Friday 26 February 2021
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Jammu & Kashmir: A new chapter begins

The flag of Jammu and Kashmir retires today as do Articles 370 and 35A as the area turns temporarily from a State to a Union Territory

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Politics India Jammu & Kashmir: A new chapter begins

After the removal of Articles 370 and 35A from Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August, today that is 31 October onwards, many aspects of Jammu and Kashmir will become history.

Articles 370 and 35A gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir out of the 30 States of India. With their removal, the special status of the State has ended.

Simultaneously, the State was divided into two parts of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. They emerge as Union Territories today onwards.

For 65 years, Jammu and Kashmir was an autonomous State within India. Due to this, it had a separate administration and a separate financial and legal system, which prevented people from outside the State from buying land or property there.

Also, in all government establishments and government vehicles, a red flag of the State (with three white stripes and plough marks) was attached to the Indian tricolour.

The Modi government believes that such constitutional provisions are not only hindering the development of Jammu and Kashmir as a tourism and investment destination but also provoking separatist sentiments. The provisions were also giving an opportunity to Pakistan to exploit the separatist feeling in a dominant section of the local population through a proxy war waged by training them in Pakistan and sending them back to India to execute terrorist plans.

These provisions were abolished by a resolution in Parliament on 5 August and now the State has been divided into two Union Territories.

The flag of Jammu and Kashmir retired today

Now that the red flag will not be seen, only the Indian tricolour will remain on government installations.

No State of India has ever been made a union territory although some Indian States have been divided. Jharkhand was formed from Bihar, Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh and Telangana was created from Andhra Pradesh. All these regional changes were made after the demand of the people and implemented with the consent of the local legislature. At the same time, the local voice had lost their sanctity as the Hindus were ethnically cleansed from the Valley by the Muslims of Kashmir.

Officials say that restructuring the new Union Territory is a long exercise. At least half a dozen commissions, including the State Human Rights Commission, have been abolished and their staff has been merged with other departments.

More than 100 laws made in the last decades have ended and Jammu and Kashmir will now be governed by central laws. The name of the governor has now become Lieutenant Governor and some departments have been created to implement the central law. The number of seats in the local legislature will be increased from 89 to 114.

Local officials were also afraid to speak on this and whoever spoke, they stipulated not to reveal the name.

The law related to women and children applicable in the whole of India and the law related to triple talaq will be applied naturally in Jammu and Kashmir, too.

Officials here said that an investment proposal of Rs 5,000 crore was being approved for various projects related to health, education and energy.

Map of India, beginning 31 October 2019
Map of India, beginning 31 October 2019

The government is repeatedly reassuring people that their local culture or identity will not be affected by this step but there is a fear of ‘outsiders’ coming into the people who will exploit the resources there.

Home Minister Amit Shah has long emphasised that a new kind of politics with new faces is needed to end the ‘unjust rule of two families’ in Kashmir. His reference is towards Abdullah and the Mufti family.

Along with three former chief ministers, many leaders and social workers are held under the house arrest as they were found inciting people to turn violent. BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, who is handling the affairs of Kashmir, recently visited Srinagar to tell these leaders that there were enough jails in India for those who disturb the peace, reports BBC.

The government has recently set up development commissions in all 22 districts in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The president of these commissions has been elected through a poll in which the already elected panchayat members took part.

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