2019 would be remembered as an important year in India's history. This has been the year when the parliament cleared several important bills including the one that scrapped Jammu and Kashmir's special status. Another law that came into force this year and made headlines is the Citizenship Amendment Act that for the first time makes religion the test of citizenship in India. This has also been the year when Prime Minster Narendra Modi was elected for a second term.
Here's a quick rewind to some of the major news events of 2019
- Second Term For Prime Minister Narendra Modi: In May, world media covered Prime Minister Narendra Modi's resounding election victory as he won a second term. The national polls saw a high-pitched, bitter poll campaign as several opposition parties tried to forge an alliance against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance that ended up winning a massive majority - 353 seats in 543-member Lok Sabha.
- Rahul Gandhi Resigns As Congress Chief, Then A Comeback For Sonia- After a series of defeats in the state polls in the last few years, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections dealt another blow to the Congress. It ended up with just 52 of 543 seats. After national election result, Rahul Gandhi claimed responsibility for the national election debacle and said he would quit as the party chief. In the next two months, several resignations followed amid calls for Rahul Gandhi to resume his post. Finally, in August, his mother Sonia Gandhi took over as the interim Congress chief again.
- Jammu and Kashmir's Special Status Scrapped: In the most far-reaching move on Jammu and Kashmir in nearly seven decades, the centre on August 5 scrapped the state's special status and divided it into two union territories - Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Restrictions were put in place across Jammu and Kashmir and hundreds of political leaders were detained, including former chief minsters Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and PDP's Mehbooba Mufti. Mobile internet services in many parts of Jammu and Kashmir are still blocked.
- Final Assam Citizens' List Released: After a six-year process of preparing a new Assam National Register of Citizens or NRC, the government on August 31 came out with a list that included over three crore people and left out over 19 lakh. A draft version of the NRC, released in July, had excluded more than 40 lakh people or 12.15 per cent of the state population. In the final list, the number came down to 19 lakh. Those left out have to prove their citizenship amid fears of detention.
- Ayodhya Disputed Land Given For Temple In Landmark Verdict: In a historic verdict on the century-old legal dispute over the land in Ayodhya where the 16th century Babri mosque stood before it was razed in 1992 by Hindu activists, the Supreme Court in November said that the disputed land belongs entirely to the deity Ram Lalla or infant Lord Ram. A five-judge constitution bench also ruled that a "prominent site" in the holy town in Uttar Pradesh will be allotted for a new mosque. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Ayodhya judgement was like a golden chapter in the history of the nation and the Supreme court has shown strong determination. In December, the top court dismissed all petitions seeking review of its verdict.
- India's Ambitious Moon Mission Suffers Setback- Chandrayaan 2, India's third expedition to a celestial body after Chandrayaan 1 and Mars Orbiter mission, suffered a setback on September 7 when lander Vikram lost communication with the ground station. A successful landing would have made India just the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the lunar surface. This was nearly a month after the July 22 launch of Rs 970-crore mission. The snag was reported minutes before Vikram was expected to land on the lunar surface. Earlier this month, Shanmuga Subramanian, a Chennai-based engineer, alerted NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) about the presence of the debris of the lander of Chandrayaan 2. Despite a hard landing, ISRO says its has achieved 95 per cent of the mission's objectives.
- Maharashtra Government Formation And A Dramatic Turn Of Events: Elections were held this year in several states including Haryana, Maharashtra and Chhatisgarh that voted recently. However, Maharashtra saw a dramatic turn of events after the poll results as the BJP fell apart with its decades-old ally Shiv Sena over power-sharing. From ideologically different Sena and Congress coming together to BJP's Devendra Fadnavis taking oath as the Chief Minister at an unannounced event - Maharashtra saw it all. Eventually, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in as the Chief Minister, nearly a month after the poll results, when Mr Fadnavis confessed he did not enough numbers to clear the floor test ordered by the Supreme Court.
- Protests Against Citizenship Amendment Act- As the year came to an end, the parliament on December 11 cleared yet another controversial legislation - the Citizenship Amendment Act, which makes religion test for citizenship for the first time in India. The government says the CAA will help non-Muslims minorities who fled religious persecution in Muslim-dominated Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh get Indian citizenship easily. Protests against the law across the country intensified after police clampdown on students at Delhi's Jamia Millia University and Aligarh Muslim University on December 15. Admitting illegal migrants as citizens on the basis of religion violates the fundamental rights to life and equality, critics have said.
- BS Yediyurappa's Karnataka Comeback: The BJP's BS Yediyurappa was sworn in for the fourth time as Karnataka Chief Minister in July after the fall of the 14-month-old Congress-Janata Dal Secular coalition in a test of strength. Before his swearing-in, the 76-year-old changed the spelling of his name from "Yeddyurappa" to "Yediyurappa". Fifteen legislators had set the Congress-JDS coalition's downfall in motion with mass resignations. The BJP had formed the government with a narrow majority but its December bypoll win has given the party enough numbers in the assembly.
- UN Court Stays Kulbhushan Jadhav Execution: In a big win for India, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in July that Pakistan must review the death sentence of Kulbhushan Jadhav. His death sentence "should remain suspended until Pakistan effectively reviews and reconsiders the conviction and sentence," said the UN court, agreeing with India's stand that Pakistan had violated the Vienna convention by denying consular access to Jadhav after his conviction in a "farcical" closed trial. 49-year-old Jadhav was arrested by Pakistan in March 2016 and accused of espionage, a charge India has rubbished. A year later, he was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court.