On 5th August 2019, India witnessed an event that must be cherished for centuries. The Modi government abrogated the provisions of Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution which accorded special status to the erstwhile state, whereas bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir into Union territories.
This was a decades-old demand of Jan Sangh and BJP, and finally, they clinched an achievement that nobody has ever dreamt of. However, the opposition, especially the Congress and Kashmir-based parties such as PDP and National Conference didn’t take this development lightly. Actually, their long-term clout was demolished with a simple amendment in the provisions of the earlier law.
However, in this article, we will share the behind-the-scenes story of this entire process, which was carried out with such precision that even the NDA ministers were not aware of it.
Modi Government abrogate Article 370 and 35 A?
August 4, 2019, was the day, there was a tremendous uproar in the parliamentary complex, the Home Minister Amit Shah convened a confidential and high-level meeting, in which NSA Ajit Doval, Home Secretary, RAW, and IB Chief was called.
The meeting began with a statement made by then US President Trump on August 2, 2019, in which he said that he was ready to mediate between India and Pakistan. This statement had many strategic and diplomatic implications for India. The USA was suddenly speaking on Kashmir Issue, which raised the alarm in the MHA.
Some important discussion happened and then this meeting was over.
There was an uproar in the media and in social media for the last 3-4 days, that ‘something big is going to happen in Kashmir’.
On 5th August 2019, at 9:30 am, the CCS (Cabinet Committee of Security) meeting was held at the Prime Minister’s residence. After that, at about 10:30 a.m., the Home Minister left for Parliament. The opposition and media were speculating that something would happen in the Lok Sabha, but Amit Shah entered the Rajya Sabha wearing a brown jacket. No one knew what was going to happen that day.
And then at about 11 o’clock, Amit Shah stood up, and he first moved a proposal to scrap the disputed provisions of Articles 370 and 35A, and then he also moved a proposal to divide the state of Jammu and Kashmir into 2 new Union Territories.
The opposition, the media, and even the supporters of the government were clueless. While the opposition started creating a ruckus, some experts described the move as a knee-jerk reaction or an unprepared step. But the preparation for what happened on August 5, 2019, had been going on for the last several years.
When Modi again became PM with a better mandate in 2019, he made Amit Shah the home minister to orchestrate a special mission. In the month of June itself, 5 teams were formed to work on this mission.
The First team consisted of the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, and the Defence Minister. The Second team was formed, in which there were six other BJP leaders, including Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Bhupender Yadav, Prahlad Joshi, Jitendra Kumar, and Hemant Biswa Sarma. Their job was to convince the opposition and to get a majority in the Rajya Sabha in any such situation.
The Third team was an executive team whose job was to deal with on-ground repercussions. The members of the team were NSA Doval, RAW Chief Samant Goel, IB Director Arvind Kumar, Home Secretaries Rajiv Gauba, and Gyanesh Kumar (Additional Secretary- Jammu and Kashmir Charge). The job of all these officers was to handle the law and order system, prevent any move from Pakistan or China, rein in terrorist incidents, provide logistics support, and meet every need of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Fourth one was a Legal Team, which included Arun Jaitley, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Attorney General Venugopal, Law and Justice Secretary Alok Srivastava, and Additional Secretary (Law) RS Verma. Apart from these, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad was the legal advisor of this team, the job of this team was to make a legally strong draft so that it could not be removed even by the Supreme Court.
The Fifth team was from the Ministry of External Affairs, which included External Affairs Minister Jaishankar and Minister of State for External Affairs Muralitharan. Their job was to tell the world about this change, to defend India, and demolish any kind of diplomatic assault.
How did they do it?
2nd August was a critical day, as US President Trump unexpectedly talked about mediation on the Kashmir issue, which was not going down the throats of the Indian government and intelligence agencies.
A brief call was made by PM Modi to the Home Minister, and the go-ahead was given. All five teams had become active, Amit Shah’s war room was set up in the Parliament Office, from where they were on the 24×7 open line with the PMO and the Solicitor General.
At the LOC and the International Border, the Army and other paramilitary forces were asked to remain on high alert, with several contingents taking positions in the sensitive areas of the Kashmir Valley.
Along with this, the positioning of large weapons was also being done on the LOC, all the air force stations in north India were on high alert, while many navy warships had taken positions in the Arabian Sea and bay of Bengal. In a way, the army was ready for war.
The then Principal Secretary (Home) of Jammu and Kashmir, Shaleen Kabra, was asked by the MHA to immediately stop the Amarnath Yatra and all the pilgrims were asked to return immediately. The civil service and the army were asked to help the passengers.
On the night of Sunday, August 4, the PM, HM, and Ajit Doval, spoke by phone, and then after the CCS meeting the next morning, it was agreed to introduce the bill in the Rajya Sabha. Because Team No. 2 had said that the Opposition had been managed. Now the bill will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha, there is an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha.
The night of August 4 was also difficult for the Ministry of External Affairs, the entire night was worked out on the communication draft, and they were contacting other governments. The governments of some of the big countries were informed that we were going to take a particular action, and the assurance of support was also taken.
After the CCS meeting, Amit Shah reached the Rajya Sabha, and around 11 o’clock he changed these provisions forever by delivering a historic speech and putting an end to this 70-year-old anomaly.
As soon as Amit Shah started giving speeches on the issue, the External Affairs Ministry swung into action, and communication started being sent to all countries. The big countries were informed through calls, information was given on every aspect of this law so that any kind of diplomatic backlash could be eliminated.
At the same time, orders were given to Team 3, the internet was banned in Jammu and Kashmir, Section 144 was imposed, and Ajit Doval remained in the Kashmir Valley for a few days. Preparations for winter, logistics, rationing, etc. were started. At the same time, political leaders began to be arrested, and those who were suspected of rioting were arrested and put in jails in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
At the same time, due to the massive efforts of Team 5, all the big countries, the 5 permanent members of the UN, the NATO countries, the European Union countries, the OIC, and other Islamic countries also supported India on this issue or remained silent.
The legal preparation of Team 4 was so strong that no one could do anything against this law, even the judiciary could not find any loophole in this law. Team 2, whose job was to seek political support, did a great job, and almost every party, except a few parties, voted in support of these bills. Even the Aam Aadmi Party did not dare to oppose them.
So this was the preparation to remove Articles 370 and 35A, it was not a knee-jerk reaction, which was taken overnight, there was clinical planning behind it, which took 3-4 years to materialize. In the meantime, questions were also raised about the Prime Minister, and the formation of the government with the PDP was also questioned. But they knew from day one how to eliminate this problem, and they did it with unprecedented precision and secrecy.