JAMMU: As the Jammu and Kashmir state was formally bifurcated into two union territories on Thursday, people in Jammu region largely welcomed the transition and some of them even said they hoped to look towards an end to an "era of discrimination" under the new setup.
But there were also who protested against the decision to withdraw the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and downgrading of its status to a Union Territory.
JKNPP activists led by its chairman and former minister Harsh Dev Singh held a massive rally at the Exhibition Ground.
For most people, the emotional satisfaction of the end of the Kashmir-centric rule weighed heavy, despite the downgrading of the erstwhile status of a state.
In Jammu city, people burst crackers, beat drums and took out celebratory rallies in Talab Tilloo, Dogra Hall, Trikuta Nagar, Muthi, Janipur and old city areas.
"We are very happy for reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir state into UTs. Although we wanted a separate Jammu state, still we are very happy to get a UT to end the era of discrimination by Kashmir-centric rulers," Jammu University student Vikas Sharma said.
He hoped it would be the beginning of a new era of peace, progress and prosperity, when investments, industries and employment will increase and politics of separatism and terrorism will end.
Like him, ex-serviceman Pratap Singh Jamwal said people of Jammu are happy even though the status was demoted from a state carved out by Dogra rulers.
"We hope the new dispensation will do justice to the region and ensure end of the rule of supremacy of Kashmir region over Jammu people," he said.
Another resident, Sardar Santok Singh, expressed reservation over the downgrading of state to UT, but said direct governance under the Centre will ensure that money sent is spent properly and security issues are addressed without compromise, to stamp out terrorism and separatism.
"We will have now large investment. Big industries will come. Children will have more opportunity, jobs. The work culture will change and corruption will end", Singh said.
Kuldeep Kumar, a driver by profession, said it is a time for celebration as Jammu will grow faster and there will be more development.
"If you have a spoiled child, you have to punish him to bring him on the line. The Centre did that," Kumar said.
Not everyone was amused by the decision, however.
Calling the decision to downgrade the status of JK "authoritarian and perverse", the protesters at the Exhibition Ground raised the slogans: "Tanashahi nahi chalegi", "Hitler raj nahi chalega", "Lt.Governor go back, and 'State ka darja bahal karo".
JKNPP's Harsh Dev Singh described October 31 as a 'Black Day' when the 200-year-old Dogra state was converted into two Union territories.
He said the government move amounted to a "cruel joke" and dishonoured the decision of Maharaja Hari Sigh, the Dogra ruler of the erstwhile state.
Saleem Choudhary, a resident of Bhatindi area, too opposed the decision to downgrade the state to a UT and said, "We have lost our identity as well as we got demoted."
"We will see whether this decision is a landmark success or a great blunder. Time will only tell us," he said.
Stepping into the record books, G C Murmu was sworn in as the first LG of Jammu and Kashmir, and R K Mathur of Ladakh.
Mathur took oath in Leh and Murmu in Srinagar.
The UTs have been carved out in accordance with the government's August 5 decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcate it into two UTs.