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Jammu & Kashmir ceases to be a state; two Union Territories are born

The UT of Ladakh is to be under direct control of the central government, which will administer the region through a lieutenant governor


FILE PHOTO: Commuters seen on a road in Srinagar | Photo: PTI

Press Trust of India New Delhi
History was created at midnight on Wednesday, with Jammu and Kashmir, part of the Union of India since 1947, ceasing to be a state. It was bifurcated to form two Union Territories -- J&K and Ladakh.
IAS officers Girish Chandra Murmu and R K Mathur, appointed Lieutenant Governors (LG) for the UTs of J&K and Ladakh respectively, will be sworn in at separate functions to be held in Srinagar and Leh on Thursday.
Both Murmu and Mathur will be sworn in by Chief Justice of J&K High Court Gita Mittal.
According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the appointed day for the two UTs was October 31, and these came into existence at the midnight (Wednesday-Thursday), nearly three months after the announcement in the Rajya Sabha.
This was for the first time that a state was converted into two UTs, even though there are numerous example of UTs becoming full states or a state being bifurcated into two smaller states. The total number of states in the country now is 28, and that of UTs is seven.
The Narendra Modi government's decision and subsequent approval of Parliament to abrogate the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and its bifurcation into two UTs was taken to redraw the map and future of a region at the centre of a protracted militancy movement.
The electoral promise of the BJP to end the special status of Jammu and Kashmir came less than 90 days after the Modi 2.0 government assumed power in May end.
The August 5 decision was taken 72 years after the then ruler of the princely state, Maharaja Hari Singh, executed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947, making it part of the Union of India.
The two UTs came into existence on the day of the birth anniversary of the country's first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who is credited with merging over 560 states into the Union of India.
October 31 is also observed as the National Unity Day and both Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah will on Thursday attend separate functions -- in Kevadia (Gujarat) and New Delhi, respectively.
According to the Act, the UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature like Puducherry, while Ladakh will be a UT without legislature like Chandigarh, and both UTs will be headed by two separate lieutenant governors (LG).
The Centre will be in direct control of the police and the law and order in Jammu & Kashmir from Thursday, while land will be under the elected government there. The UT of Ladakh will be under direct control of the central government, which will administer the region through the LG.
While moving the resolution in the Rajya Sabha that Article 370 -- which allowed Jammu and Kashmir to have its own Constitution and prohibited outsiders from buying land and property in the state, Shah had said these provisions will no longer be applicable and the central government will restore its statehood at "appropriate time" and after "normalcy" returns.
"The government will not allow the situation to turn into another battle torn Kosovo... It was heaven on earth and will remain so," Shah had said, referring to the decades-old militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Soon after the abrogation of the Article 370, several hundred political leaders and separatists were put under detention by the Jammu and Kashmir administration while restrictions were also imposed on movement of people, vehicles, telephone, mobile phones and internet.
While most of the restrictions have been removed since then, curb on internet is still continuing and situation in the Kashmir Valley is yet to be termed as completely normal.
Among those put under detention include three former chief ministers -- Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 says the all India Services like the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS), of J-K cadre will continue to serve in the two succeeding UTs while new recruits of these services will be allocated in the Arunachal, Goa, Mizoram Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre.
The provincial service officers will continue serving in their current positions till a new order is issued by the Lt Governors for the two new UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The IAS, IPS and other central service officers and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) will be under the control of the LG and not the elected government of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
Mehbooba was the last chief minister of undivided Jammu and Kashmir whose tenure ended in June 2017 when central rule was imposed there after her coalition partner BJP withdrew support. Satya Pal Malik is the last governor whose tenure comes to an end on Wednesday. He has been transferred and appointed as Governor of Goa.
Just a day before Jammu and Kashmir is divided into two UTs, the National Conference on Wednesday made a fervent last minute appeal to the Centre to shelve the plan and maintain the statehood of the "200-year-old state" dubbed as "crown of India".

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First Published: Oct 30 2019 | 4:35 PM IST

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