As of early Thursday, India lost one state and gained two federal territories as part of the government’s effort to take control of years of insurgency.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi split the Himalayan state of Jammu and Kashmir into two territories to be ruled directly by New Delhi.
One will be Jammu and Kashmir, which will include the restive Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley and the Hindu-majority Jammu. The second territory will include the high-altitude Buddhist enclave of Ladakh.
The split comes just months after Modi’s Hindu nationalist government stripped the former state of its semiautonomous status. Modi has defended the move, saying the special status had impeded the region’s progress, had given rise to terrorism and was used as a weapon by rival Pakistan to “instigate some people.”
India has long accused Pakistan of supporting and training militants to foment a separatist insurgency in Kashmir, charges Islamabad denies.
Modi won praise in several quarters for taking the bold, decisive step that they say in the long run may address the alienation in Kashmir and integrate it with the rest of the country. Critics, however, fear that it will deepen anti-India sentiment and could fuel insurgency among people worried about opening up the region to the rest of the country.