In occupied Kashmir, situation continues to remain far from normal in the Kashmir Valley as well as Muslim majority areas of Jammu region and Ladakh division on the 89th consecutive day on Friday (today) due to New Delhi-imposed unprecedented military lockdown, Kashmir Media Service reported.
The move is in accordance with the Government's August 5 announcement withdrawing the State's Special Status under Article 370 and bifurcating the State into Union Territories. Home minister Amit Shah in his address said that the reorganisation was necessitated by the constant threats of cross-border terrorism in J&K and the demand of the people of Ladakh. He has also snidely hinted that Pakistan was behind this terrorism. "These changes are illegal and void as per the relevant UNSC resolutions, and do not prejudice the right to self-determination of the people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir", Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The reorganization process which started with the nullification of Article 370 on August 5 - thereby scrapping the special status enjoyed by J&K - is yet to fulfil its goal of bringing normalcy to Kashmir.
As Jammu and Kashmir transitioned from a state into two union territories, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reiterated his appeal that India and Pakistan deal with the Kashmir issue through dialogue and ensure full respect for human rights.
Government employees of the new union territories will start getting salaries and other benefits according to the recommendations of the seventh Pay Commission.
With this move, the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and the Ranbir Penal Code has ceased to exist. In Ladakh and its capital Leh, there was at least some celebration.
The nomenclature of the MHA wing, Department of Jammu and Kashmir Affairs (Jammu tatha Kashmir Vibhag), has also been changed to Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs (Jammu, Kashmir aur Ladakh Vibhag) with the bifurcation of the state and creation of the two UTs. There has of course been no referendum but the reported reaction in Leh demonstrates the complexities involved in the Kashmir question.
Babar said he feared that Delhi's decision would lead to rise in radicalisation and would serve as an "invitation to foreign militants". This ill-advised move has drawn strong criticism from Pakistan and China, as both states have territorial stakes in what is an internationally recognised dispute. There have been words of warning and protest from United States senators, the UN and rights activists around the world.
But the government's decision still hangs in the balance, with the Indian Supreme Court set to hear a challenge to the decision in November. A reply to its questions is to be handed over by the Indian government this week.