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Govt passes Parliament test on Kashmir bills, PM Modi hails 'new dawn'

Modi hailed the approval as a "momentous occasion" in parliamentary democracy and said a new dawn awaits the state

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

PM Narendra Modi | Photo: ANI
PM Narendra Modi | Photo: ANI

The Centre's bold move to revoke special status for and bifurcate the border state into two Union Territories secured Parliament's approval on Tuesday with the Lok Sabha passing the new measures with over two-thirds majority.

As Home Minister Amit Shah declared in the lower house that India will continue to claim the territories of under the occupation of Pakistan and ruled out any talks with separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference, the voices of dissent in the Congress by leaders who extended support to the move by the Modi government grew with senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia saying it was in the interest of the country.

The resolution abrogating provisions of of the Constitution to take away the special status of the state was adopted by the Lok Sabha with 351 members voting in its support and 72 against it, while one member abstained.

And in a sheer coincidence with the number 370, the bill to create two UTs -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh -- was passed by 370 votes in favour and 70 against. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House.

The resolution and the bill were approved by the Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Modi hailed the approval as a "momentous occasion" in parliamentary democracy and said a new dawn awaits the state which is now free from the "shackles" of vested interest groups.

"For years, vested interest groups who believed in emotional blackmail, never cared for people's empowerment. J&K is now free from their shackles. A new dawn, better tomorrow awaits!" the prime minister said.

As top officials in said the situation in all the three regions of the state is totally peaceful, the telecom links in the Valley remained snapped for a second consecutive day in a bid by authorities to deter protests over the decision that seeks to redraw the map and future of a region at the centre of a protracted militancy movement.

There was also no news of former chief ministers, NC's Omar Abdullah and PDP's Mehbooba Mufti, as well as People's Conference's leader Sajjad Lone, who were arrested in Srinagar on Monday evening.

But Conference(NC) chief Farooq Abdullah in an emotional outburst compared the revocation of as akin to "body being carved" and that they will fight and go to court against the Modi government's decision.

In his first remarks since the government's decision on Monday, Farooq contested Shah's assertion in Parliament that he was neither under detention nor arrest and was at his home out of his own will.

A petition was, meanwhile, filed in the Supreme Court challenging the Presidential order revoking the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir. It was filed by advocate M L Sharma.

In a marathon reply to the debate on the resolution and the bill, Shah said was creating doubts over Jammu and Kashmir's relations with India.

"This is not a historical blunder but we are rectifying the historical blunder," he said, dismissing the opposition charge that the government was committing a mistake.

"India will continue to claim Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," he said.

Shah while moving the resolution earlier in the day said Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Aksai Chin are part of Jammu and Kashmir and said, "we are ready to give our lives for it". Aksai Chin is a vast area in Ladakh which is currently under Chinese occupation.

Shah also reiterated that the Modi government will have no hesitation in restoring statehood to Jammu and Kashmir when normalcy returns.

He also strongly refuted the suggestion that abrogation of Article 370 was "communal agenda" and said this provision was discriminatory and against the minorities, women and welfare of the people.

The home minister ruled out talks with the Hurriyat Conference.

"We don't want to talk to Hurriyat, but we ready to speak to people of Kashmir...," he said.

Shah said over 41,500 people were killed in Jammu and Kashmir due to militancy since 1989 and blamed Article 370 and Article 35A for the problem.

Defending the government's action to put restrictions in Kashmir Valley in the last two days, the home minister said law and order situation there has not deteriorated and whatever actions were taken were all precautionary.

As several parties and organisations in the Northeast asked the Centre not to tinker with special status provisions in place in their states, Shah asserted that that the Centre has no intention to remove Article 371 which gives such rights.

A BJP member from Ladakh Jamyang Tsering Namagyan also won the praise of the prime minister for his speech in the Lok Sabha.

"If Ladakh is today under-developed, then Article 370 and Congress party are responsible for it," the young MP said after which Modi said he had delivered an "outstanding speech".

The passage of the bills was marked by raising of 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' slogans and thumping of desks by the BJP MPs.

The House also witnessed an uproar when the Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury sought to know from the government whether Jammu and Kashmir was an internal matter or a bilateral issue, saying the United Nations has been monitoring the situation there since 1948.

Chowdhury's remarks triggered protests from the treasury benches.

First Published: Tue, August 06 2019. 21:47 IST
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