SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir is no longer a state and as of midnight on Wednesday, is two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Following the birth of two union territories nearly three months after the central government scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s decades-old special status under Article 370, President’s rule imposed in undivided Jammu and Kashmir in June 2018 has been revoked, according to a government notification.
The Home Ministry, in a notification on Wednesday, replaced the state of Jammu and Kashmir with the “union territory of Jammu and Kashmir” and announced omission of “permanent residents or hereditary state subjects”. In the late night notification, the ministry’s Jammu and Kashmir division announced a slew of measures, including application of central laws. “… there are references in the state laws that have been applied to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Union Territory of Ladakh to the expressions ‘permanent residents’ or ‘hereditary state subjects’…, wherever they occur, shall be omitted,” it said.
The two new Union Territories have come into existence on the 144th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who is credited for the merger of over 560 princely states into the Union of India. Today, October 31, is also celebrated as National Unity Day.
With the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, the number of states in India has come down to 28 and the number of Union Territories has gone up to nine. While Jammu and Kashmir will continue to have a legislature, like in Puducherry, Ladakh will be without one, like Chandigarh.
Jammu and Kashmir also gets its first Lieutenant Governor when Girish Chandra Murmu, the Union Expenditure Secretary, takes oath; former Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur was sworn in this morning as the Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh.
The centre will be in direct control of the police and law and order in Jammu and Kashmir, while decisions on land will be the elected government’s jurisdiction. Ladakh will be under the direct control of the central government, which will administer it through the Lieutenant Governor.
The Narendra Modi-government had ended special status to Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, fulfilling the BJP’s long-standing promise to do so in the first 100 days of its second term in power. The government reasoned that both Article 370 and 35A were “constitutionally vulnerable” and discriminatory and inhibited the development of the state.
Hundreds of local politicians including former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been under detention since the government announced the sweeping changes on August 5.
The restrictions, especially the clampdown on communication, were necessary to prevent a possible backlash and terror strikes following the Article 370 decision and would be withdrawn in phases, the government had said.
The government has also said that Jammu and Kashmir will not stay a Union Territory and its statehood will be restored at an “appropriate time” after “normalcy” returns.