Parliament passes bill to end spl status for J&K; move evokes sharp reactions from China, Pak

Lok Sabha nod to scrap art 370; Pak army says would go to ‘any extent’ for Kashmiris; China asks India, Pakistan to exercise restraint; J&K remains under curfew with all communication lines shut

Parliament passes bill to end spl status for J&K; move evokes sharp reactions from China, Pak


Parliament on Tuesday 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 Lok Sabha with 351 members voting in its support and 72 against it, while one member abstained.

The bill to create two UTs -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh -- was passed by 370 votes in favour and 70 against.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House when the motion and the bill were cleared.

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

Just before the voting, SP members, excluding Mulayam Singh Yadav, and NCP members staged a walk out. The Trinamool Congress had already made it known that it would not participate in the voting and had left the House earlier. NDA ally JD(U) also walked out of the proceedings.

Some Congress members and Assaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) pressed for division of votes. Biju Janata Dal, TRS, BSP, YSR Congress and AIADMK voted in favour of the resolution and the bill.

Replying to the debate, Home Minister Amit Shah said that India will continue to claim the territories of Jammu and Kashmir under the occupation of Pakistan and asserted that the UN charter was no longer relevant to the Kashmir issue after Pakistan violated it with its aggression in 1965.

He also ruled out any talks with separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference.

"We don't want to talk to Hurriyat, but we ready to speak to people of Kashmir. The government would never talk with separatist elements and those who back cross border terrorism," he said.

Shah said the Modi government will have no hesitation in restoring statehood to Jammu and Kashmir when normalcy returns.

"India will continue to claim Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," he said.

Shah said Article 370 was creating doubts over Jammu and Kashmir's relations with India.

"This is not a historical blunder but we are rectifying the historical blunder," he said dismissing the opposition charges that the government was committing a mistake.

Referring to the applicability of United Nations charter on India and Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir, Shah said under this charter, neither armed forces could violate the territorial integrity of other country.

"The day in 1965 Pakistan violated this provision, the charter was violated. The question of a referendum ended with the Pakistani aggression.

"Hence, the Government of India has full rights to take any decision regarding its territorial integrity. This was even agreed to by the UN," he said.

Shah said over 41,500 people were killed in Jammu and Kashmir due to militancy since 1989 and blamed the Article 370 and Article 35A for the problem.

Defending the government's action to put restrictions in Kashmir Valley in the last two days, the home minister said law and order situation there has not deteriorated and whatever actions have been taken were all precautionary.

Shah said Pakistan has misused the presence of Article 370 to sow the seeds of separatism and terrorism in J&K.

"Because of Article 370, the laws of our country do not reach Jammu and Kashmir and it encourages separatism and terrorism," he said.

He also said there was no intention of the government to remove Article 371, which gives certain special rights to some Northeast states.

The Home Minister said Article 370 was an obstruction to the development of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

The bill provides for carrying out delimitation of assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir UT.

The government had on Monday revoked some provisions of the Article 370 to take away militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir's special status, and brought in the bill for splitting the state into two Union territories – J&K and Ladakh.

Shah later withdrew the J&K Reservation (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2019, in Lok Sabha, saying that the clauses incorporated in the legislation will automatically come into effect in the two new Union Territories. The Bill will also be withdrawn from Rajya Sabha.

After the resolution and the bill were adopted, Speaker Om Birla adjourned Lok Sabha sine die.

Meanwhile, China on Tuesday objected to the formation of Ladakh as Union Territory by India, saying it undermined its territorial sovereignty.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China has always opposed to India's inclusion of the Chinese territory in the western sector of the China-India boundary into its administrative jurisdiction.

Reacting to it, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said it was an internal matter concerning the territory of India.

“India does not comment on the internal affairs of other countries and similarly expects other countries to do likewise,” he said.

While asserting that "recently India has continued to undermine China's territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law", Hua said such practice was "unacceptable and will not come into force".

She also said, "We urge India to exercise prudence in words and deeds concerning the boundary question, strictly abide by relevant agreements concluded between the two sides and avoid taking any move that may further complicate the boundary question."

India and China have 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) between them.

In a separate response on exchange of fire along the Indo-Pak Line of Control, Hua expressed "serious concern" and asked India and Pakistan to exercise restraint, and avoid actions that "unilaterally" change the status quo and exacerbate tensions between them.

Also, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday said that his troops are prepared to "go to any extent" to help Kashmiris.

Gen Bajwa presided over the Corps Commanders Conference, which is the highest decision making forum of the army, held at General Headquarters on a single point agenda of Kashmir.

"Pakistan Army firmly stands by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end. We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfil our obligations...," Gen Bajwa told the army commanders.

Reacting sharply to the Indian government's announcement, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday expressed apprehension that Pulwama-like attacks can follow the revocation of the special status for Jammu and Kashmir, which could trigger a conventional war between Pakistan and India.

"This will be a war that no one will win and the implications will be global," he warned while addressing a rare joint sitting of Parliament that was convened to discuss the Kashmir situation.

Khan said that his government would approach the world leaders and apprise them of situation in Kashmir.

"We will fight it at every forum including the UN Security Council," he said, adding that Pakistan also plans to take the matter to the International Court of Justice.

Meanwhile, J&K remained under the curfew amid the presence of thousands of paramilitary troopers and police personnel, with all communication lines including the internet shut. Former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti remained under arrest while Farooq Abdullah was house arrested in Srinagar.

A few editors and reporters in New Delhi expressed concern over the lack of “voices from Kashmir” and termed the total black out of news from “Srinagar dateline” as “unprecedented”.

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