Kashmir Indepth

MHA to continue to have final say on AFSPA in J&K

The Cabinet Secretariat on Friday notified rules reasserting the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as the authority that would decide on the imposition of AFSPA in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh.

As per the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, the UT of J&K will have a legislative Assembly but the UT of Ladakh will not have one. While the new Lieutenant Governors of both the Union Territories were sworn in on Thursday, there have been no indications as yet on Assembly elections in J&K.

Earlier, before the State of J&K was bifurcated and downgraded it was the MHA or the Governor that was the designated authority for notifying the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (21 of 1990).

Friday’s notification also renamed the Department of Jammu and Kashmir in the MHA as the “Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs”. The notification also included the Hindi translation of the name change in Roman script — “Jammu, Kashmir aur Ladakh Vibhag”.

Panthers Party activists raise slogans during a protest and hunger strike against the scrapping of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the Jammu and Kashmir, in Jammu on Friday, November 1, 2019.

AFSPA, which empowers security forces to conduct operations anywhere and arrest anyone without a warrant, is in force in J&K since July 5,1990.

The government said the department in the MHA would be responsible for all matters relating to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir or Union Territory of Ladakh, including counter terrorism within Jammu and Kashmir, and coordination with the Ministry of Defence as regards manning and managing the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, but excluding those matters with which the Ministry of External Affairs was concerned.

“All matters falling within the purview of the Union Government in terms of the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019), relating to both the Union Territories, except all such matters as have been specifically assigned under these rules to any other Ministry or Department of the Government of India,” the notification read.

In Ladakh, the Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs would be responsible for all matters enumerated in the State List and concurrent List in any such matter, except all such matters as have, under these rules, been specifically assigned to any other ministry or department of the government of India.

The MHA’s department would also handle general questions relating to public services in the UT of Ladakh and service matters in so far as these fall within the purview of the State governments. Provisions specific to the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and general questions relating to public services in the said Union territory (Ladakh) and service matters relating to the officers of the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Police Service serving in connection with the affairs of the UT, The Hindu quoted MHA notification.

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