The Narendra Modi-led BJP government’s twin decisions to scrap Articles 370 and 35A that provided special powers to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and splitting the state into two Union Territories left the Opposition in complete disarray. While it was expected that the government would announce some big decision on Kashmir, it perhaps did not see both decisions coming together. Article 370 was key in bringing the now-former state with India in 1947. What was earlier the state of Jammu and Kashmir, of which Ladakh was also a part, has been divided into two Union Territories. While Jammu and Kashmir will be one Union Territory with a legislature, Ladakh shall be a separate Union Territory now without a legislature.
The signals coming from the Valley over the past few days bore ominous signs of what was to come – the buildup of troops in Jammu and Kashmir, communication services including mobile and internet connectivity being snapped or the fact that three former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were put under house arrest along with other senior regional leaders after an all-party meeting held at senior Abdullah’s residence yesterday.
While Article 370 already stands scrapped following a Presidential order, the bill to bifurcate the state is under discussion in the Rajya Sabha currently. The government hopes to get it passed in the Rajya Sabha by today evening. The passage of the bifurcation bill and the scrapping of Articles 370 and 35A meets the long-pending demands of a majority of Indians as well as the BJP’s poll promise in its manifesto and will have some far-reaching consequences.
Here are the big implications
1 – The scrapping of Article 370 and Article 35A, which goes as a consequence of Article 370 revocation, integrates Jammu and Kashmir with India. The Jammu and Kashmir legislature will now have to follow the Constitution of India. It will have not have separate laws. Earlier, the former state was given special status which seizes to exist now.
2 – Along with Article 370, Article 35 A has also been scrapped. This act denied property rights to women who married outside the state. After this act been scrapped, there will be no such restrictions. Those from outside the state can now purchase immovable property in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
3 – Earlier the Governor used to be constitutional head of the state. Now that Jammu and Kashmir is a Union Territory, the Governor will be replaced by the Lieutenant Governor as is practice in other UTs in the country like Delhi and Puducherry.
4 – While Jammu and Kashmir will continue to have its own legislature, it will not have the power of a state government. The elected government will now have the power like governments of Delhi and Puducherry. This means that bulk of the power will rest with the Centre, especially law and order.
5 – Repealing of Article 370 also marks the end of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) will be will be replaced by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in both Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Earlier, IPC was not implemented as it was not part of Article 370. RPC was introduced when it was under Dogra dynasty with Ranbir Singh as the ruler.
6 – The abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir paves way for the idea of One Nation, One Flag. The Indian tricolour will now be the only flag hoisted in Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier Jammu and Kashmir had its own flag which adorned all government offices.
7- The scrapping of Article 370, and Article 35A as a consequence, also makes it possible for anybody to secure government jobs, and admissions to government-run institutions in Jammu and Kashmir. Article 35A barred non-citizens from these privileges.