New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir has officially ceased to be a state today, and from now on will be two union territories – J&K, and Ladakh.
This change ties up the Narendra Modi government’s August 5 move to read down Article 370 and reorganise J&K into two UTs. J&K’s constitution and flag no longer exist, and the Centre has revoked the region’s special status.
The governors of the two new UTs – G.C. Murmu for J&K and R.K. Mathur for Ladakh – will now ben sworn in.
The Centre’s August 5 move, and the communications clampdown and large-scale detention that came with it, has been criticised by politicians from the Kashmir Valley, most of whole are still under house arrest or detention.
Terrorist activity in the Valley has also been gaining ground, with a number of attacks targeting truckers and workers from outside the region.
Constitutional experts have questioned the government’s decision to revoke J&K’s statehood. This is the first time in India’s history that a state is being turned into UTs, rather than the other way round. Writing in The Wire, former secretary-general of the Lok Sabha and constitutional expert and constitutional expert P.D.T. Achary has explained in detail why the decision is unconstitutional.
Indian Express reports that the Centre is also using this time to create a political “alternative” in the Kashmir Valley – sidelining most senior mainstream leaders (currently under detention) and entering into talks with younger leaders who are willing to “look beyond” the Article 370 issue.
Student activist-turned-political leader Shehla Rashid had raised this point while distancing herself from mainstream politics. Only those who chose not to fight the decision on Article 370 are being allowed to continue their political activities, she alleged, while everyone else is being detained or stifled in different ways.