New Delhi: Laying to rest all speculations over the deployment of additional paramilitary forces in J&K, the Centre on Monday announced its decision to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution, which takes away with it Article 35A as well. Additionally, J&K has now been split into two Union Territories namely Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh without one.
Media reports pointed out how, by scrapping Article 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has fulfilled Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS) founder Syama Prasad Mukherjee’s dream of “one nation, one symbol and one Prime Minister”.
The entire Valley was under curfew and political leaders, including former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti, Omar, and Farooq Abdullah, were detained after being put under house arrest.
Rajya Sabha witnessed ruckus as soon as Home Minister Amit Shah proposed the revocation of Article 370. Shah said that it was time to geographically ‘reorganise’ J&K.
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, under house arrest, tweeted, “Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy. Decision of J&K leadership to reject 2 nation theory in 1947 & align with India has backfired. Unilateral decision of GOI to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K. It will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent. GOIs intentions are clear. They want the territory of J&K by terrorising its people. India has failed Kashmir in keeping its promises.”
Two of her party MPs, Mir Fayaz and Nazir Ahmed Laway had to be sent out of the House as one of them tore up his kurta and the other, a copy of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, Shah took on the Opposition and said, “Article 370 hatane mein ek second ki bhi deri nahi karni chahiye. Under the umbrella of Article 370, three families looted J&K for years. Leader of Opposition (Ghulam Nabi Azad) said Article 370 connected J&K to India, it’s not true. Maharaja Hari Singh signed J&K Instrument of Accession on 27 Oct 1947, Article 370 came in 1954.”
Responding to the Opposition’s charge of dabbling in politics of religion, Shah said, “We don’t believe in politics of religion, what vote-bank politics? Only Muslims live in Kashmir? What do you want to say? Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists all live there. If 370 is good it is good for all, if it is bad then it is bad for all.”
He pointed out how Central schemes had failed to reach J&K, he said, “Ayushman Bharat scheme is there but where are the hospitals? Where are doctors and nurses? (in Kashmir) Those supporting 35A, please tell me which famous doctor will go and live there and practise? He can’t own land or house nor his children can vote.”
Interestingly, while the BSP supported the government’s move and so did friend-turned-foe TDP, ally JDU did not. JDU’s K C Tyagi said, “Our chief Nitish Kumar is carrying forward the tradition of JP Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia & George Fernandes. So our party is not supporting the bill moved in the Rajya Sabha today. We have different thinking. We want that Article 370 should not be revoked.” BJD and AIADMK also came out in support of the decision.
Meanwhile, the Centre is closely monitoring the security in J&K. Reports said NSA Ajit Doval is to visit the Valley along with other senior security officials to review the situation on the ground.
All security forces across the country are on high alert following the government’s decision. The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order to Chief Secretaries & Director Generals of Police (DGPs) of all state/UTs and Commissioner of Police, Delhi for instructions stating, “It is requested to take special care to ensure the safety and security of residents of Jammu & Kashmir, especially the students in various parts of the country.”
On its part, the Ministry of External Affairs has briefed the United Nations P5 (permanent five) nations – the US, UK, Russia, China and France – on the developments in order to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding. ANI reported, “Senior officials of Ministry of External Affairs are briefing envoys of several countries, including P5 (China, France, Russia, UK & US), on proposals related to Article 370 of Indian Constitution & administrative reorganization of J&K that were introduced in Parliament today.”
Pakistan claimed it would exercise all possible options to “counter the illegal steps”. “Pakistan reaffirms its abiding commitment to the Kashmir cause,” said its Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.
More action can be expected on Tuesday as the decision comes up for discussion in the Lok Sabha. A leading daily also pointed out that PM Modi would most likely address the nation on August 7, after the discussion in the Lower House.