• Government to repeal Article 370, divide Jammu & Kashmir into two union territories

    The Leaflet

    August 5, 2019

    The Centre today proposed to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. Jammu and Kashmir is to be one Union Territory and Ladakh will be a separate Union Territory, according to the  proposal.

    Amid acrimonious scenes in the Rajya Sabha, Home Minister Amit Shah made the announcement after an hour-long cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday morning.

    Later in the Rajya Sabha, he introduced the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill that proposes that the UT in Ladakh will have no legislature like Chandigarh whereas Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature like Delhi and Puducherry.

    “The Ladakh Division of the State of Jammu and Kashmir has a large area but is sparsely populated with very difficult terrain. There has been a long-pending demand of the people of Ladakh to give it the status of a Union Territory to enable them to realise their aspirations,” a statement from Home Minister Amit Shah said. “The Union Territory of Ladakh will be without Legislature,” the statement said.

    “Further, keeping in view the prevailing internal security situation, fuelled by cross-border terrorism in the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir, a separate Union Territory for Jammu and Kashmir is being created. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be with a legislature,” the statement added.

    Shah also moved a resolution in the Rajya Sabha to make Article 370 that gives special constitutional status to the restive state—which is currently under President’s rule—and allows all laws passed by the Indian Parliament to be first be ratified by the state assembly, inoperative.

    While the Supreme Court is currently seized with multiple cases relating to Article 370 and Article 35A, the government used the power given by the same Article to the President to make the constitutional provision ineffective.

    Pertinently, section 3 of Article 370 empowers the President to declare the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under the Article inoperative any time.

    Reactions

     Following the Home Minister’s announcement, members of Parliament from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Trinamool Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam( DMK) staged protest dharna on the floor in the well of Rajya Sabha. Two PDP MPs Mir Fayaz and Nazir Ahmed Laway were physically removed from the Rajya Sabha after they attempted to tear up copies of the Constitution of India.

    Sharply reacting to the government move that has come amid an unprecedented lockdown and flaring tensions in Jammu and Kashmir, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said this was the darkest day in Indian democracy. “Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy. Decision of J&K leadership to reject 2 nation theory in 1947 and align with India has backfired. Unilateral decision of GOI to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K,” she wrote on Twitter.

    In a series of tweets, Mehbooba who is under house arrest said, “The way some sections of media & civil society are celebrating these developments with glee is disgusting & disconcerting.”

    “What did J&K get for acceding to India? Another partition along communal lines? Our special status isn’t a gift bestowed upon us. It’s a right guaranteed by the same  parliament. A contract entered into by J&K leadership & India. Today the very same contract has been violated,” the former Chief Minister said in another tweet.

    Congress MP and former Chief Minister of the state Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the “BJP has murdered the Constitution today”.

    Vice president of National Conference and her predecessor, Omar Abdullah in his statement said, “Government of India’s unilateral and shocking decisions today are total betrayal of the trust that people of Jammu and Kashmir had reposed in India when the state acceded to it in 1947.”

    Omar said that the government resorted to deceit and stealth in recent weeks to lay ground for these disastrous decisions. “While long and tough battle lies ahead, we are ready for that”, he added.

     

    Earlier, senior Congress leader and former home minister P Chidambaram had condemned the “house arrest” of several leaders including Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Sajad Lone, stressing that the Modi government was defying all democratic norms to achieve its objectives.

    BJP’s national general secretary and party’s point person in the state, Ram Madhav on Monday hailed the Government’s decision, saying the martyrdom of its idealogue Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee for complete integration of the state into India had been “honoured”.

     

    While curfew like restrictions have been imposed in several parts of the state, mobile internet services were suspended in the fast paced developments on Sunday evening.


    First published in The Leaflet.

    Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the writer's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Indian Writers' Forum.

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