India's state of Jammu and Kashmir ceased to exist and two new federally administered territories were born. Indian President Ram Nath Kovind has issued identical decrees and took over all functions of both the union territories.
"…assume to myself as President of India all functions of the Government of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and all powers vested in or exercisable by the Lieutenant Governor of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir; (b) declare that the powers of the Legislature or Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament", reads the notification relating to the territory of Jammu and Kashmir issued today.
New Delhi has also appointed the constitutional representatives of the president in both territories. Radha Krishna Mathur, a former bureaucrat was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh today while another former bureaucrat, Girish Chandra Murmu, will take the oath later today in Srinagar.
Paying tribute to the first Home Minister of India Sardar Vallabhai Patel on the 144th anniversary of his birth at the “Statue of Unity” in western Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, the “New arrangements in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are not to draw ridges on the ground, but to build a strong link of faith. This is the belief that Sardar Patel also wished for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh".
Pakistan, which claims the whole of Kashmir, has condemned the move. China also slammed India for unilaterally changing its status.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Kashmir was a dispute left from history and it should be peacefully resolved.
The Indian government officially announced the establishment of so called Jammu Kashmir territory and Ladakh Union territory which included some of China’s territory into its administrative jurisdiction," Geng said at a news briefing.
"China deplores and firmly opposed that. India unilaterally changes its domestic law and administrative divisions, challenging China’s sovereignty and interests. This is awful and void, and this is not effective in any way and will not change the fact that the area is under China’s actual control," Reuters cited the spokesman as saying.
On August 5, India abrogated Articles 370 and 35A, "temporary" provisions in the Constitution to strip the restive state of Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and divided it into two federally administered territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Director of the MGIMO's Center for East Asian and SCO Studies Alexander Lukin, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, in the first place recalled the history of Kashmir. "Before the formation of modern India, Kashmir was a principality where the Muslim dynasty ruled, and the majority of the population professed Islam. When they divided the lands between India and Pakistan, as a result of several wars, the territory of this former principality was divided into three parts: part under Indian control, part under Pakistan’s control and the mountainous part under Chinese control. As a result, Pakistan considers these lands an independent state, while India had a Jammu and Kashmir state, which enjoyed great autonomy," he said.
"A number of special laws were in force in Jammu and Kashmir, for example, residents of other states were not allowed to buy land there. Even now most of the people there are Muslims. Now Kashmir has been connected to Ladakh, where mostly Buddhists live. The logic is to eliminate this autonomy, to allow non-Muslims to settle in Kashmir. This was also demanded by the residents of Ladakh, who protested that their rights were not respected," the expert noted.
"The Jammu and Kashmir reform of was one of Narendra Modi's campaign promises," the director of the MGIMO's Center for East Asian and SCO Studies recalled.
According to him, Pakistan will respond with additional weapons of Kashmir independence fighters. "Nothing has changed for the local population's movement, which advocates the separation of Kashmir from India. There is still no border there, only a demarcation line with Pakistan. Pakistan, of course, expresses its discontent and anger, but is unlikely to exacerbate the conflict further," Alexander Lukin concluded.