Articles 370 and 35A explained
In its manifesto released just before the general elections of 2019, Bharti Janata Party (BJP) had promised that it would abrogate article 370 and 35A from the constitution. Riding on a wave of popular support, Narendra Modi walked into the parliament, victorious once again. And just a few short months later, the BJP and Modi have followed through on the promise that had most appeal with its voter base.
The decision to abrogate articles 370 and 35A has been universally condemned as a unilateral act that will create further unrest in the turbulent Kashmir valley. For the people of Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK), the decision will erase any fleeting chance of peace. For the world at large, the decision sets a bad precedent that negating UN resolutions may be as easy as India made it look.
The question is what is article 370? What is included in article 35A of the Indian constitution? Here is an explainer.
- Under article 370, the citizens of Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) were provided special provisions and autonomy over all issues excluding defense, foreign affairs and communications.
- For the approval of any other issue not including the ones mentioned, the Indian parliament needs the states permission to apply any other laws.
- Hence, the people of IoK lived under a set of different laws than the rest of Indians, a scenario which is not uncommon as India has similar provisions for the people in tribal areas including Nagaland, Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh and other areas.
- Article 35A is an extension of article 370 passed in 1954 which empowered the state legislature of Jammu and Kashmir by giving them certain privileges.
- All the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir are given residential certification which entitles them to special benefits used for employment opportunities and scholarships.
- Outsiders are not allowed to buy property within IoK and locals were not allowed to sell their properties to any outsiders according to the article. The law also does not give women the authority to buy land in the event that they marry an outsider.
Following the abrogation of Article 370 in the Indian parliament, more than 10,000 troops were sent to IoK, with media reports that 25,000 more may be deployed in what is already one of the most heavily militarized areas in the world. Two former chief ministers of the state – Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti – who have both historically been pro-India, were placed under house arrest.
Most of the valley, including Srinagar, has been placed under curfew. Internet and other communication services have been cut off in the valley. Most mobile networks have been ordered to switch off services.
Visitors have been told to return to their home states. Roads have been barricaded with barbed wire and other obstacles.
Public rallies and meetings have been banned, with educational institutes closed indefinitely.