India Formally Divides Occupied Jammu & Kashmir State Amid Harsh Security Lockdown

India has formally divided the occupied  state of Jammu and Kashmir into two new federally-administered territories.

In the new arrangement, Jammu and Kashmir is one territory, and Ladakh, which borders China, is separate.

The two new union territories are now ruled directly from the capital Delhi.

The third region, the newly created union territory of Ladakh, is a high-altitude desert inhabited by 300,000 people, with almost equal numbers of Muslims and Buddhists.

Workers from the previous state government will continue to retain their jobs in the new territories, the government said.

Street protests against the measures have erupted sporadically, while a dozen people have been killed in recent weeks.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government withdrew occupied Kashmir’s autonomy in August but in addition, it also announced its division into two territories to be directly ruled from New Delhi — one consisting of Jammu and Kashmir and the other the remote Buddhist enclave of Ladakh.

At the same time, it poured thousands of more troops into the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley where Kashmiris have been fighting against Indian rule for decades, and made sweeping arrests to prevent any outbreak of violence.

Almost 98% of the state’s population will be in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, comprising two regions – the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, which has about eight million people, and the Hindu-majority Jammu, which has about six million.

On the ground, the reorganisation will significantly dilute the ability of Jammu and Kashmir representatives to govern their own affairs by making 106 federal laws applicable to the region, including the Indian Penal Code.

The Jammu and Kashmir assembly will not be able to make laws on policing and public order, effectively ceding control of the entire security apparatus to New Delhi.

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