| Welcome to Global Village Space

Friday, February 16, 2024

As Supreme Court confirms, Kashmir’s special status is over

Four years ago, Modi's BJP abolished Article 370, a constitutional provision granting special status to the former state, allowing it to have its own constitution, flag, and autonomy in various matters except for foreign affairs and defense.

As Supreme Court confirms, Kashmir’s special status is over

On Monday, India’s Supreme Court affirmed the government’s 2019 decision, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The court also set a deadline of September 30 next year for local elections in the region. Jammu and Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority area, has been a focal point of tension with Pakistan since the independence of both nations in 1947.

The unanimous decision by a panel of five judges followed over a dozen petitions challenging the revocation and the subsequent division of the region into two federally administered territories: Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, which is predominantly Buddhist. This decision paves the way for elections in Jammu and Kashmir, a region that became more closely integrated with India following the government’s actions, aligned with the long-standing promises of Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Kashmir region, claimed in full by both India and Pakistan, has been a contentious territory for over 70 years, serving as a volatile flashpoint between the nuclear-armed neighbors. The Line of Control, a de facto border, divides the areas overseen by New Delhi and Islamabad.

Four years ago, Modi’s BJP abolished Article 370, a constitutional provision granting special status to the former state, allowing it to have its own constitution, flag, and autonomy in various matters except for foreign affairs and defense. The move was followed by the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories through a parliamentary vote, granting greater control to New Delhi. Simultaneously, Ladakh, a remote mountainous region, became a separate territory, with disputed claims by both India and China over parts of the region.

Modi hailed the judgment as a “beacon of hope”

The Supreme Court’s decision is seen as a boost for the government ahead of an impending general election by May. Opponents argued that only the constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir had the authority to decide on the region’s special status, questioning whether parliament had the power to revoke it. The court declared that special status was a temporary constitutional provision and ordered Jammu and Kashmir to return to being a state at the earliest opportunity.

More to read: Hamas says it is committed to right of Palestinian people to self-determination

Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud emphasized that Article 370 was an interim arrangement due to war conditions and a temporary provision according to the textual reading of the Indian constitution. Modi hailed the judgment as a “beacon of hope” and a commitment to a brighter future. However, political parties in Kashmir opposing the revocation expressed disappointment, with leaders vowing to continue their struggle for honor and dignity despite the setback. Increased security measures were implemented in the region, which has witnessed militant violence and protests since the insurgency against India began in 1989. Former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti expressed determination to persist in their fight despite the court’s decision.