The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023.
The two bills, which were introduced in the Monsoon session in July, seek to implement reservations in the legislative Assembly, jobs and professional education institutes of the Union Territory.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, amends the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004, giving reservations in jobs and admission to professional institutions to persons from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other socially and educationally backward classes.
The other socially and educationally backwards classes category had included those residing in villages that were identified as socially and educationally backward. It also included those residing near the Line of Actual Control and the international border. The 2004 law also gave reservation to those included in the weak and under-privileged classes as notified by the government.
The amendment passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday replaced the “weak and under-privileged classes” with the “other backward classes”.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, proposes to increase the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory from 83 to 90. It also proposes to reserve seven seats for Scheduled Castes and nine seats for Scheduled Tribes.
The amendment also empowers the lieutenant governor to nominate up to two members from the Kashmiri migrant community, who were displaced from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, to the Assembly. One of them must be a woman.
On Wednesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah told the Lower House that the bills were aimed at giving justice to those who had been deprived of their rights over the past 70 years of Congress rule.
“I stand in the House and say responsibly that Kashmir suffered for several years because of the two blunders during the tenure of [then] Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru,” he said. “The biggest mistake was that when our forces were winning, a ceasefire was announced and PoK [Pakistan=occupied Kashmir] came into existence. Had the ceasefire been delayed by three days, PoK would have been a part of India.”
Shah was referring to the 1947-’48 war with Pakistan when the neighbouring country took a significant part of Kashmir.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader also blamed Nehru for committing another blunder by taking the Kashmir issue to the United Nations amid the first border war with Pakistan, which started in 1947.
The organisation had then set up the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan to monitor the ceasefire line between the two countries.
Following Shah’s comments on Nehru, the Opposition MPs walked out of the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, reported The Indian Express.