Notwithstanding restrictions on movement of people, there were celebrations in parts of Jammu as the government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution that granted special status to the state.
People danced to drumbeats and distributed sweets as they hailed the Centre’s move as a “bold”, “historic”, and “monumental” decision towards delivery of justice to the region, which has always complained of being discriminated against by the political setup.
Late Sunday night, the Jammu and Kashmir government imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) – that bars assembly of five or more people in an area – in the state and also downed communication channels.
Despite the prohibitory orders, residents of the Bohri, Muthi, New Plot, and Trikuta Nagar area came out of their homes, albeit in smaller groups, to express their happiness with beating of drums, dancing and exchanging sweets.
They raised slogans hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. “I am overwhelmed, emotional, jubilant,” said Ankush Veshin, an entrepreneur, who runs a diagnostic centre in Talab Tilloo area here. “Hearing the announcement (by Shah in Rajya Sabha) gave me goosebumps. For the first time, I felt being a part of India.”
Pawan Gupta, a teacher from Bakshinagar, and his family never believed this day would come in their lifetime. “This decision is going to change our fate. Now we will be our own decision-makers, not Kashmir-centric political setup that discriminated against us on all fronts for past seven decades,” Gupta said.
State BJP president Ravinder Raina termed the decision historic. “PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have created history. The historic decision is in the interest of the nation. Modi understood the pain of the people of Jammu. We are thankful to him,” he said.
Activists of Dogra Front, led by its president Ashok Gupta, also participated in the celebrations.
Sunita Devi, a college student from Valkimi Basti, said that she was happy that Article 370 has been given a “permanent burial”. “Our community was discriminated against for over last several decades due to this Article. Our blessings are with Modiji and Shahji for delivering us justice,” she said.
Sushma Bhat Tiwari, who is from Kulgam district of the Kashmir valley and works as a senior HR professional with a multinational company, welcomed the decision as a victory for women and the end of gender-bias.
“I married a non-Kashmiri several years ago and lost the rights of being citizen of Jammu and Kashmir. My children were also denied right to property and citizenship due to this law. But we are happy that this has been done away with and justice done to women like me,” she said.
After the Union Cabinet met on Monday morning, Shah announced in the Rajya Sabha that provisions of Article 370 were being scrapped. He said that the Ladakh division of Jammu & Kashmir would be made a separate Union Territory without a legislature, a longstanding demand of the people of that region.
Jammu & Kashmir would be a separate Union Territory and it would have a legislature, he said.