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J&K’s transition to 2 union territories a low-key affair under massive security blanket

Police officials say situation across Valley was tense but largely peaceful, as the Lt Governors of J&K and Ladakh took oath in Srinagar and Leh respectively.

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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir’s transition from a state to two union territories Thursday proved to be low-key affair, with J&K High Court Chief Justice Gita Mittal administering the oath of office to the new Lieutenant Governors, Girish Chandra Murmu (J&K) and R.K. Mathur (Ladakh) in Srinagar and Leh respectively.

Murmu’s oath-taking ceremony took place at the Raj Bhavan in Srinagar under a massive security blanket amid a shutdown in the Valley.

A large number of security forces personnel were deployed at Gupkar Road, which leads to the Raj Bhavan and is known to house the political elite of J&K — two former chief ministers, Farooq and Omar Abdullah, are currently under detention at different points along it.

Across the Valley, though, the situation continued to remain tense, with security beefed up. A senior police official said the situation remained largely peaceful, which was a relief for the security forces who had to confront multiple stone-pelting incidents Tuesday.

Also read: Why Ladakh is unlikely to gain much when it becomes a Union Territory

The ceremony in Srinagar

No media outlet was allowed to cover the ceremony in Srinagar except for public broadcaster Doordarshan. Officials who attended the ceremony told ThePrint that the event was “pleasant” and the transition was smooth.

The J&K administration said in a statement that the ceremony was attended by BJP leader Nirmal Singh, former deputy CM and speaker of the dissolved J&K assembly. Other guests included advisers, Lt Gen. K.J.S. Dhillon, commander of the Army’s 15 Corps, judges of the high court, as well as senior officials of the J&K Police and paramilitary forces.

The statement also mentioned BJP MP from Jammu, Jugal Kishore, but didn’t mention a Rajya Sabha MP of the Peoples Democratic Party who also attended — Nazir Laway.

Speaking to ThePrint, Laway said they had attended the event in official capacity.

“I was invited as a Rajya Sabha MP. We had tea there. Neither did we speak to anyone, nor did anyone speak to us,” he said, adding that he would fight for the return of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir’s — something that Union Home Minister Amit Shah has already said will happen at a future date.

Also read: J&K and Ladakh become union territories today — this is what changes on ground

An earlier version of the report said PDP MP Fayaz Wani was also in attendance at the oath ceremony, but he wasn’t. The error is regretted.

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