Expressing displeasure at the Centre’s move to “unilaterally attempt to revoke the autonomy” of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir, the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) on Monday, 5 August, said “We strongly oppose the move made with no regard to the Constitution and the rights it enshrines”.
J&K was blanketed in a state of siege on Monday as more than 30,000 fresh troops, in addition to the existing 6.5 lakh, were present in the Valley in order to prevent any untoward incident.
A curfew was imposed, internet services remained suspended, and regional elected leaders were put under house arrest in Kashmir.
Amid escalated tension in the Valley over reports of a possible military takeover of the state institutions and frenzied evacuation of tourists and Amarnath yatris; schools, universities and hostels remained shut, and movement across the state was restricted.
With “a complete gag on democratic space” and “unprecedented terror” among people, Union Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the resolution in the Rajya Sabha, the PUDR said in a statement on Monday.
At around 11 am on Monday, Shah announced that the President had already passed orders effectively abrogating Article 370, by extending all the provisions of the Constitution to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Through “convoluted and illegal processes and amendments”, the Union Home Minister then moved to introduce the J&K Reorganisation Bill in Parliament amid heavy protest from the Opposition, the human rights body further said.
The Bill seeks to bifurcate the state into Union Territories: the Union Territory of Ladakh will come under direct control of the Centre through the Lt Governor, however, the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir will have a Legislative Assembly of its own with very limited powers and overall lying with the Lt Governor.
Pointing out that the BJP government did not circulate the Bills in the House beforehand, and that the Speaker Venkaiah Naidu allowed MPs time only until 12:30 pm to propose amendments, the Delhi-based organisation said:
“It appears that preparations for the move had been underway for months, as the imposition of President’s Rule in December 2018 helped facilitate the government’s actions today.”
“The people of Kashmir have been denied any voice through the unconstitutional capture of state institutions and elected representatives, and the force of sheer state terror,” the statement read.
Later during the day, the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill which is now due to be tabled before the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
In the evening, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah were reportedly taken into preventive detention.
Stating that the BJP government is bringing its plan for the people of Kashmir into action at gunpoint, the PUDR said “we fear ominous consequences as the blackout in the Valley prevents any access to information about the conditions of the people on the ground.”