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10 Aug, 19 04:33
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New Delhi: A move to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under the Constitutionwasclearedbythe RajyaSabhaonMonday,eight hoursafterhomeministerAmit Shah introduced a resolution tocanceltheprovisionthathad continued to be part of the Constitution The RajyaSabha also clearedabilltodividethestate into two union territories, one for Ladakh and the second for Jammu and Srinagar regions. Bothwouldbeadministeredby thecentralgovernmentthrough a Lt-governor. A union territory is an administrative division governed directly by the central government. Aresolutiontoabrogatethe special status was passed by theRajyaSabhawith125votes in favour, and 61 against. The bill to divide Jammu and Kashmir was passed by a voice vote. Shah, who piloted the bill throughtheupperhousewhere therulingNationalDemocratic Alliance (NDA) doesn’t have a clear majority, triggered an uproar in Parliament, with the oppositionledbytheCongress raising concerns about the impact of the move. Late on Sunday night, the administration restricted the movement of several political leaders such as former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti and severely curtailed movement of the public. The government also imposed a security lockdown on Kashmir after deploying tens of thousands of troops in the past week. The communication network in the Valley – mobile, fixed line and internet – was shut down ahead of the government’s announcement while key officials have been given satellite phones to stay in touch. WiththeCentre’smove,the union territory of Jammu and KashmirwillhaveaLtGovernor and the strength of the Assembly will be 107, which willbefurtherenhancedto114 after a delimitation exercise is carried out. Thepresent strengthofthe assembly is87,whichincludes fourseatsoftheLadakhregion. Ladakhwillnowbecomeaseparate UT, but without a legislature.Twenty-four seatsofthe assembly continue to remain vacant as they fall in the area ofPakistan-occupiedKashmir (POK). Shah, however, said that the Centre was open to making Jammu and Kashmir a state once the situation normalized. “I want to assure the House that whenever normal situation returns, right time comes, we have no objection in making it a state,” he said. The home minister also brushed aside fears that there would be violence in Kashmir as he stood up to respond to the debate, saying “nothing of the sort will happen”. Th e a n n o u n c e m e n t sparked chaotic scenes in Parliament, with opposition parties describing it as a “catastrophicstep”.Theycalledthe move to abrogate Article 370 anaggressionagainstthepeople of the state. Leader of Opposition in RajyaSabha, GhulamNabi Azad said: “In my political life, Ihadneverevenimaginedthat thestatewhichisIndia’scrown, one day that head will be chopped off”. The Congress, Trinamool Co n g r e s s (T M C), DravidaMunnetraKazhagam (DMK), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP),RashtriyaJanata Dal (RJD) and Left parties opposedtheresolutionandthe bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories. Parliamentarians from the Congress,TMCandDMKlater walked out of LokSabha in protest as prime minister attended the session.The Left parties also staged a demonstration at JantarMantar in New Delhi, slamming the NarendraModi-ledgovernment for scrapping Article 370 and demandingthattheearlier status of the state be restored. Amit Shah’s statement in both Houses of Parliament came after meetings of the Union Cabinet and the government’s top decision making body on security matters, the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Prime Minister NamendaModi. A government spokesperson did not brief reporters about the decisions taken by theUnionCabinet,butsources hintedthatit couldhavesomething about the special provisions relating to Jammu and Kashmir. TheBharatiyaJanataParty (BJP) has already issued a three-line whip ordering all its members to be present in the Parliament between 5 and 7 August. “All members of the LokSabha are informed that somevery importantbusiness will be taken up for business will be taken up for discussion and passing between 5th August and 7thAugust 2019,” the whip, accessed by HT, said. Regional parties in J&K s u c h a s th e Na ti o n a l Conference and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have accused the state administration of creating disquiet and resolved to fight any attempt to abrogate the constitutional provisions that guarantee Jammu and Kashmir special status. The parties also appealed to India and Pakistan not to take any steps that will escalate tension in the region. “We had made an effort to tell the people of this country and the government about the consequences if they toy with Articles 35A and 370 (of the Constitution). We made an appeal too, but no assurance has been given yet from the Centre.Theyarenotbothered to say anything, to say that everything will be alright,” Mehbooba Mufti said after an all party meeting in the Valley on Sunday

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