With the Kashmir Valley under a complete communication blackout and political leaders arrested, Parliament on Tuesday approved the resolution to scrap provisions of Article 370 and a Bill to bifurcate the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two Union territories.
In the Lok Sabha, Home Minister Amit Shah asserted that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Aksai Chin were part of J&K, and “we will give our lives for it”. Aksai Chin is currently under Chinese occupation.
The Lok Sabha passed the resolution and the Bill even as the Congress, a couple of its allies, and the Left parties voted against them. The Trinamool Congress walked out at the time of voting, pointing to constitutional improprieties in the passage of the Bill and the resolution.
However, the Congress as well as Trinamool were themselves divided houses on the issue. Congress General Secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia tweeted in the evening that he supported the move to "fully integrate” J&K and Ladakh into the Union of India. Trinamool’s Sukhendu Sekhar Roy also took to social media to support the move.
In Kashmir, leaders of mainstream political parties, including National Conference’s Omar Abdullah and PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti, were put under arrest on Monday night.
I salute my sisters and brothers of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh for their courage and resilience. 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!— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 6, 2019
The Lok Sabha passed the resolution on scrapping provisions of Article 370 with 366 votes in favour, 66 against, and one abstention. It passed the J&K Reorganisation Bill with 370 voting in favour and 70 against the proposed law that bifurcates the state into two Union territories – J&K with an elected Assembly, and Ladakh, which will not have an Assembly. Shah said Ladakh’s two hill councils will continue to function.
The Rajya Sabha had passed the Bill as well as the resolution on Monday.
Shah also withdrew the J&K reservation Bill, which provided for quotas in jobs and education for economically weaker sections among upper castes. Shah said he would withdraw the Bill from the Rajya Sabha as well since it would be redundant after President’s assent to scrapping of Article 370, which would mean all central laws are enforced in J&K. The Lok Sabha adjourned sine die. Speaker Om Birla said it was the most successful first session of Parliament since 1952.
During his reply to the debate, Shah said the two Union territories will have two separate lieutenant governors. He said Article 370 only benefitted “three families” of Kashmir, but the people remained in penury. The home minister blamed Articles 370 and 35A for fuelling terrorism in the Valley, which killed over 42,000 people. Shah accused supporters of Article 370 of being anti-women, anti-tribal, anti-Dalit and pro-terrorism.
During the debate in the Lok Sabha, speakers from the ruling BJP-led NDA sparred with those from the Congress over Kashmir’s accession and the role of first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his deputy Sardar Patel. While BJP MPs blamed Nehru for Article 370, Congress’s Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari pointed out that Patel was as much a party to that decision. Tewari said the government move was a “constitutional travesty”.
MPs of several non-NDA regional parties supported the government move, including those of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, YSR Congress Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. BJP MPs said Diwali had come early for them and supporters, and Rajya Sabha scrapping provisions of Article 370 was like a ‘second independence day’.
Opposition MPs, particularly NCP’s Supriya Sule, asked about the whereabouts of Kashmiri politicians. AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi termed the move the “third historical mistake” of India. He said the first was Nehru government arresting Sheikh Abdullah in 1953, and second was rigging the elections in 1987.
Owaisi and others also wanted to know if the move had any implications for other states with special status, including Nagaland. “You are neophytes in the use of statecraft,” he said, adding they that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind. National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi said New Delhi has lost the people’s trust in J&K. He said the constitution mandates local people be consulted, which they have not been.
Pakistan PM Imran Khan said on Tuesday Islamabad planned to approach the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice.