Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill: How decision to split state into two Union territories will change the face of India

In a historic and decisive move by the Narendra Modi government on Monday, Home Minister Amit Shah moved a proposal to revoke Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir and tabled a bill (Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill) to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Tabling the bill in the House, Shah announced that while UT in Ladakh will have no legislature like Chandigarh, the other UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature like Delhi and Puducherry. Shah also moved a resolution that all clauses of Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, will not be applicable in the state. He said that this will come into effect when the President gives assent and the Central government notifies it. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill have to clear the Rajya Sabha hurdles before a formal order is issued to divide the state into two Union Territories. This means the upcoming assembly elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir division while Ladakh will have direct control of the Centre. At present, the states three divisions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh divisions have 89 Assembly seats. While Jammu has 37 seats, Kashmir has 46 seats and the Ladakh region has just 4 seats despite having an area which is larger than both Jammu and Kashmir. According to the Jammu and Kashmir governments website, the state has an area of 2,22,236 sq km and has 22 districts. While Jammu has an area of 26,293 sq km, Kashmir is spread across 16,351 sq kms. Both the divisions have 10 districts each. But the Jammu division has less Assembly seats against the Kashmir division which has 6.89 lakh population, which just 15 lakh more than 5.35 lakh of Jammus. The Ladakh region, on the other hand, has just two districts and is the countrys largest parliamentary constituency in terms of area. Once the bill receives Presidential assent, the strength of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly will be reduced to 85. The creation of two Union Terrorities will take the number to 9 and decrease the number of states from 29 to 28. In our country, a Union Territory is not like a state which has its own elected government. It is a kind of administrative division which is directly governed by the central government. At present, there are seven UTs in the country – Chandigarh (which serves as the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana), Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Puducherry. Out of these five UTs, Delhi and Puducherry enjoy partial statehood status and thus they have their own legislatures. The council of ministers in these UTs function partially like state but reports to the Lieutenant Governor. As per the Constitution, the President appoints an administrator or Lieutenant Governor for each Union Territory. FULL TEXT OF AMIT SHAH IN RAJYA SABHA The Ladakh Division of the State of Jammu and Kashmir has a large area but is sparsely populated with a very difficult terrain. There has been a long pending demand of people of Ladakh, to give it the status of a Union Territory to enable them to realise their aspirations. The Union Territory of Ladakh will be without Legislature. Further, keeping in view the prevailing internal security situation, fuelled by cross border terrorism in the existing State of Jammu and Kashmir, a separate Union Territory for Jammu and Kashmir is being created. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be with legislature.