India Kashmir 20190804
Security personnel stand guard during restrictions, in Jammu, Monday, Aug 05, 2019. Image Credit: PTI

India's government has proposed revoking the special constitutional status of its portion of Kashmir, amid a heavy security crackdown  

The constitutional provision forbids Indians from outside the region from buying land or permanently settling in the Muslim-majority territory.

Some questions and answers on the issue:

What is happening?

The BJP government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed Monday revoking Article 370 of India's constitution, which confers special rights to permanent residents of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Modi's home minister, Amit Shah, says the long-standing rights that preceded India's independence from British rule in 1947 were "temporary" and that the government would abolish them.

Critics of such a measure say that in doing away with Article 370, the government hopes to change Kashmir's Muslim-majority demographics by allowing in a flood of new Hindu residents.

To tackle any law and order situation, the region has been put under a heavy security cover, with prohibitory orders in place against public assembly. Top pro-India leaders have been put under house arrest and internet and phone service have been cut.

Shah proposed revoking Article 370 amid an uproar in India's upper house of Parliament, and was expected to address the lower house on the issue later Monday.

Kashmir is divided between archrivals India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety.

Why now?

The Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys a sizeable majority in parliament after dominating the polls in the April-May elections.

Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) can now push through parliament its key policy goals. This includes the BJP's long-held promise to scrap Article 370, which it argues is necessary to integrate Kashmir with the rest of the country.

Critics say the BJP's latest move is a part of its agenda to please core supporters and win more votes by stoking Hindu nationalist fervour.

What will be the immediate impact?

The state of Jammu and Kashmir will be bifurcated into two separate Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir

The Union Territory (UT) for Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature but there will be no Assembly in Ladakh.

Home minister Amit Shah claims this had been done in view of constant threats of cross border terrorism.

The UT of Ladakh was a long pending demand of the people of the region and the decision was aimed at fulfilling the aspiration of the local population, the Minister said.

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What is Article 370?

The state of Jammu and Kasmir's special status in the Indian Union is defined under Article 370 of Indian constitution.

When India gained independence from Britain, Jammu and Kashmir initially chose to remain independent and signed agreements with India and Pakistan, as per the provisions of India Independence act 1947. However after an invasion bid from Pakistan, the state ended up signing an Instrument of Accession with Union of India.

Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications were the only three matters governed by the original instrument of accession and at the time of drafting the Indian Constitution it was proposed that only those provisions of the Indian constitution would apply to the State.

Article 370 was thus incorporated in the Indian Constitution to give special status to the state. This permits the state to draft its own constitution and restricted the Indian Parliament’s legislative powers on the state, related to matters outside the original Instrument of Accession.

Under Article 370 of the constitution, the state of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed complete autonomy and the state legislature was free to draft its own laws except in the areas of communications, defense, finance, and foreign affairs.


The special status, which has been in place since May 14, 1954, has helped Kashmiri Muslims and other communities preserve their strong sense of culture.

The ditching of the status has highlighted long-running fears that the local way of life and customs could be lost amid migration from other parts of the country.

Analysts say the Indian government wants to change the region's demographics by allowing non-Kashmiris, mostly Hindus, to buy land and settle there permanently.

It is also likely to worsen the simmering and bloody rebellion in Kashmir, where an insurgency over the past three decades has left more than 70,000 dead, mainly civilians.

What is Article 35A?

Article 35A of India's constitution permits the local legislature in Indian-controlled Kashmir to define permanent residents of the region. The article came into being in 1954 by a presidential order under the constitution's Article 370, which grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir state.

Article 35A forbids Indians from outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs or winning education scholarships in the region.

Article 35A also gave the J&K government the right to decide who qualifies as a ‘permanent resident’. The permanent resident is subject to some special rights.

The article, referred to as the Permanent Residents Law, also bars female residents of Jammu and Kashmir from property rights in the event that they marry a person from outside the state. The provision also extends to such women's children.

The Article also says none of the above laws can be held as void on the ground that it takes away the rights conferred on other citizens of the country.

While Article 35A has remained unchanged, some aspects of Article 370 have been diluted over the decades.

Critics of Article 35A say the provision did not have parliamentary sanction, and that it discriminates against women.

How did Article 35A came into being?

A 1927 order by the administration of the state of Jammu and Kashmir gave the state's subjects exclusive hereditary rights. Two months after India won independence from British rule in August 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh, the then-ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, signed a Treaty of Accession for the state to join the rest of the union, formalized in Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

Further discussions culminated in the 1952 Delhi Agreement, a presidential order that extended Indian citizenship to the residents of the state but left the maharaja's privileges for residents intact.

How can it be repealed?

Article 370(3) of the Indian constitution permits revocation of the law by presidential order. However, such an order must be introduced before the state's Constituent Assembly. Since that body was dissolved in 1957, experts have different views on the abrogation of the law, with some believing it needs approval by state lawmakers and others seeing a presidential order as sufficient.

The validity of Article 35A has been brought before India's Supreme Court. Bharatiya Janata Party members have said that if the court upholds the provision, the Modi-led government will revoke it by presidential order.

What could happen if it is scrapped?

If Kashmir's special status is repealed, people from the rest of India would have the right to acquire property in Jammu and Kashmir and settle there permanently.

Kashmiris fear this would lead to a demographic transformation of region from majority Muslim to majority Hindu.

What's next for Jammu and Kashmir?

Up next is a bill proposing splitting the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories - Jammu and Kashmir division, and Ladakh.

This means the entire region would lose its autonomous status and come under the direct rule of New Delhi.

The Jammu and Kashmir division will have its own assembly and elections but the national government will have control of local laws, including the maintenance of public order.

The tinderbox region was placed under a massive security lockdown and communications were cut ahead of Monday's announcement, on fears it would trigger fresh unrest.

How the state of Jammu & Kashmir will cease to exist

Following is the broad framework of how the state of Jammu and Kashmir will cease to exist after Centre's decision to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir:

As per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019,

* A Union Territory of Ladakh will be formed

* It will contain Kargil and Leh districts

* A Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be formed

* It will contain all the areas other than Ladakh and Leh.

Status of Governor:

* Governor of existing state of Jammu and Kashmir will be Lieutenant governor of UT of Jammu and Kashmir and UT of Ladakh

Representation in Council of States

* Four sitting RS members from J&K will be deemed to be members of UT of J&K. Their term remains unaltered.

Representation in Lok Sabha

* UT of J&K will have five LS seats

* UT of Ladakh will have one LS seat

L-G, Assembly of J&K

*The provisions contained in Article 239A, which are applicable to 'Union territory of Puducherry', shall also apply to the 'Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir'

* The legislative assembly will have 107 seats with direct elections. (J&K assembly earlier had 111 seats out of which 87 elected)

* 24 seats in Pakistan adminsterd Kashmir will remain vacant (same as in earlier assembly)

* L-G can nominate two women members to the assembly

* The term of the assembly will be five years (as against six years earlier)

* Central laws have been made applicable to UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh

Government proposes delimitation of assembly segments

* There will be reorganization of assembly segments and constituency maps will be redrawn

* At the moment Jammu region has 37 assembly segments and Kashmir has 46What Art 370 prevented

* Implementation of Right to Information

* Right to Education

* Comptroller & Auditor General's scrutiny

* Freedom from Sharia law for women in Kashmir

* Rights to panchayats

* Reservation of SC and ST; for minorities such as Hindus and Sikhs

* Indians from other states from buying or owning land in Kashmir

* Stopping Pakistanis from getting Indian citizenship by marrying Indian women from Kashmir

(With inputs from wires)