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J&K ceases to be a state; two new UTs come into being

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Srinagar, Oct 31: In an important milestone in the history of J&K, the state was officially bifurcated into two Union Territories - Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh - on the intervening night of October 30-31.

Photo credit: PTI

The creation of the UTs of J&K and Ladakh coincides with the birth anniversary of country's first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who is credited with the merger of over 560 princely states into the Union of India.

IAS officers Girish Chandra Murmu and RK Mathur, who have been appointed the new Lieutenant Governors (L-G) for the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh respectively, will be sworn in at separate functions in Srinagar and Leh on Thursday by Chief Justice of J&K High Court Gita Mittal.

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While Murmu, a 1985-batch Gujarat cadre officer, is serving as the Expenditure Secretary in the Union Finance Ministry, Mathur, a 1977-batch officer, has served as the defence secretary and is a former Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).

According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the appointed day for the two UTs is October 31 and these will come into existence at midnight (Wednesday-Thursday), nearly three months after the announcement in Rajya Sabha.

A day before the creation of the Ladakh UT, the Centre appointed senior IAS officer Umang Narula advisor to the Lt Governor of the Himalayan region and an Inspector General of Police "head of police".

This is for the first time that a state is converted into two UTs even though there are numerous examples of a UT becoming a full state or a state carved up into two states. The total number of states in the country will be now 28 while the total UTs will go up to seven.

While Jammu always complained about the lion's share going to the Kashmir valley, Ladakh too felt neglected.

The Modi government had on August 5 abrogated provisions of Article 370 that granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

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.

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