The government on Monday revoked the special status of Kashmir in a bid to fully integrate its only Muslim-majority region with the rest of the country, the most far-reaching move on the troubled Himalayan territory in nearly seven decades.
Home Minister Amit Shah told Parliament that the federal government would scrap Article 370, a constitutional provision that grants special status for disputed Kashmir and allows the state of Jammu and Kashmir to make its own laws.
“The entire constitution will be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir state,” Shah said, ending the state’s rights to make its own laws. In a subsequent order, India’s President approved the government’s changes.
The step would also mean revocation of a bar on property purchases by people from outside the state. Such plans have in the past provoked warnings of a backlash in Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan.
The law had also reserved state government jobs for residents, as well as college places, in an effort to keep the state from being overrun by people from the rest of India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party had pushed for an end to Kashmir’s special constitutional status, arguing that such laws had hindered its integration with the rest of India.
Political leaders in Kashmir had warned that repeal of the law would trigger widespread unrest.
Since last year, Kashmir has been ruled by the Indian central government, after Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew from a coalition there with a regional party.
Monday’s announcement came hours after authorities launched a clampdown in Kashmir by suspending telephone services and placing state leaders under house arrest.
Telephone and internet services were suspended early on Monday, and state leaders wrote on Twitter that they had been put under house arrest.
On Sunday, a meeting of regional parties had vowed to safeguard the region’s special status, saying any move to scrap the privilege would amount to aggression against the people of the state.
Tension had risen since Friday, when Indian officials issued an alert over possible militant attacks by Pakistan-based groups.
Pakistan has rejected those assertions, but thousands of alarmed Indian tourists, pilgrims and workers streamed out of the region over the weekend.
In Parliament, Shah said that the government has a signed order from the President that allows privileges under Article 370 that Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed to be removed. Minutes later, he presented a bill to make Jammu and Kashmir a Union Territory and Ladakh as another Union Territory.
The gazette notification on the abrogation of Article 370 is titled The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019.
The order said:
“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of article 370 of the Constitution, the President, with the concurrence of the Government of State of Jammu and Kashmir, is pleased to make the following Order:—
1. (1) This Order may be called the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019.
(2) It shall come into force at once, and shall thereupon supersede the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 as amended from time to time.
2. All the provisions of the Constitution, as amended from time to time, shall apply in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir and the exceptions and modifications subject to which they shall so apply shall be as follows:—
To article 367, there shall be added the following clause, namely:—
“(4) For the purposes of this Constitution as it applies in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir—
(a) references to this Constitution or to the provisions thereof shall be construed as references to the Constitution or the provisions thereof as applied in relation to the said State;
(b) references to the person for the time being recognized by the President on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly of the State as the Sadar-i-Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir, acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers of the State for the time being in office, shall be construed as references to the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir;
(c) references to the Government of the said State shall be construed as including references to the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of his Council of Ministers; and
(d) in proviso to clause (3) of article 370 of this Constitution, the expression “Constituent Assembly of the State referred to in clause (2)” shall read “Legislative Assembly of the State”.”
On the bill suggesting the formation of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh Union Territories, the government has said that Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature and a Lt Governor. Ladakh will have no legislature.