Once upon a time there was a king who ruled freely. But his defense was not strong. One day the King’s land was attacked. The aggressors raped women, killed children and destroyed everything that stood in their way in order to kill the ruler and get the land. 

The ruler was under great pressure from his own people. Therefore, in order to save himself and his people, he signed a pact with a neighboring nation, and was thus able to remove the aggressors from a major portion of his land. In the end, he signed a treaty with the country with the help of a third organization.

That Ruler was Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu & Kashmir; the aggressors were Pakistan and India was the country that helped the king to defend his own land. Later on, United Nations pressurized the Indian and Pakistani governments to end the war on Kashmir, which is exactly what happened in 1948. 

However, the real story of Kashmir is much more complex than the one that has been narrated here. One of the largest princely states of India at one point of time, Jammu and Kashmir had a Muslim majority but a Hindu ruler. The state’s army was confined to ceremonial purposes and internal matters were seen to by Maharaja Hari Singh, therefore, the region always enjoyed autonomy and people used to feel independent. In 1947, however, when the British were going to leave India, they asked all princely states to join either of the two dominions (that is, India or Pakistan) or stay independent.

Maharaja Hari Singh decided for Jammu and Kashmir to be an independent country in context of autonomy that Kashmir had always had even during the British rule.  However, the events that ensued in 1948 made Jammu and Kashmir and integral part of India.

Article 370 is follows in the footsteps of the British, providing a kind of autonomy to Kashmir over other states in India. Initially, Article 370 actually offered certain advantages to J&K which have today been marginalized due to the intervention from the judiciary. An example of this was the practice of having a Prime Minister for Jammu and Kashmir, a position that was later relegated to that of Chief Minister.

Article 370 states that:

· All provisions of the Article 238 (that was omitted from the Indian Constitution) will not apply to Jammu and Kashmir.

· All laws except those concerning defense, finance, foreign affairs and communication shall be required to be passed by the state government before they can be accepted as applicable.

· No person has the right to own property in Jammu and Kashmir, a digression from the original right which states that an Indian citizen can own property in any part of India. The right has been suspended in case of Jammu and Kashmir.

· The state can have its own flag.

· Article 370, along with Article 5 of the constitution (which specifies the territory of jurisdiction of the Indian Parliament), cannot be altered.

Even during the British Raj, Jammu and Kashmir had been a princely state with its own laws, finance and other provisions. It was not an integral part of India even during the Mughal period. In 1948, when the first war over Kashmir ended, the Pakistani army captured 30 percent of Kashmir’s land, which is now known as the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). It became the reason why a plebiscite that had been suggested by the UN could not be conducted.

Both countries still retain their viewpoints: India wants Pakistan to free their land, whereas the latter wants the Indian arm to retreat from the India Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Stuck between these two countries, the Kashmiris feel cheated. 30 percent of their land has been occupied by Pakistan, whereas 20 percent lies with China. As a result, Article 370 gives certain privileges to Jammu and Kashmir and brings Srinagar closer to Delhi keeping it an integral part of India.

Regardless, Article 370 is a debatable issue and needs to be discussed in depth. Now that BJP government is in power, the fate of 370 can be decided upon soon, but removing it is still a hard task for the government due to the regional parties of the region.