The state of Jammu and Kashmir has transitioned into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh today, on the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the freedom movement leader who persuaded 562 princely states to accede to newly-independent India. The process of transition begins with the swearing-in of the two newly-appointed Lieutenant-Governors in Srinagar and Leh. Former Defence Secretary RK Mathur was sworn-in as the first Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory of Ladakh earlier this morning. IAS officers Girish Chandra Murmu will be appointed as Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir later today.
The bifurcation of the state into Union Territories comes into effect two months after the special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the constitution was removed by an order from President Ram Nath Kovind. Article 370 gave Kashmir its own constitution and restricted the centre's powers to deciding matters of defence, communications and external affairs. For any other area, the centre had to get the state legislature's approval.
Here's a look at how Jammu and Kashmir for special status through Article 370:
In 1947, Hari Singh, who was the last ruling Maharaja of princely state Jammu and Kashmir, acceded to India after signing the "Instrument of Accession" on October 26.
Hari Singh, who was the Hindu king of a Muslim-majority state, had initially wanted to stay independent, but decided to go with India after Pakistani army regulars and tribesmen invaded the state and India agreed to help if he acceded.
Per the "Instrument of Accession", only defence, external affairs and communications were handed over to the government of India. These conditions were peculiar to Jammu and Kashmir's accession to India, unlike the other 565 princely states that had chosen to integrate fully with India.
At that time, Sheikh Abdullah, the founder of state political party National Conference, had supported Jammu and Kashmir's accession to India. Sheikh Abdullah believed that Kashmiris had a better future in a secular, democratic India rather than an Islamic state like Pakistan.
In 1949, Hari Singh appointed Sheikh Abdullah as the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, who in turn joined the Indian Constituent Assembly to negotiate a special status for the state. This is how Article 370 was born and underlined Jammu and Kashmir's autonomy within India.
By 1953, however, the relationship between Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the state government led by Sheikh Abdullah turned sour, leading to Mr Abdullah's dismissal and arrest.
Over the next few decades, Article 370 was slowly eroded by New Delhi, with more and more central laws becoming applicable to the state.
The next turning point in Jammu and Kashmir's history was the Indira-Sheikh accord in 1974 between former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah. This accord made Sheikh Abdullah the chief minister of the state after years of estrangement from mainstream politics.
The politics of Jammu and Kashmir since then has been dominated by the National Conference, the Congress and later Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's Peoples Democratic Party or PDP.
The BJP-PDP alliance of 2014 marked another milestone in Jammu and Kashmir's history. After the BJP pulled out of its coalition government with the PDP in 2018, the President's rule was applied in the state.
In August this year, Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was revoked by the government of India, making Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh two separate union territories of the country. India will now have 28 states and 9 Union Territories.