Process of ending Article 370 completed, new Lt. Governors take oath

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SRINAGAR: Under the new administrative arrangements, Girish Chandra Murmu took oath as the lieutenant governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday as J&K officially lost its statehood and was spilt into two UTs- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh at midnight Wednesday.

Murmu was sworn in by chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir high court Gita Mittal in a ceremony at the Raj Bhavan in Srinagar on Thursday. The warrant of Murmu’s appointment was read out by Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam.

A 1985 batch IAS officer from Gujarat, Murmu served as expenditure secretary at the Centre before being appointed as Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir. BJP leader Jugal Kishore and Rajya Sabha MP and PDP member Nazir Laway were among the over 250 guests present the function, reports PTI.

The UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature like Puducherry with an elected legislative assembly and a chief minister.

Earlier in the day, RK Mathur was sworn-in as the L-G of Ladakh by the high court chief justice in Leh.

Narindera Modi

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said Article 370 had created “an artificial wall” separating Jammu and Kashmir from the rest of the country and its abrogation on August 5 was fulfillment of Sardar Vallabh bhai Patel’s dream project to unite India. The Prime Minister was speaking on Thursday at an event in Gujarat to mark India’s first home minister’s 144th anniversary, celebrated as the National unity day.

Prime Minister said a “new age of political stability” and development has dawned in the restructured Jammu and Kashmir where Block Development Council (BDC) elections were held recently for the first time after Independence.

“New highways, railway lines, new hospitals, new colleges will take people of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh to new heights,” the Prime Minister said hours after the state of Jammu and Kashmir was officially bifurcated into two Union territories at the stroke of midnight on Wednesday.

 “In three decades, over 40,000 people had lost their lives due to terrorism in J&K that had Article 370. How long could the country witness the death of so many innocent people? The wall has been broken down, and Sardar Patel’s dream has come true.” PM Modi said after watching Ekta Diwas Parade in a ground in Gujarat’s Kevadia, adjacent to Patel’s 182-metre long Statue of Unity- the world’s tallest.

Prime Minister added that Sardar Patel had said he would have sorted out the J&K problem, had he been given the responsibility for its integration.

MEPs visit

The visit by EU MPs to Kashmir was not at all internationalisation of the issue and such delegations do not necessarily have to come through official channels, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

In its first comments on the issue, the ministry also said the important point was whether such an engagement serves larger national interests.

In the first visit by a foreign delegation, a team of 23 MEPs travelled to Kashmir on Tuesday on a two-day trip to have a first-hand assessment of the situation after the state’s special status was revoked in August by abrogating provisions of Article 370.

“We feel that such exchanges are part of people-to-people contacts,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

The visit was not at all internationalisation of Kashmir issue, he added.

Kumar also asserted that the views of MEPs reflected their understanding of ground realities and threat of terrorism in Kashmir. The visit of the MEPs to Kashmir was not ceding of ground on Kashmir, he said.