J&K, Ladakh to come into existence as separate Union Territories on October 31

Two new Union Territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh - will come into existence on October 31.

NEW DELHI: President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday gave assent to legislation for bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, and creation of two Union Territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh - that will come into existence on October 31.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (a) of section 2 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019), the Central Government hereby appoints the 31st day of October 2019, as the appointed day for the purposes of the said Act,” the Union Ministry of Home Affairs notification said.

Interestingly, the country's first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's birth anniversary falls on October 31st. 

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have a Lieutenant Governor and its Assembly will consist of 107 seats, which will increase to 114 after delimitation of constituencies. Twenty-four seats in the Assembly will remain vacant as they fall under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The Union Territory of Ladakh will not have a Legislative Assembly.

On Monday, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government had also passed a bill to scrap the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.

Three days after the far-reaching decision to abrogate the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcate the state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a nearly 40-minute televised address to the nation on Thursday, sought to assuage concerns of the people saying Jammu and Kashmir will not remain Union Territory for long.

"As Jammu and Kashmir will see more and more development, I do not think it will remain Union Territory for long. Ladakh will remain a Union Territory," Modi said. According to the legislation, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature like Puducherry and Ladakh will be a UT like Chandigarh, without legislature.

Earlier on Friday, Section 144 was withdrawn from parts of Kashmir hours after mobile and internet services were suspended and restrictions were imposed on civilian movement.

Jammu district Deputy Magistrate Sushma Chauhan said that Section 144 (against the gathering of more than 4 people) has been withdrawn from Jammu Municipal limits. In an official statement, she also informed that all school and colleges will open from Saturday i.e August 10.

“The order No DCJ/PS/2019/376-407 dated 05-08-2019 issued under Section 144 CrPC within Municipal Limits of Jammu District is hereby withdrawn. Further, all the schools, colleges and academic institutions closed may resume their functioning from 10-08-2019 normally”, read an order from District Magistrate Sushma Chauhan.

Meanwhile, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Law and Order, Muneer Khan said that situation is normal in the Valley.

“In Jammu, the situation is normal. In Kashmir, everything is under control. All steps necessary to maintain law and order will be taken,” he added.

Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik direcetd deputy commissioners in the Kashmir Valley to reach out to locals and assess their requirements of ration and medicines, among other things. The Governor asked personnel to quickly address the needs of local residents and directed security personnel in the districts to depute officials for the work.

The J&K administration also eased restriction in movement of civilians and allowed them to offer Friday prayers in local mosques. Schools and colleges were also reopened in Kathua, Udhampur and Samba districts on Friday.

Officials said that the decision on easing of restrictions comes after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval directed authorities to ensure that no Kashmiris were harassed.

The Srinagar Police also offered to help those staying outside Jammu and Kashmir to connect with their families.

“For the families, students, businessmen staying outside the valley and wishing to know the welfare of their nears and dears can send an advanced SMS stating full details of families here,” it said in a tweet.

However, there was no Friday congregation at the historic Jama Masjid in Srinagar as the officials clarified that people will be allowed to offer prayers in mosques in their locality.

The clampdown in Kashmir was imposed on Monday, hours before the Centre revoked Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which grants special status to J&K.