AFPIndian soldiers stand guard ahead of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Article 370
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 10:50
The Indian region of Jammu and Kashmir will not regain its special status. The Indian Supreme Court has determined this. These are exceptions that applied to the region until August 2019, when India withdrew the special privileges with a constitutional amendment.
Following the decision, India’s Supreme Court has directed the Election Commission to organize elections in the Jammu and Kashmir region by September 30, 2024.
Upon India’s independence in 1947, Kashmir’s autonomy was enshrined in Article 370 of the Constitution. According to this article, Kashmir was allowed to have its own constitution and flag and to make its own laws. Foreign policy, defense and telecommunications lay with the central government in New Delhi.
It was intended as a temporary item. Only a special district council that was created around independence could put an end to this temporary status, but that council dissolved itself in 1954. This made Article 370 a permanent article, as the Supreme Court of India also determined last year.
When Prime Minister Modi and his Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the elections in May 2019, the promise to remove Kashmir’s special rights from the Indian constitution was in the party manifesto. Modi calls the decision historic.
The BJP government says that by withdrawing partial autonomy, Kashmir can benefit from economic growth in India. Critics fear that the demography of India’s only predominantly Muslim region will change, now that outsiders are also allowed to settle there. Under its own laws, local land ownership and local government jobs were reserved for Kashmiris
It is also expected that the decision could lead to tensions in Kashmir. Local politicians have reacted with disappointment. Former Prime Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah say they will keep fighting.
In the run-up to the measure in 2019, India sent thousands of additional military troops to Kashmir and cut internet, telephone and television connections. Nearly 4,000 people were arrested, including politicians and activists. The situation is now stable and this year a record number of tourists traveled to the region. But protest remains suppressed and gatherings are prohibited.
When the British left their colony of British India, they divided the area into two parts: Pakistan with mainly Muslims and India with mainly Hindu and Sikh populations. This caused a huge, violent population movement.
The conflict is still going on today and now mainly revolves around Kashmir. Kashmir is an area in the Himalayas that was not divided when the British left. Both Pakistan and India invaded shortly after each other. Since then, the conflict between archrivals India and Pakistan has been at stake.
Today, Kashmir is divided into three parts, administered by Pakistan, India and (a small part) China. In addition to the symbolic value of the region, it is very important for raw materials for India and Pakistan. Both countries depend on the water that comes from the glaciers.
In Kashmir there is great dissatisfaction among the population about the government’s approach. Many militant groups have also been active for decades. The Supreme Court has recommended setting up a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate human rights abuses by both the state and others.