New Delhi: The government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and change the administrative structure of Jammu and Kashmir was in the works for a while, but pushed along by a series of seemingly precipitous events.
“The issue has been on the agenda of the NDA government for some time now. Perhaps people have been surprised by its timing," one person aware of the development said, requesting anonymity.
After the Modi-led government tested the waters between 2014 and 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) decided to promote the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A as a major poll promise in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
“We are committed to overcome all obstacles that come in the way of development and provide adequate financial resources to all the regions of the state. We reiterate our position since the time of the Jana Sangh to the abrogation of Article 370," the BJP said in its election manifesto.
Soon after Amit Shah took charge as Union home minister on 1 June, the ball was set rolling, especially in the wake of the Pulwama suicide attack—with security forces taking the biggest hit and the nation baying for revenge.
“This decision is a tribute to all the patriots who made the supreme sacrifice for a united India," Shah said after the Rajya Sabha passed the amendments to Article 370.
“In 2014 and 2019 the issue was in the BJP manifesto. But in 2019, there was greater urgency to see it through. When the new home minister took over, the matter was dealt with more seriously, especially because we had just been hit in the Pulwama attack," said the person cited above.
The Centre might have taken a decision on the matter later this year, but the pressure mounted following US President Donald Trump offering to mediate in Kashmir—both offers were rejected by India.
Within just a few days, the Centre called off the Amarnath Yatra and rolled out troops to pre-empt a backlash.
“The Yatra was stalled because there was a genuine terror threat and the Centre did not want to risk the lives of the people. But at the same time, following the (Pakistan PM)Imran-Trump meet and Trump’s comments, there was a sense that there needed to be a resolution, and soon. The Line of Control was also heating up and it appears there was a great sense of urgency," he added. The Union home ministry declined to comment on the matter.