On Monday, the Indian Supreme Court declared that Article 370, which had provided special status to the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), was a temporary provision, affirming that the occupied territory is an integral part of the country, as reported by NDTV.
The unilateral abrogation of the special status of the occupied valley by the government led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2019 led to the deployment of tens of thousands of troops to quell protests against this controversial move.
Following this, a series of petitions contested the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution. A five-judge bench, presided over by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, deliberated on the matter for 16 days, eventually reserving its verdict on September 5.
The CJI-led bench pronounced the verdict, asserting that the occupied territory became an integral part of India, citing evidence from Article 1 and 370 of the constitution.
The Supreme Court upheld the Indian government’s decision to revoke the semi-autonomous status of the disputed region, emphasizing that the IIOJK “does not have internal sovereignty.”
Furthermore, the court directed the country’s election commission to conduct elections in IIOJK by September 2024.
The repeal of Article 370 granted people from the rest of India the right to acquire property in the disputed territory and settle there permanently. However, Kashmiris perceive this as an attempt to alter the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.
Pakistan strongly condemned the move, pledging to “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” taken by India. For decades, India has stationed over half a million soldiers in the Himalayan disputed territory.
The suspension of IIOJK’s semi-autonomous status allowed individuals from other parts of India to buy land and secure government jobs there, a policy criticized by many as “settler colonialism.”
Critics argue that authorities have curtailed media freedoms and public protests, significantly restricting civil liberties. Despite criticism, Modi’s government maintains that the decision has brought “peace, progress, and prosperity” to the restive territory, aligning with the longstanding goal of consolidating New Delhi’s rule over IIOJK for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).