After Rajya Sabha clearance, resolution to revoke Article 370 in Lok Sabha today
Once the Lok Sabha approves the bill, the state can be split into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which won’t have one.Updated: Aug 06, 2019 11:33 IST
The Lok Sabha, where the BJP government has a comfortable majority, will on Tuesday discuss the resolution to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and the bill to bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.
Union home minister Amit Shah stunned Parliament with four proposals to split Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories and to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution, which gives the state its own constitution and decision-making rights for all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs.
Once the Lok Sabha approves the bill, the state can be split into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which won’t have one.
The move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under the Constitution was cleared by the Rajya Sabha on Monday, eight hours after Union home minister Amit Shah introduced a resolution to cancel the provision that had continued to be part of the Constitution for nearly seven decades.
The Rajya Sabha had also cleared the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, to divide the state into two Union territories. Both the Union territories would be administered by the central government through a lieutenant governor.
The resolution to abrogate J-K’s special status was passed by the Rajya Sabha with 125 votes in favour, and 61 against. The bill to divide the state was passed by a voice vote.
Amit Shah, who piloted the bill through the Upper House where the ruling BJP doesn’t have a clear majority, had prompted a furious response from the opposition led by Congress.
Shah brushed aside fears that there would be violence as he stood up to respond to the debate, saying “nothing of the sort will happen”. The home minister insisted that Article 370 could be blamed for much of the terrorism that had been seen in Jammu and Kashmir to underline that the existing policies, in any case, had cost more than 41,000 lives.
Shah’s response was also centred around arguing that Article 370 was responsible for much of the poverty and corruption in Jammu and Kashmir.
Shah said most opposition leaders who participated in the discussion had spoken about technicalities – that it was part of India’s commitment to Kashmir when it became part of the union – but no one had spoken about its utility to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Shah’s twin proposals infuriated opposition parties such as the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Left, who were sharply critical of the BJP-led national coalition rushing the legislation through Parliament.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s party, Janata Dal(United), boycotted the debate to protest the government that it supports, bringing the legislation without consensus.
But opposition parties such as the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party, Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party and Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal were supportive of the initiative during the debate.
And, Pakistan said it strongly condemned the decision and its prime minister Imran Khan said the move “was in clear violation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions” in the region.
Pakistan rejected the government’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, saying such a unilateral step cannot change the state’s status as an “internationally recognised disputed territory”.
The Pakistan government will use all options to “counter the illegal steps”, its Foreign Office spokesperson said. Leaders of all Pakistani parties joined hands to oppose India’s action, describing it as unacceptable and an “act of treason” against the United Nations.
United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres urged India and Pakistan to exercise restraint. The US state department said it was closely following the events and expressed concerns over reports of detentions.