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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/5/19

India revokes Kashmir's special status as a prelude to change demography

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Apparently taking cue from Israeli policy to implant Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government Monday (August 5) revoked the special status of Jammu Kashmir under articles 35A and 370 of the constitution, which forbid Indians from outside the region from buying land or permanently settling in the Muslim-majority territory.

Before the revocation, Article 35A of India's constitution permitted the Kashmir legislature to define permanent residents of the region. The Article forbade Indians from outside the state from permanently settling, buying land, holding local government jobs or winning education scholarships in the region.

The article also barred female residents of Kashmir from property rights in the event that they marry a person from outside the state. The provision also extends to such women's children.

By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in Kashmir and settle there permanently.

Kashmiris as well as critics of India's Hindu nationalist-led government see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.

Article 370 had also limited the power of the Indian parliament to impose laws in the state, apart from matters of defense, foreign affairs and communications.

Home Minister Amit Shah also moved a bill in parliament to bifurcate the state into two union territories--Jammu Kashmir as one and Himalayan Ladakh region as the other--directly ruled by New Delhi.

The constitutional provisions revoked on Monday were introduced decades ago and included reserved government jobs and college placements for residents, in an effort to keep the state from being overrun by people from the rest of India.

Amit Shah said Article 370 was used as "vote-bank politics" and the earlier governments lacked the political will to revoke it. "But the Modi government has the political will and we are not bothered about vote-bank politics," Shah said.

It's the beginning of disintegration of India, says Chidambaram

Senior Congress leader and ex-Indian Home Minister P. Chidamabaram said the government move of scrapping Article 370 was "the beginning of the disintegration of India if the current government continues to be in charge."

Monday was the worst day in the constitutional history and "the idea of India as a union of states is in grave danger," he was quoted by The Hindu as saying.

"What they have done is a constitutional monstrosity. People of India, people of every state, must wake up to the grave danger that was set as an example today by these completely unconstitutional and illegal resolutions. I want to warn every party, every state, every citizen of India that the idea of India as a union of states is in grave danger," he said at a press conference.

"They can dismember every state and break it up. This is the beginning of disintegration of India. I am sorry to use such strong words but this is the worst day in the constitutional history of India," he stated.

He accused the government of "dismembering" J&K, and claimed that every state in the country could be similarly dismembered.

"All that they have to do is to dismiss the elected government, impose President's rule, dissolve the elected Assemblies, Parliament takes the power of the State Assembly, government moves a resolution and Parliament approves it and the state can be broken up," said he, who is also a noted constitutional lawyer.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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