New Delhi: In less than 24 hours of turning Article 370 (and, in effect Article 35A) defunct in the Rajya Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has asserted in Lok Sabha that Pakistan occupied Kashmir (Pok) and Aksai Chin are part of Jammu and Kashmir and that Kashmir Valley is an integral part of the country, as it always was.
The home minister said the people of Ladakh had long demanded a separate Union Territory status, which was fulfilled by the Narendra Modi government, while he moved a resolution for abrogating some provisions of Article 370 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill on 6 August 2019. “Kashmir is an integral part of India, there is no doubt over it. When I talk about Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin are included in it and can die for it.” Amit Shah hit back at Leader of Congress party Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary.
Shah said nobody could stop him from introducing a resolution on Kashmir in Parliament, not giving two hoots to the opposition’s allegation that introduction of the bill and the resolution were a violation of the rights of Kashmiris. “Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of Union of India. Kashmir ki seema men PoK bhi aata hai… Jaan de denge iske liye! (PoK also falls under the boundaries of Kashmir, too. We will sacrifice our lives for it.),” Shah said in response to a question by the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha.
Shah made it clear that whenever he mentioned Jammu and Kashmir, he meant the area including the parts PoK and Aksai Chin. PoK is under the control of Pakistan while it ‘gifted away’ Aksai Chin to China subsequent to its invasion of Kashmir after Indian and Pakistani independence. This happened a year after the India-China war of 1962 when Pakistan found an opportunity to geographically link territories annexed by it to China (details in a subsequent story).
Earlier, Chowdhary had interrupted Shah’s address and questioned the government’s stand on PoK. “I don’t think you are thinking about Pok, you violated all rules and converted a State into a Union Territory overnight,” he said.
Chowdhary asked if, after the government’s decision to divide the State into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir was still an internal matter. “S Jaishankar (external affairs minister) told Mike Pompeo (US secretary of State) a few days before that Kashmir is a bilateral matter, so don’t interfere in it. Can Jammu and Kashmir still be an internal matter? We want to know. Entire Congress wants to be enlightened by you,” he asked.
To this, Amit Shah questioned whether Congress was suggesting a UN intervention (again) in solving the Kashmir issue? “This country’s Parliament cannot be stopped from making any law on Jammu and Kashmir. Does Congress want the UN to resolve Kashmir?” Shah asked while the treasury benches cheered the home minister with chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai‘ and ‘Vandemataram‘ in the Lower House of Parliament.
The government had yesterday revoked some provisions of Article 370 to take away Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. Additionally, it proposed a division of the State into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. This is being seen to bear far-reaching consequences in favour of India, which will redraw the map and future of the terrorism-ravaged region.
Shah had announced the decision in the Rajya Sabha yesterday with the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill garnering the support of more than two-thirds of MPs present in the House. This is the fulfilment of an ideological cum electoral promise of the BJP in less than 90 days of the formation of the Modi 2.0 government.