Rajya Sabha passes Bill to reorganise J&K, govt says it's for development

The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed a Bill to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir as a union territory, hours after the government scrapped a law giving special status for the restive region. 

"The entire constitution will be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir," said Home Minister Minister Amit Shah in Parliament this morning, as he announced that Article 370 was being repealed.

"Article 370 is biggest hurdle to normalcy in the state," he said adding his government was committed to making Jammu and Kashmir the most developed state in the country.

The Bill will split the state into two union territories: Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. Jammu & Kashmir will have a representative body. 

Rajya Sabha also approved a bill to extend 10 pc reservation to economically weaker sections in the state as well as the resolution on abrogating Article 370 by voice vote.

The government lifted a ban on property purchases by non-residents, opening the way for Indians to invest and settle there, just as they can elsewhere in India.

Lok Sabha will vote on the Bills on Tuesday. 

"Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy," said Mehbooba Mufti, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

"It will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent," she said in a post on Twitter.

The Home Ministry ordered all states to put security forces on "maximum alert" to maintain public order and quash the spread of any rumours.

Pakistan, which also claims Kashmir, said it strongly condemned the decision, which is bound to further strain ties between the nuclear-armed rivals.

"As the party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps," its foreign ministry said in a statement.

(With inputs from PTI and Reuters)

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