Historic: 72 years after accession, State splits; J&K, Ladakh become UTs

Girish Chandra Murmu being received at Srinagar by Farooq Khan and BVR Subrahmanyam on Wednesday.
Girish Chandra Murmu being received at Srinagar by Farooq Khan and BVR Subrahmanyam on Wednesday.

MHA announces omission of State Subjects
LGs to take charge today, Murmu calls high-level meet

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Oct 30: History was written at midnight tonight when the State of Jammu and Kashmir ceased to exist and smoothly transitioned into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh amid tight security arrangements in Jammu and Kashmir divisions, jubilation and celebrations in Leh and complete bandh in Kargil.
The new UTs of J&K and Ladakh formally came into existence 86 days after Parliament abrogated special status of the State under Article 370 and passed J&K Re-organization Act.
The Home Ministry in a notification issued at midnight tonight replaced the State of J-K with the “Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir” and announced omission of “permanent residents or hereditary state subjects”.
The Ministry’s of Jammu and Kashmir division announced a slew of measures, including application of Central Laws to the State.
“… there are references in the State laws that have been applied to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Union Territory of Ladakh to the expressions ‘permanent residents’ or ‘hereditary State Subjects’…, wherever they occur, shall be omitted,” it said.
The references, by whatever form of words, to the “State of Jammu and Kashmir” or “Jammu and Kashmir” or “State” shall from October 31 be construed as “Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir” or “Union Territory of Ladakh”, as the case may be, it said.
It said any reference in any existing law to the “Legislature of the State or any House or Houses” shall be construed as references to the Legislative Assembly or Legislature of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
No lawsuit will be maintained for any action taken, including any notification issued or order, rule or appointment made during the period between August 5 and October 31 as these shall be deemed to be valid and operative as if such things had been done or actions taken in accordance with law, according to the notification.
It said any person who has taken an oath or made an affirmation before holding office or position as such under the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution or other laws in force in the existing state of J-K immediately before the appointed day shall be deemed to have taken oath or affirmation under the Indian Constitution or law applicable to the two Union Territories, and shall continue to hold office or position as such till October 31.
This has reduced one State and added two Union Territories in India, which now has total of 37 entities including 28 States and nine UTs as against previous figure of 29 States and seven UTs.
A number of Central laws will now be applicable in the two new Union Territories, which were not implemented in the State in view of special Constitutional provisions.
Jammu and Kashmir functioned as a State since past several decades and had long history of special status in the form of Articles 370 and 35-A besides permit system in the beginning and the status of the Sadr-e-Riyasat and the Prime Minister in place of the Governor and the Chief Minister, which gradually ended.
On August 6, the Parliament scrapped special Constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. Subsequently, the Union Home Ministry headed by Amit Shah had fixed the date of October 31 for formal transition of the State into two UTs.
In the Union Territory, Jammu and Kashmir will have 90-seat Legislative Assembly while Ladakh hasn’t been granted Legislature. However, the existing two districts of Ladakh including Leh and Kargil will continue to have Autonomous Hill Development Councils.
The Union Territory status was long pending demand of the people of Leh for which they had launched several agitations. Later, the BJP had made grant of UT status to Ladakh as its main electoral plank and won Ladakh Lok Sabha seat twice in 2014 and 2019.
While there was jubilation in Leh on the grant of UT status, bandh was observed in Kargil for keeping Lieutenant Governor and Administrative Secretary Headquarters permanently in Leh.
However, situation in Jammu and Kashmir divisions was peaceful with neither any victory processions taken out nor any protest demonstrations reported from any part. However, an uneasy calm prevailed in the Valley.
This is for the first time that a State has been converted into two UTs even though there are numerous examples of a UT becoming a full State or a State bifurcating into two States.
The Narendra Modi Government’s decision and subsequent approval of Parliament to abrogate the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and its bifurcation into two UTs was taken to redraw the map and future of a region at the centre of a protracted militancy movement.
The August 5 decision was taken 72 years after the then ruler of the princely State, Maharaja Hari Singh, executed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947, making it part of the Union of India.
The two UTs will come into existence on the day of the birth anniversary of country’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who is credited for merger of over 560 states into the Union of India.
October 31 is observed as the National Unity Day and both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday will attend separate functions — in Kevadia (Gujarat) and New Delhi respectively.
First Lieutenant Governors of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh Union Territories—Girish Chandra Murmu and RK Mathur today reached Srinagar and Leh respectively and will be administered oath of office and secrecy by Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Gita Mittal tomorrow.
Mathur will be administered oath first at Sindhu Sanskriti Bhawan in Leh at 7.45 am while Murmu will take oath at Raj Bhavan in Srinagar at 12.45 pm.
Sources said the tenure of all five Advisors including K Vijay Kumar, K Skandan, KK Sharma, Khurshid Ganai and Farooq Khan will also come to an end with taking of oath by Murmu. If the Home Ministry and the Lieutenant Governor decide to appoint the Advisors, the orders will have to be issued afresh.
Murmu has, meanwhile, convened his first meeting with the Administrative Secretaries in Srinagar at 4 pm tomorrow to take feedback on the situation and draw the map of normalcy and development.
Mathur is also likely to meet senior officers of Leh and Kargil.
Murmu was received at the Srinagar Airport by Advisor Farooq Khan and Chief Secretary BVR Subrah-manyam.
The General Administration Department is coordinating arrangements for oath ceremony of the first Lieutenant Governor of J&K in Srinagar while Ladakh Affairs Department headed by Rigzian Sampheal is making arrangements of oath ceremony of the first LG in Leh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team took charge on May 30 and on August 5, in the first Parliament session of the new Lok Sabha, the all-important announcement on Jammu and Kashmir was made after mainline political leaders were detained, the State was put under communication lockdown and other security restrictions, which were withdrawn over next two and a half months, barring mobile internet services.
Significantly, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti will be remembered as the last Chief Minister of undivided Jammu and Kashmir whose tenure ended in June 2018 when Central rule was imposed in the State after her coalition partner BJP withdrew support. Satya Pal Malik is the last Governor whose tenure came to an end with taking of oath by Murmu.
Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory was expected to stay without the Legislative Assembly for quite some time as the Government will have to set up the Delimitation Commission first before holding elections to first Assembly of the UT. The delimitation of Assembly constituencies could take 14 months.
J&K State had 87-member Legislative Assembly and 36-member Legislative Council. The Council has been abolished.
As Ladakh had four Assembly seats, Jammu and Kashmir’s Assembly will now have seven additional seats as it has been granted 90-seat Assembly. In addition, it has 24 seats reserved for Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). The Assembly will continue to have two seats reserved for Women. While Scheduled Castes had seven seats reserved for them in the State Assembly, in the new House, the Scheduled Tribes will also get reservations.
The Lok Sabha seats of Jammu and Kashmir UT have been reduced from six to five as Ladakh UT will have one Lok Sabha seat. Kashmir division has three Lok Sabha seats and Jammu two. However, the Rajya Sabha quota of J&K’s four seats will continue.
Term of the Legislative Assembly will be five years instead of six years previously.
The Centre will be in direct control of the police and the law and order in Jammu and Kashmir from Thursday while the land will be under the elected Government.
The UT of Ladakh will be under the direct control of the Central Government which will administer the high altitude region through the LG.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 says the all India Services like the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS), of J-K cadre will continue to serve in the two succeeding UTs while new recruits of these services will be allocated in the Arunachal, Goa, Mizoram Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre.
The provincial service officers will continue serving in their current positions till a new order is issued by the Lt Governors for the two new UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The IAS, IPS and other Central service officers and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) will be under the control of the LG and not the elected Government of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.