Jammu and Kashmir will be a Union Territory with an assembly while Ladakh will be a Union Territory without an assembly, under the proposal.
The special status given through the constitution to Kashmir has ended, the government said today. Home Minister Amit Shah informed parliament that Article 370 has been abolished with the President signing an order that comes into effect “at once.”
The government has also said it wants parliament to clear a proposal that bifurcates the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories which are effectively semi-states. Jammu and Kashmir would be one union territory with its own legislature, like Delhi; Ladakh would be the other but without its own assembly.
Mr Shah said the union territory status proposed for Jammu and Kashmir is based on an assessment of the “prevailing security situation” fueled by cross-border terrorism.
Article 370 gave Kashmir its own constitution and restricted the centre’s powers to deciding matters of defence, communications and external affairs. For any other area, the centre had to get the state legislature’s approval.
Kashmir also had, through Article 35A of the constitution, the right to decide through its own legislature who is a permanent resident of the region; it barred outsiders from buying property or claiming government jobs and educational scholarships.
The BJP holds that these provisions are “constitutionally vulnerable” and that they are discriminatory and have inhibited the development of the state.
The order removing Article 370 came after tension in the Kashmir Valley racheted with thousands of paramilitary troops being flown into the area in the last few days. Last night, senior regional leaders including former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were placed under house arrest. Internet and phone services have been cut off and schools and offices have been ordered to remain shut.