Explained: Jammu and Kashmir state to two UTs — today, later
Headline : Explained: Jammu and Kashmir state to two UTs — today, later
- The state of Jammu and Kashmir will be officially bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh on October 31. The day will mark the beginning of the functioning of the two UTs at a bureaucratic level.
- This marks an important milestone in the history of J&K and culminates the process that started on August 5 with the landmark announcement for emasculation of Article 370 as well as end of statehood for J&K
- The period between August 5 and October 31 has been used by the state administration and the Home Ministry to put a basic bureaucratic structure in place to implement the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act.
- This is the first time that a state is being bifurcated into two UTs. In the past, there have been instances of a UT becoming a full state or a state being reorganised into two states.
Slow process of Reorganization
- As of now, the state administration has implemented all that is mentioned in the Reorganisation Act as it is.
- For full-fledged bifurcation of States, the Reorganisation Act gives a period of one year. But, reorganisation of states is a slow process that at times can take years.
- Issues relating to reorganisation of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, which was bifurcated into Andhra and Telangana in 2013, are still being brought to the Union Home Ministry for resolution.
Implication of the official bifurcation
- Post the official bifurcation the Centre will be in direct control of police and law & order in J&K from 31st October.
- It also puts an end to J&K’s flag and constitution, symbols of the state’s special status.
- The Lieutenant Governors of the two UTs will take oath of office along with the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
- On the ground, the two UTs will get their own Chief Secretaries and other top bureaucrats, their own police chiefs and key supervisory officers.
Impact on laws that governed the state of Jammu & Kashmir
- Legislative restructuring is a work in progress, with a lot remaining to be done. While 153 state laws are to be repealed, 166 have been retained.
- The exercise of repealing Acts that mention “applicable to all of India but not the state of Jammu and Kashmir” will also have to be undertaken.
- Further, there is a massive legislative exercise of making state-specific insertions into the 108 central laws that would now be applicable to the two Union Territories.
Impact on staff
- While the bureaucratic structures are in place, the staff of the state administration are yet to be divided.
- As of now, the Home Ministry has issued an interim order to maintain the station of all staff in the lower bureaucracy as it is.
- This is to ensure that the two UTs keep on functioning without any hiccups beginning October 31. However, a subsequent reorganisation of staff will take place in due course.
Filling the political void
- It is early days, but the Centre hopes to slowly fill the political void created following the arrest of almost all notable politicians and prominent workers of mainstream parties in the Valley.
- A new political alternative being catalyzed by the Centre is starting to take shape in Kashmir.
- Several young aspiring politicians are ready to look beyond the abrogation of Article 370, and willing to start afresh a dialogue with the people and engage with the Centre.
- The government is also banking on the emergence of a new crop of political leaders from panchayats and municipal bodies.
EU MPs in J&K
- European Union parliamentarians visiting Kashmir termed the dilution of Article 370 an internal issue of India and said they stand by the country in its fight against terrorism.
- The 23-member delegation also condemned the killing of five labourers from West Bengal by militants in Kulgam district.
- They also acknowledged that terrorism is a severe problem in Kashmir and named Pakistan as its source.