President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday gave his assent to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which seeks to convert the state into a Union Territory and to separate Ladakh into another union territory. Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh will come into existence as union territories on October 31, PTI reported.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (a) of section 2 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019), the Central Government hereby appoints the 31st day of October, 2019, as the appointed day for the purposes of the said Act,” the Union Ministry of Home Affairs notification said.
The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have a lieutenant governor, and its Assembly will consist of 107 seats, which will increase to 114 after delimitation of constituencies. Twenty-four seats in the Assembly will remain vacant as they fall under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The union territory of Ladakh will not have a Legislative Assembly.
On Monday, the central government had also passed a bill to scrap the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.
Earlier on Friday, authorities withdrew the order under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure from within the municipal limits of Jammu District, and instructed educational institutions to reopen from Saturday, ANI reported. Section 144, which was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday, restricted the assembly of four or more people.
The situation in Jammu was normal and that in Kashmir was under control, said Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Muneer Khan. “All steps necessary to maintain law and order will be taken,” the news agency quoted him as saying.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik asked deputy commissioners in the Kashmir Valley to reach out to locals and assess their requirements of ration and medicines, among other things. The governor asked personnel to quickly address the needs of local residents and has directed security personnel in the districts to depute officials for the work, NDTV reported.
The Srinagar Police have also offered to help those staying outside Jammu and Kashmir to connect with their families. “For the families, students, businessmen staying outside the valley and wishing to know the welfare of their nears and dears can send an advanced SMS stating full details of families here,” they tweeted.
Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met the Jammu and Kashmir governor and discussed the prevailing situation in the Valley. They also reportedly discussed the arrangements made for Eid-ul-Azha, according to ANI.
The police, earlier on Friday, had said that restrictions placed on public gatherings would be eased for afternoon prayers. Phone services and internet connections were partially restored in the morning and restrictions on movement were eased to facilitate the prayers.
The ease on restrictions came five days after the central government imposed a security lockdown of the state and cut off all communication channels, including landline phones, internet services and cellphones, ahead of its decision to end Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in the Union of India and bifurcate it into two Union Territories.