJP.
The political and geographical map of the former special status state of Jammu and Kashmir has been meddled with. At the same time, now the centre is in a position where they cannot or would not like to undo what they have done. Therefore, it is for the NDA government of the Centre not to let the situation to escalate out of the hands of the Central government, so that, the whole process does not boomerang itself.
It is for the Central Government to overcome the dilemma as to what should be the order in ushering in peace in the trouble-torn Jammu and Kashmir and thereby ultimately lead to the path of development of the valley. The ultimate destiny of Jammu and Kashmir lies with India at this point of time.
At the same time, to usher in development it is necessary for the people of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the Union of India to understand what in common parlance in politics is stated: “will not force is the basis of the state”. Will here implies the will of both the masses of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the rest of India to assimilate with each other. If both sides succeed in this regard, then there is no reason as to why the present Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh cannot prosper and march ahead with the passage of time.
Will scrapping of Article 370 usher in the development of the valley of Jammu and Kashmir?
Prime Minister, Narendra Modiji, in his address to the nation on the eve of the dissolution of Jammu and Kashmir has promised to hold assembly election for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest and thereby usher in the all-round development of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
At the same time, it is imperative for the masses of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to coordinate and cooperate with the Union Government, so that, the all-round development of the valley can be ushered in.
In this regard, to achieve all-round development, what is required for the people of Jammu and Kashmir is to throw away the feeling of alienation with the rest of India and thereby joining in with the rest of India in the true sense of the term. This will be possible only in a situation of mutual trust and co-operation between the masses of Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh and the rest of India.
The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and particularly the valley of Kashmir is known as a paradise on earth with huge tourism potential. So, it is beyond any iota of doubt as to why the process of development in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and especially in the Kashmir valley cannot be ushered in.
This can be certainly done by implementing the development policies for both Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in the true sense of the term.
In a nutshell, Jammu and Kashmir as a Union Territory can usher in development and at this point of time, the process of all-round development of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh is certainly on the cards. It is therefore worth concluding that the Government of India has made its development agenda very clear especially in the light of the address to the nation of Prime Minister of the country.
Therefore, it is for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to cooperate with the Indian Union and thereby usher in development in this paradise of earth.
Politics does not act in a vacuum. The various players of politics act on a domain which in the realm of Political Science is known as ‘territory’. Thus, in this domain of politics i.e., ‘territory’, politics revolves and flourishes. Therefore, it is imperative that ‘territory’ on which politics revolves and flourishes is inhabited by people who have respect for the ground beneath their feet.
This fact of the territory is itself a contentious issue as far as the Indian northern frontiers, that is, the present Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are concerned.
Here it is imperative to mention that the inhabitants of the territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are yearning for the creation of an atmosphere of peace and amity since the days of its accession with the mainland India.
If violence and anarchy in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Ladakh, is the act of human folly then the yearning for peace and amity among the inhabitants of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh is something holistic and divine.
So, as a national of this great land India, we Indians should allow the holistic and divine desires of peace and amity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to prevail over the divisive tendencies, which can itself be considered as an act of human folly.
If we succeed in this endeavour it will certainly usher in the all-round development of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. This will certainly embolden India and its spirit of nationalism.