What Is India’s Article 370 In Kashmir: Things You Need To Know

What Is India’s Article 370 In Kashmir: Things You Need To Know
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News outlets around the world covered India’s revocation of Article 370 from its constitution, and the move has wide-reaching implications for the people of the disputed Kashmir region. Article 370 for Kashmir was important because it gave the India-controlled side some autonomy from New Delhi.

Because of Article 370, Kashmir was allowed to make its own rules about permanent residency, property ownership and basic rights. The article also kept Indians who weren’t residents of Jammu and Kashmir state from buying property there or living there. Kashmir was the only Muslim-majority part of India when the partition with Pakistan came down, so it was important for the region to have some level of autonomy from India.

According to the BBC, it was clear in Kashmir that something was happening in the first few days of this month. Officials deployed tens of thousands of more troops to the disputed region and canceled a major Hindu pilgrimage. Authorities also shut down schools, evacuated tourists, suspended internet and phone services, and placed regional political leaders under house arrest.

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At the time, it was speculated that New Delhi was going to scrap Article 35A of the Indian constitution, which gave certain privileges to Kashmir residents. However, the actual move went much deeper than that as New Delhi scrapped almost all of Article 370, including 35A. According to Al Jazeera, Article 35A allowed Kashmir’s local legislature to define who would be the region’s permanent residents. It also forbade outsiders from owning land there, settling permanently in the region, holding regional offices or earning scholarships there.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been opposed to Article 370 for quite some time and promised to revoke it as a campaign promise this year. Their goal in scrapping it is to integrate Kashmir more tightly into the rest of India. Many Kashmir residents believe the BJP wants to change the demographics of the Muslim-majority region by enabling non-residents to purchase property there.

The BBC argues that for Kashmir, Article 370’s revocation doesn’t mean much on a practical basis. Rather, it’s the symbolic importance that has triggered outrage on the ground. The fact that New Delhi deployed large numbers of troops to Kashmir and shut down schools ahead of the announcement demonstrates how concerned officials were about backlash.

In addition to revoking Article 370, New Delhi also said Jammu and Kashmir will stop being a state and instead of a lesser status of a union territory. It’s widely expected that this move will also cause great resentment among Kashmiris.

Kashmir Violence
By VOA News [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
News outlets have also been highlighting Pakistan‘s response to the revocation of Article 370 in Kashmir. Reuters quotes Pakistan’s army chief as saying that his country’s military will “go to any extent to fulfil our obligations” to support Kashmiris following India’s revocation of the region’s special status. He didn’t elaborate beyond that.

According to Agence France-Presse, at least six people have been injured in protests in Kashmir. Some travelers report that they heard gunfire in the region. However, the unprecedented communications blackout continues in the region, making it difficult for reports to get out.

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