Three months after Jammu and Kashmir was served a jolt in the form of the abrogation of Article 370, the strife-torn state ceased to exist on Wednesday midnight when the clock struck 12 midnight. India now has two new Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh – while it has one less state.
The big change of status for Jammu and Kashmir comes 86 days after the Centre moved to scrap the special status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh will be headed by Lieutenant Governors GC Murmu and RK Mathur, respectively. They will take oath on Thursday.
This is for the first time in the history of India that a state is being converted into two Union Territories. The total number of states in the country will now be 28, while the total UTs will go up to nine.
The swearing-in ceremony of the two Lieutenant Governors will be first held in Leh where Mathur would be administered oath of office followed by that of Murmu in Srinagar.
With this, the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and the Ranbir Penal Code will cease to exist from Thursday, when the nation celebrates ‘National Unity Day’ to mark the birth anniversary of the country’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who is credited for the merger of over 560 states into the Union of India.
Both Murmu and Mathur will be sworn-in by Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Gita Mittal.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, states that the appointed day for the two UTs is October 31 and these will come into existence in the midnight (Wednesday-Thursday).
The announcement of abrogation of the state’s special status and its bifurcation was made in Rajya Sabha on August 5.
The UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature like Puducherry while Ladakh will be a UT without legislature like Chandigarh and both the UTs will be headed by two separate lieutenant governors (LG), as per the Act.
The Centre will be in direct control of the police and the law and order in Jammu and Kashmir from Thursday when it becomes a UT, while the land will be under the elected government there.
The UT of Ladakh will be under the direct control of the central government which will administer the high-altitude region through the LG.
Senior IAS officer Umang Narula was appointed advisor to Ladakh’s Lt Governor and S S Khandare police head of the UT.