Rajya Sabha Votes  To Divide Jammu & Kashmir Into Two Union Territories
Union Home Minister Amit Shah. (Photographer: Manvender Vashist/PTI) 

Rajya Sabha Votes To Divide Jammu & Kashmir Into Two Union Territories

The Rajya Sabha voted to approve The Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019. It was passed by 125 votes in favour to 61 against. It also voted to adopt a statutory resolution that recommends the President abrogate or modify Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on Monday afternoon, Home Minister Amit Shah defended the Narendra Modi-led government’s move to modify Article 370, that gives the state of Jammu & Kashmir special autonomous status, and the bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories—J&K with a state legislature and Ladakh without a state legislature.

Shah argued that over 70 years, despite several efforts to bring peace and progress to the state, especially to the troubled Kashmir Valley, none had succeeded. He requested the house to give his government an opportunity to mainstream Kashmir, promising its youth economic opportunities.

J&K will be given full statehood at an “appropriate time” when normalcy returns, Shah said in the Rajya Sabha.

While several parties such as Indian National Congress, CPI(M) and Janata Dal(United) opposed the proposed legislative changes during the house debate, others like Bharatiya Janata Party-ally Shiv Sena, Bahujan Samaj Party, Aam Aadmi Party, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Party among others expressed support for the government’s actions.

Also read: Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah Among Several Leaders Arrested In Jammu & Kashmir

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Amit Shah’s Key Comments

“I want to tell the people of J&K what damage Articles 370 & 35A did to the state. It’s because of these sections that democracy was never fully implemented, corruption increased in the state, that no development could take place.”

“We don’t believe in politics of religion, what vote bank politics? Only Muslims live in Kashmir? What do you want to say? Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists all live there. If 370 is good it is good for all, if it is bad then it is bad for all.”

“Ayushman Bharat scheme is there but where are the hospitals? where are doctors and nurses? (in Kashmir) Those supporting Article 35A please tell me which famous doctor will go and live there and practice? He can’t own land or house nor his children can vote.”

“You stand here in Parliament and say bloodshed will happen in Kashmir..what message are you sending to the valley? You want them to continue living in 18th century system, don’t people there have right to live in 21st century? Those who provoke have kids studying in London and the U.S.”

“Jawaharlal Nehruji also said ‘370 ghiste-ghiste ghis jaayegi’, magar Article 370 ko itne jatan se sambhalke rakha, 70 saal hue, ghisi nahi. Everyone accepts it’s a temporary provision, but can temporary continue for 70 years, when will it go, how will it go?”

The move to revoke J&K’s special status has been met with criticism by political leaders in J&K as well opposition leaders and constitutional lawyers.

Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of J&K and vice president of National Conference called the government’s decisions “unilateral and shocking”.

The decision will have far-reaching and dangerous consequences. This is an aggression against people of the state as had been warned by an all-parties meeting in Srinagar yesterday.
Omar Abdullah, Vice President, National Conference

Mehbooba Mufti, president of the Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party, called it the “darkest day in Indian democracy”.

Over the past 48 hours the government has stepped up the presence of security forces in J&K, imposed restrictions on movement of people including house arrest of prominent local leaders such as Mufti and Abdullah. All internet services have also been blacked out.

This is not the Indian democracy we have cherished for more than seven decades, said Congress Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor. “The assurances that successive rulers of India including those of BJP have given people and leaders of Kashmir and the international community now stand torn into shreds.”

RG Yadav of the Samajwadi Party said the government should have taken the people of J&K into confidence. “ If you wanted to remove Article 370 then you should have done only that, why did you abolish statehood and made it a union territory? World history is witness that any attempt to suppress people through force has always failed.”

“I don’t think there is anything revolutionary here. It’s a political decision even though it is not a wise decision,” said former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee.

Also read: Article 370: ‘Highly Dubious’ Process May Cause Further Unrest In J&K, Says Yashwant Sinha

Some business leaders though have stepped out in support of the government’s moves.

Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra & Mahindra group, commented on social media in favour of the government’s actions.

Sajjan Jindal, chairman and managing director of the JSW Group, also supported the legislative changes.

The Lok Sabha has yet to vote on the issue but it’s unlikely to fail in the house that has a BJP majority.

Also read: India Is Creating Its Own West Bank in Kashmir

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