In tough times of 1947 when all the 560 odd newly independent British provinces had the choice of either going with Dominion India/Pakistan or to remain independent, the province of Jammu & Kashmir under Raja Hari Singh choose to remain independent.
This was a state with majority Muslim population ruled by a Hindu ruler and was on the border of both India and Pakistan.
Jinnah the creator of Pakistan argued that the Muslim majority state should join the separate land for Muslim but this proposal was rejected by the Maharaj. So to force it’s incorporation the Afridi tribe with support of the Pakistani administration attacked the the newly independent province.
This tumultuous scenario forced the hand of Raja Hari Singh to request for help from India as the state was incapable to defending itself from this likely invasion.
India under Pandit Nehru did offered the support on a condition that the state will sign the instrument of accession which the King readily agreed to. This is how the State of Jammu & Kashmir became integral part of Union of India.
Article 1 which states that “India i.e. Bharat shall be a Union of State” implies that all the states including the State of Jammu & Kashmir are integral part of India.
Similarly the preamble of constitution of Jammu & Kashmir also recognises the state to be integral part of India.
Being a secular personality and to prove the world that India is a democracy in true sense, the government back then decided to heed to the instrument of accession and incorporated Article 370 into the Constitution of India.
Article 370 “Temporary provision with respect of State of Jammu & Kashmir” which is in line with Instrument of accession gave some special powers to state including having its own flag, state citizenship and a separate state constitution.
Accordingly the state constitutional assembly was incorporated which debated and finalized a state constitution which among other provisions provided for Article 35A making it compulsory to be a citizen of the state for purchasing land in the state.
Though article 370 was meant to be a temporary provision until the state is fully integrated into India but it was being dragged even after 70 years of independence.
This special status to a state was not acceptable to a certain section of Indian society and the demands to repeal it started to make rounds.
As the support for repealing this article grew over the years, many parties including a national party incorporated this wish in its manifesto for the election.
Within 90 days of coming to power with a strongest mandate in recent years, BJP government under Modi- Shah duo implemented their plan and unilaterally changed the status of the state overnight.
The government took a leaf out of Israeli playbook and sent in Army, enforced section 144, shutting down the communication lines etc. before unveiling the presidential order of reorganization of State into two different union territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Also a bill was introduced in the Upper House which provided for amending Article 370 and same became an act within 3 days of introduction.
It was so quick a move that even before people realized, their special powers were robbed from them.
This move of the government was portrayed as a win for the nation and also showed to the world the resolve of this government.
Though the benefits are numerous both for the people of erstwhile state and whole of India as now people from around the nation can purchase land and settle in that region which will most certainly increase integration, more job opportunities can also be created by attracting private investments and reducing the state bureaucracy will definitely reduce corruption which means more money will trickle down for development of people.
This move was also compelled due to the current international developments like Trump offering of mediation on the Kashmir issue to Pakistan Prime Minister
Also the likely success of proposed talks on the status of Afghanistan which might lead to withdrawal of US troops from the region and Taliban getting a say in the Afghanistan government ultimately leading to less Indian influence in that region and more susceptibility to terrorist attacks on the Indian side of Kashmir.
Despite numerous benefits of the said move, the conversion of State into two union territories has been criticised by people around the world and in India.
Some criticism is due to the lockdown of Kashmir because of which normal life of people is affected, also the shortage of food, closure of emergency services like closure of hospitals etc. has been criticised.
But most importantly the criticism is because, this move is being made unilaterally by a few in the central government without even consulting the state representatives, making this conversion inherently against the spirit of democracy.
The pledge of “We the people” in preamble was vehemently ignored.
Special powers to a particular state is opposed to the spirit of the constitution as it infringes the Article 19 Right to Equality. But taking away this power suddenly will further annhiliate the already annhiliated group of people.
It might lead to more radicalization and will provide fuel to the already growing calls of freedom.
This move might also backfire if common people comes to the street protesting this sudden change of status after army troops are removed.
So it would have been better if the center would have taken the state representative into confidence.
To negate the blowback of this move, the government has to first improve the economic opportunities for the people, by creating jobs in the region, by investing more on infrastructural development projects.
Also elections should be conducted immediately so that people might feel that they have someone through which they can raise their concerns.
Grassroot leaders should be taken into confidence, through whom the messages against radicalization should be spread.
The decision is taken by the government, now the focus should be on remediating it’s negative effects so that people of Jammu & Kashmir can be fully integrated into the union of India.