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Sree Kumaran asked: Why J&K cannot be treated as any other State in the country by withdrawig the special status amending the Constitution?

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  • Arpita Anant replies: There is no denying that historically, the state has a claim to a special status. At the time of Independence, the National Conference, which was the torchbearer for integration of the State of Jammu and Kashmir with India, also advocated for a special status i.e. autonomy within the Union of India. Given the circumstances at that juncture, a special status was granted vide Article 370 of the Constitution. It was then elaborated on by the Constitution Application to Jammu and Kashmir Order 1950; and further reiterated in the Delhi Agreement of 1952.

    However, due to a combination of domestic and international developments, as Sheikh Abdullah moved away from a commitment to integration with special status, Nehru moved away from the commitment to autonomy. What followed were several years of a perceived ‘erosion of autonomy’. When the National Conference contested elections in 1996, it included the restoration of autonomy in its manifesto. More recently, the People’s Democratic Party too has articulated its own version of autonomy as part of its formula of self-rule.

    Given the history, and the fact that the idea of autonomy is central to the political discourse of two important, and what are called ‘mainstream parties’ of the state, it will not be possible to simply amend the Constitution to withdraw the special status at this juncture.