Parliament repeals Article 370, passes J&K re-organisation bill

Amit Shah Article 370 Jammu Kashmir Ladakh - The Federal
Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Lok Sabha, New Delhi. (LSTV/PTI Photo)

Parliament on Tuesday approved a resolution abrogating special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and a bill for splitting the state into two Union Territories.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, with the assent of the President of India Ram Nath Kovind, will pave the way for the creation of two Union Territories out of the state — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The bill was passed by 370 votes in favour and 70 against while the resolution was adopted by Lok Sabha with 351 members voting in its support and 72 against it, while one member abstained.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House when the motion and the bill were cleared. The resolution and the bill were approved by Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Just before the voting, SP members, excluding Mulayam Singh Yadav, and NCP members staged a walkout. The Trinamool Congress had already made it known that it would not participate in the voting and had left the House earlier. NDA ally JD(U) also walked out of the proceedings.

Some Congress members and Assaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) pressed for division of votes. Biju Janata Dal, TRS, BSP, YSR Congress and AIADMK voted in favour of the resolution and the bill.

Replying to the debate, Home Minister Amit Shah said that India will continue to claim the territories of Jammu and Kashmir under the occupation of Pakistan and asserted that the UN charter was no longer relevant to the Kashmir issue after Pakistan violated it with its aggression in 1965.

He also ruled out any talks with separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference. “We dont want to talk to Hurriyat, but we ready to speak to people of Kashmir. The government would never talk with separatist elements and those who back cross border terrorism,” he said.

Shah said the Modi government will have no hesitation in restoring statehood to Jammu and Kashmir when normalcy returns. “India will continue to claim Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” he said.

Shah said Article 370 was creating doubts over Jammu and Kashmir’s relations with India. “This is not a historical blunder but we are rectifying the historical blunder,” he said dismissing the opposition charges that the government was committing a mistake.

UN charter not violated

Referring to the applicability of United Nation’s charter on India and Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir, Shah said under this charter, neither armed forces could violate the territorial integrity of the other country.

“The day in 1965 Pakistan violated this provision, the charter was violated. The question of a referendum ended with Pakistani aggression. Hence, the Government of India has full rights to take any decision regarding its territorial integrity. This was even agreed to by the UN,” he said.

Taking a swipe at the Congress, Shah asked as to who took Kashmir matter to UN and who brought a unilateral ceasefire in 1948? “Had our forces been given a free hand to deal with the situation, PoK would have been a part of India today” he said.

The Home Minister said PoK and Aksai Chin are an inalienable part of Jammu and Kashmir and the seats there are still part of the legislature. “I want to state that J&K is an inalienable part of India. There are no two versions about that,” he said.

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He also strongly refuted the suggestion that abrogation of Article 370 was “communal agenda” and said the provision in the Constitution was discriminatory and against minorities, women and the welfare of the people.

Shah said over 41,500 people were killed in Jammu and Kashmir due to militancy since 1989 and blamed the Article 370 and Article 35A for the problem.

Defending the government’s action to put restrictions in the Kashmir Valley in the last two days, the Home Minister said law and order situation there has not deteriorated and whatever actions have been taken were all precautionary. Shah said Pakistan has misused the presence of Article 370 to sow the seeds of separatism and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Because of Article 370, the laws of our country do not reach Jammu and Kashmir and it encourages separatism and terrorism,” he said.

‘No plans to repeal Article 371, special rights of north-eastern states’

Making it clear that there was no comparison between Article 370 and Article 371, he said by drawing a comparison between the two, attempt was being made to mislead the country and the public.

He also said there was no intention of the government to remove Article 371, which gives certain special rights to some Northeast states.

Hitting out at the Congress, Shah said “This ( Article 370) was coming in the way of your votebank, therefore, you are not finding it right”.

Also read: Centre may target Northeast next, fears Mizoram after Article 370 repeal

The Home Minister said Article 370 was an obstruction to the development of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. It was against the empowerment of women and Dalits and had pulled the state down in the education index, he said. Shah said Jammu and Kashmir was deprived of all the rights which were being enjoyed by citizens of other parts of the country.

Barring Jammu and Kashmir, the delimitation exercise had been conducted across the country, he said. The bill provides for carrying out delimitation of assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir UT.

The Home Minister alleged that the Congress has strangled democracy and it has not done any good to the youth of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. With the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370, “we will be able to bring together the people of Valley,” he said.

The government had on Monday revoked some provisions of the Article 370 to take away militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, and brought in the bill for splitting the state into two Union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, a bold and far-reaching decision that seeks to redraw the map and future of a region.

Also read: BJP dumps Article 370 and political niceties; portends ominous possibilities

Fulfilling an electoral promise of the BJP less than 90 days after the Modi 2.0 government took power, Shah had announced the decision in Rajya Sabha, which approved both the resolution and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation bill.

J&K Reservation Bill withdrawn

Shah later withdrew the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha, saying that the clauses incorporated in the legislation will automatically come into effect in the two new Union Territories. The Bill will also be withdrawn from Rajya Sabha.

After the resolution and the bill were adopted, Speaker Om Birla adjourned Lok Sabha sine die.

During the debate on the resolution and the bills, several opposition members had criticised the government for not taking stakeholders on board, a charge vehemently rejected by the treasury benches.

Also read: Scindia, Congress leaders support govt on Article 370, embarrass party

Article 370(3) provides the President of India the powers to amend or repeal the article by issuing a notification, based on a recommendation of Constituent Assembly of J&K. President of India signed the Constitution Order 2019 Monday regarding Article 370(1), under which all the provision under Article 4 would be applicable to J&K. J&K constituent assembly would be read as J&K Legislative Assembly. Similar changes to Article 370 have been done in the past as well.