At the stroke of midnight between Wednesday (30 October) and Thursday, the 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 on Thursday.
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 on Thursday while another former bureaucrat, Girish Chandra Murmu, will take the oath later on Thursday 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".
The northern state of Jammu and Kashmir has been the scene of separatist violence for the last three decades, thousands of people – security forces, civilians, and secessionists have been killed. The Kashmir Valley has also witnessed the migration of Hindus, forced out by militants.
Kashmir has been at the heart of a dispute between India and its western neighbour Pakistan since both countries gained freedom from British colonial rule in 1947. Both nations administer parts of Kashmir, while claiming the whole region as theirs. New Delhi and Islamabad have also fought three wars – two on Kashmir and a third for the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.