Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said that Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin were part of Jammu and Kashmir and that the region was an integral part of India. He asserted that when he spoke about Jammu and Kashmir, the two disputed territories were also included, PTI reported.
“I’d like to clarify that Jammu and Kashmir is an essential part of the country...it is clearly mentioned that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India,” ANI quoted him as saying. “Hence, no one can stop us from adopting this move.”
Shah had moved two resolutions and a bill in the Lok Sabha on the special status and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir a day after they were passed in the Rajya Sabha. One of the two resolutions moved was to recommend to the President that he issue an order revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution. The other resolution and the bill were moved to bifurcate the state into two Union territories – one, Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and the other, Ladakh, without one.
Both resolutions and the bill were passed in the Lok Sabha. While the resolution for repealing special status was passed with 351 ayes, 72 noes and one abstention, the reorganisation resolution cleared the Lower House with 370 ayes and 70 noes. The Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die following the voting.
The home minister also dismissed the Opposition’s allegations that the introduction of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill was a violation of people’s rights. Shah said that the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have an Assembly, a chief minister and MLAs.
Shah’s comments followed after Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asked for a clarification on the government’s stand on the territory under Pakistan. The Congress leader also asked if it was a bilateral matter as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had told his United States counterpart Mike Pompeo a few days ago that Kashmir was a bilateral matter and that America must not interfere.
To Chowdhury’s query, Home Minister Shah asked the Congress leader if he did not consider Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir a part of India. “We will give our lives for this region,” Shah was quoted as saying.
Debating on the motion to repeal Article 370 and the reorganisation bill, Congress leader Manish Tewari traced the origins of the article to the accession agreement of erstwhile Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. He criticised the government for attempting to change state’s boundaries without consulting the state Assembly, Hindustan Times reported.
The home minister asked the leader to explain Congress’ stand on Article 370, to which Tewari said: “Everything cannot be black and white. There are 50 shades of grey in between.”
All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi said the decision to revoke the article was a historic mistake and that the government had kept its promise made in the manifesto, but failed to live up to constitutional duties. “What will happen on Eid?” The Indian Express quoted him as saying. “Are you assuming that Kashmiris instead of sacrificing lamb should sacrifice themselves? If you want that I’m sure they’ll do that, they’ve been doing that.” Eid is on Monday.
Shiromani Akali Dal MP Sukhbir Singh Badal said that minorities have been given a lot of protection by the scrapping of Articles 370 and 35-A.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that the government’s decision had done serious damage to India’s international standing. He alleged that the government was promoting division in the name of unity, and poverty in the name of prosperity.
Article 370 of the Constitution, passed in October 1949, exempted Jammu and Kashmir from all but two articles of the Indian Constitution – Article 1, which lists the states and Union territories of India, and the Article 370 itself. It allowed the state to have its own Constitution and limits the Parliament’s legislative powers over the state.
Meanwhile, Modi congratulated the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh over the passage of the bills. “I salute my sisters and brothers of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh for their courage and resilience,” he tweeted. “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!”
“The passage of key bills pertaining to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are a fitting tribute to the great Sardar Patel, who worked for India’s unity, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, whose views are well known and Dr. SP Mookerjee who devoted his life for India’s unity and integrity,” Modi added.
Responding to the debate in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, Shah said the Articles 370 and 35A were responsible for poverty and terrorism as well as poor healthcare and education in the state. He said that no appropriate time was needed to take the decision to revoke them, only political will was needed. “One just needs to rise above their own politics and think about the country,” he said.
On Monday, after the Rajya Sabha passed the proposals, former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah were arrested shortly after the adoption of the resolutions in the Rajya Sabha.