Jammu and Kashmir will cease to be a state from midnight on Thursday, and will officially be divided into the two Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The change is pursuant to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, which the Centre had passed in Parliament on August 5.
The Centre had also on August 5 scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
On Thursday, Girish Chandra Murmu, a former bureaucrat from Gujarat, will take oath as the first lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Another former civil servant, Radha Krishna Mathur, will be sworn in as the first lieutenant governor of the Union territory of Ladakh. The current governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Satya Pal Malik, was on October 25 transferred to Goa.
With Murmu’s appointment, the tenure of advisors to the Jammu and Kashmir governor – K Vijay Kumar, Khursheed Ganai, K Sikandan and KK Sharma – may come to an end as all of them are seniors in service to the new lieutenant governor, PTI had reported on October 25. The new lieutenant governors will be sworn in on National Unity Day, the birth anniversary of freedom fighter and India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Hindustan Times reported.
While Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature, Ladakh will be ruled directly from the Centre. Since the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir no longer exists following the revocation of special status, the region’s legislature can make laws pertaining to matters contained in the state list or the concurrent list, except the subjects mentioned in entries one and two – ‘public order’ and ‘police’, PTI reported.
All India Services like the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service will be under the control of the lieutenant governors of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act stipulates that matters related to rights over land, land tenures, transfer and alienation of agricultural land, land improvement and agricultural loans will be under the domain of the elected government of the Union territory.
The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir will be the common court of the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The total strength of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly is 107, which will increase to 114 after delimitation. As many as 24 seats have been left vacant as they fall under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
India had imposed a curfew in Jammu and Kashmir following its decision to abrogate the state’s special status, and put senior leaders of local political parties in detention. The curfew has gradually been eased, with schools reopening in the Valley and mobile phone connections partially restored, but internet services still remain blocked. The United Nations has urged India to lift all restrictions imposed in Kashmir.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, a group of 23 Members of the European Parliament, mostly from right-wing parties, visited Srinagar to assess the situation in the Valley. The Opposition lashed out at the government, with the Congress claiming that allowing the MEPs to visit Kashmir was the “gravest sin” the Narendra Modi-led government had committed.
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