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President’s declaration ending special status under Art. 370 notified in gazette

Sounds of silence: A milkman goes about his work in Jammu on Tuesday.PTIPTI

The Centre’s decisions setting new terms of engagement with Jammu and Kashmir — by reorganising it as Union Territories, ending its special status under Article 370 and 35 (A) and extending to it all the provisions of the Constitution — were endorsed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday after a debate that lasted close to seven hours.

The Lok Sabha 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 resolution was adopted by the House with 351 members voting in its support and 72 against it, while one member abstained.

The Bill to create the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh was passed by 370 votes in favour and 70 against. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House.

The President’s declaration as passed by both Houses of Parliament that “all clauses of Article 370 shall cease to be operative in the State of Jammu and Kashmir” was notified in the Gazette of India later in the evening.

The declaration will come into effect from August 6, the notification issued within hours of the Lok Sabha passing the resolution said.

The resolution and the Bill were approved by the Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Replying to the debate, Home Minister Amit Shah assured the House that the government could restore full Statehood to Jammu and Kashmir if the situation improved and expressed its willingness to engage with the local population. “We don’t want to talk to the Hurriyat, but we are ready to speak to the people of Kashmir,” he said, adding that the security forces would not be moved out of the Valley until the situation became fully normal.

Mr. Shah also asserted that the Centre’s decision did not impact in any way India’s claim over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and the government would continue to press it.

Mr. Modi termed the passage of the resolution and the Bill “a momentous occasion in our Parliamentary democracy”.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla adjourned the House sine die after the resolution and the Bill were passed.

(With PTI inputs)

Deploring the “unilateral”, “brazen” and “undemocratic” way in which Article 370 was revoked, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), in a statement on Tuesday, said this provision that accorded special powers to Jammu and Kashmir should have been “honoured” till it was amended constitutionally after due consultation.

The statement came after a four-hour stormy meeting which brought to the fore deep divisions in the party on the issue.

CWC members Jyotiraditya Scindia and Deepender Hooda had earlier made public comments supporting the Centre’s move.

There have been equally strong voices against it, including from former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, in an interview to NDTV on Tuesday, accused Union Home Minister Amit Shah of lying that he had not been detained.

“I feel sad that the Home Minister of India can lie like this and say that I wasn’t detained. I was detained in my house,” the National Conference leader said.

“For 70 years we have fought the battle with the nation and today we are supposed to be the culprits? Article 370 and 35A, guaranteeing the special status of the State, was granted by the Government of India,” said Dr. Abdullah.

The three-time Chief Minister, who has also served as Union Minister in the past, said: “Today, what do you think people who stood by this nation feel, as to how we have been betrayed, how the State has been made a Union Territory, and dividing the regions... Are they going to divide people's hearts also?”

Dr. Abdullah said he, along with those who stood for democracy and secularism, would fight for unity of the country and take the fight to its logical end. “We will not give in,” he said.

“I may die because of my health, but I want to leave a message for the people of my State and people of India: we have been with you through thick and thin, I hope you will be with us through thick and thin... and pray for return of democracy in the country, return of secularism in the country,” he said.

During the debate on the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill in the Lok Sabha, Mr. Shah had said the Srinagar MP was neither detained nor arrested.

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