Here’s how scrapping Article 370 will change Jammu & Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir will be the largest union territory in the country and will be followed by Ladakh—in terms of area—after the Centre's move to bifurcate the state.
The Rajya Sabha on Monday evening approved the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 paving way for the bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
This means that Jammu and Kashmir would be turned into a Union Territory with a legislature, similar to Delhi and Puducherry, and the Ladakh division would be made a separate Union Territory without legislature, akin to Chandigarh and most other Union Territories.
A state has its own elected government but a Union Territory is an administrative unit controlled and regulated by the Union Government. There are 29 states and seven Union Territories in India currently. However, after this bifurcation, there will be 28 states and nine Union Territories in the country.
The Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir will have a Lieutenant Governor and the maximum strength of its Assembly will be of 107 seats which will be further enhanced to 114 after a delimitation exercise.
The current effective strength of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly is 87, including four seats falling in Ladakh region, which will now be a separate UT without a legislature. Twenty-four seats of the Assembly continue to remain vacant as they fall under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
The ramifications of the decision are not just that Article 370 is sought to be scrapped but also that Article 35A is made redundant. Article 35A empowers the state of Jammu & Kashmir to define who is a “permanent resident” of the state and who is not. The proposal was met with a lot of protest from Kashmiri leaders, most of who opined that the decision will have disastrous consequences.
This means that the state’s residents will be governed under the same set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians.
With Kashmir's special status gone, people from anywhere in India be able to buy property and permanently settle in the state.
Article 360, which allows the centre to declare financial emergency in any state, will also apply to Jammu and Kashmir. What’s more, the Right to Information (RTI) Act will be applicable to the state and the minorities will have their seats reserved.
Earlier, at least 8,000 paramilitary troops were airlifted to Jammu and Kashmir from different parts of the country today. This is in addition to the over 30,000 troops that were brought into the state over the past week.
Tell you what, Kashmir is already the most densely militarized zone in the world. There are more than 7 lakh Indian military personnel are deployed in the state. Guess what, the population of Jammu & Kashmir is 1.25 crore, meaning there’s one soldier for every 17 residents!