While Kargil, Leh districts form Ladakh, the rest of the region constitutes the UT of Jammu and Kashmir
With the bifurcation of J&K, India now has nine Union territories and 28 states
The erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir has now ceased to exist, with the two federal units of Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), coming into existence on Thursday, and Radha Krishna Mathur and G.C. Murmu taking oath as the first lieutenant-governors (L-Gs) of Ladakh and J&K, respectively.
President Ram Nath Kovind also revoked President’s rule in the erstwhile state, on Thursday.
The move comes almost 90 days after the Centre scrapped provisions of Article 370 that had given Jammu and Kashmir special status and split it into two Union territories (UTs) under the J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019. This is the first time that a state has been divided into UTs. Now, India has nine UTs and 28 states.
“It has been 70 years and nobody wanted to touch Articles 370 and 35A. In 2019 the country handed over the reins to Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again and 5 August marks the day when these two Articles were removed," said Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday in New Delhi.
With the move, the flag and constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), have ceased to exist, with the Indian Penal Code (IPC) now extending to both UTs.
Kargil and Leh districts form Ladakh, while the rest of the region constitutes the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The governor of J&K will now act as the L-G, who will be the principal administrator.
Jammu and Kashmir will also have its own legislative assembly, under which, according to the Act, the number of seats will go up to 114 from 87 currently, following a delimitation exercise.
As the changes come into effect, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while paying tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on his 144th birth anniversary, defended the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370, stating that special status provisions only fostered greater terrorism in the region.
“The new system in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh is not meant to draw any boundaries on land, but to build a strong link of trust. (Sardar) Patel had once said that had he handled the Kashmir issue, it would not have taken so long to resolve it," Modi said.
Former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is currently under preventive detention, tweeted: “While Kashmiris mourn massacre of J&K, the same development is a source of sadistic pleasure to rest of India. The emotional gulf that exists between you and us couldn’t be any wider. You violated our consent and rights, but will never control how we feel. Long live Kashmir inshallah."
While Kashmir remained under a tight security blanket on Thursday to pre-empt any episodes of protests, stone-pelting and militant violence, celebrations broke out in neighbouring Ladakh, which had hailed the move since its passage in both Houses of Parliament, in August.
As the Act came into effect on Thursday, a Presidential order issued on Thursday said: “I, Ramnath Kovind, President of India…assume to myself as President of India all functions of the Government of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and all powers vested in or exercisable by the Lieutenant Governor of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir; (b) declare that the powers of the Legislature or Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament."