What is Article 370 of the Constitution that gives special status to Kashmir ?

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What is Article 370 of the Constitution that gives special status to Kashmir ?


The Narendra Modi government has decided to revoke the Article 370, which grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, moving ahead with its plan to fundamentally change J&K’s relation to India despite its potential to cause massive unrest in the region.

The BJP has been opposing the special status for Jammu & Kashmir for a long time. It had earlier claimed that it could not repeal Article 370 during Atal Bihari Vajpayee government due to lack of majority. The BJP has been opposing it since Jan Sangh days.

Dealing with Article 370 in the chapter on Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP manifesto in 2014 said "the BJP reiterates its stand on the Constitution provision and will discuss this with all stakeholders and remains committed to the abrogation of this article”. The return of Kashmiri Pandits to the land of their ancestors with full dignity, security and assured livelihood will figure high on the BJP's agenda, it added.

WHAT IS ARTICLE 370?

This Article specifies that except for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Communications and ancillary matters (matters specified in the Instrument of Accession), the Indian Parliament needs the state government's concurrence for applying all other laws. Thus, the state's residents lived under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians.
Similar protections for unique status exist in tribal areas of India, including those in Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Nagaland. However, it is only in the case of Jammu and Kashmir that the accession of the state to India is still a matter of dispute between India and Pakistan, still on the agenda of the UN Security Council and where the Government of India vide 1974 Indira-Sheikh accord committed itself to keeping the relationship between the Union and Jammu and Kashmir within the ambit of this Article.

WHY IT WAS INCORPORATED

Dr. Amitabh Mattoo, former Vice Chancellor of Jammu University, in an article for The Hindu explained it thus:

"First, why was Article 370 inserted in the Constitution? Or as the great poet and thinker, Maulana Hasrat Mohani, asked in the Constituent Assembly on October 17, 1949: "Why this discrimination please?" The answer was given by Nehru's confidant; the wise but misunderstood Thanjavur Brahmin, Gopalaswami Ayyangar (Minister without portfolio in the first Union Cabinet, a former Diwan to Maharajah Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, and the principal drafter of Article 370). Ayyangar argued that for a variety of reasons, Kashmir, unlike other princely states, was not yet ripe for integration. India had been at war with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir and while there was a ceasefire, the conditions were still "unusual and abnormal”. Part of the State's territory was in the hands of "rebels and enemies”

(This article was published by News18.com in 2014. It is being re-purposed and published to explain in detail the status of Article 370 with regard to Indian Union and special status granted to the state of Jammu and Kashmir).