Jammu & Kashmir Ceases To Be A State As Two New Union Territories Come Into Existence
Boats sail through Dal Lake in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)  

Jammu & Kashmir Ceases To Be A State As Two New Union Territories Come Into Existence

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History was created on Thursday when Jammu & Kashmir, which has been part of the Union of India since 1947, ceased to be a state and was bifurcated into two Union Territories.

Indian Administrative Services officers Girish Chandra Murmu and RK Mathur, who have been appointed the new Lieutenant Governors for the union territories of Jammu & Kashmir, 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 & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the appointed day for the two UTs is Oct. 31 and these came into existence at midnight, nearly three months after the announcement in Rajya Sabha.

This is for the first time that a state is converted into two UTs even though there are numerous example of a UT becoming a full state or a state bifurcating into two states.

The total number of states in the country is now 28 while the total UTs have gone up to seven.

The Narendra Modi government’s decision and subsequent approval of Parliament to abrogate the special status given to Jammu & 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 & Kashmir came less than 90 days after the Modi 2.0 government assumed power in May-end.

The Aug. 5 decision was taken 72 years after the then ruler of the princely state, Maharaja Hari Singh, executed the Instrument of Accession on Oct. 26, 1947, making it part of the Union of India.

The two UTs come into existence on the day of the birth anniversary country's first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who is credited for merger of over 560 states into the Union of India.

Oct. 31 is observed as the National Unity Day and both Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday will attend separate functions -- in Gujarat and New Delhi respectively.

According to the Act, the UT of Jammu & Kashmir will have a legislature like Puducherry while Ladakh will be a UT without legislature like Chandigarh and both the UTs will be headed by two separate Lieutenant Governors.

The Centre will be in direct control of the police and the law and order in Jammu & Kashmir from Thursday, while the land will be under the elected government there.

The UT of Ladakh will be under the direct control of the central government which will administer the high altitude region through the LG.

While moving the resolution in the Rajya Sabha that Article 370 -- which allowed Jammu & 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 & Kashmir.

Soon after the abrogation of the Article 370, several hundred political leaders and separatists were put under detention by the Jammu & Kashmir administration while restrictions were also imposed on movement of people, vehicles, telephone, mobile phones and internet.

While most of the restrictions were removed since then, curb on internet is still continuing and situation in the Kashmir Valley is yet to be termed as complete normal.

Among those put under detention include three former chief ministers -- Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

The Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 says the all India Services like the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service, 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 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 & Kashmir and Ladakh.

The IAS, IPS and other central service officers and the Anti-Corruption Bureau 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 & 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 & Kashmir was 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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