In a historic move the Indian government, the Rajya Sabha on Monday passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019 and adopted the resolution to scrap the Constitution’s Article 370 paving way for bifurcation of the state into two Union territories (UTs) and allowing people from other states to buy land there.
The BJP-led ruling alliance received support of many non-NDA parties, with these measures sailing through the upper house of Parliament without much effort.
The Rajya Sabha also passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019, providing for 10 per cent reservation for Economically Weaker Sections of upper castes in the state.
Replying on the resolution and the future of J&K, Home Minister Amit Shah said: “I would just say that the bill that the government is bringing is historic. Article 370 has prevented J&K from merging with India, rather than being a basis of its merger. The politics of vote bank has looted the youth of the state for over 70 years.”
He further urged all the opposition parties to debate and discuss on why the benefits of development were not allowed to reach the common people of J&K till now.
“Politics of religion must be avoided at all costs. Article 370 is equally harmful for people of all religions,” the Minister said.
Article 370 gave Jammu and Kashmir its own constitution and decision-making rights for all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs.
The Minister termed the provisions of Article 370 as discriminatory on the basis of gender, class, caste and place of origin. Youth were being taken for a ride by the political elite, he said, adding that this provision was temporary in the first place and it has to go in the larger interest of the people of J&K.
Earlier in the day after introducing two resolutions and two bills pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir, Shah explained that under Article 370(3), there is a provision that President, on recommendation of the Parliament, has the power to amend or cease the implementation of Article 370, through a public notification.
“This has already happened on a number of occasions in the past,” he noted.
The two resolutions moved by the Minister are Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 2019 issued by the President to supersede the 1954 order related to Article 370 and Resolution for Repeal of Article 370 of the Constitution. The two bills are Jammu & Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill, 2019 and Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The Home Minister said that post the repeal of Article 370, doors to private investment in J&K would be opened, which would in turn increase the potential for development there.
Increased investments would lead to increased job creation and further betterment of socio-economic infrastructure in the state. Opening of buying of lands would bring in investments from private individuals and multinational companies and give a boost to the local economy, as opposed to the apprehensions raised by those opposing this historic step.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, the Minister told the youth of the state that Article 370 holds no benefits for them.
“It would only benefit a few elite people who want to keep the youth poor for ever and corner all benefits for themselves,” he said.
While main opposition Congress objected to repeal of Article 370 and creation of UTs, many non-NDA parties such as the BSP, the AIADMK, the AAP, the YSRCP and the BJD supported the government.
AIADMK’s A. Navaneethakrishnan said: “Amma (late party chief J. Jayalalithaa) was well known for upholding sovereignty and integrity.
“So the AIADMK party supports the two resolutions, the Reorganisation Bill and the Reservation Bill.”
Participating in the discussion on the bill, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said that government had sought to disintegrate the country.
“We went from Prime Minister to Chief Minister, now we’re at Lt. Governor. You’ve made the Governor a clerk. You’ve made Jammu and Kashmir a non-entity. Bring this to your state and see what happens,” he told Amit Shah.
Senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram said that dismembering the state of Jammu and Kashmir would be a fatal error by the government and it sends very wrong signal to states in the country.
Opposing the move, CPI-M’s T.K. Rangarajan said today was black day.
“You didn’t consult people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. You dissolved the assembly, you don’t want to hold any election. You have taken another 35,000 Army people there. You’re creating another Palestine,” he said.