Jammu and Kashmir is in the midst of a seismic political shift after New Delhi announced it was stripping the state of its autonomy and splitting it into two centrally administered territories.
(RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)
It's been almost a month since the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the disputed Himalayan region of Jammu and Kashmir of its nearly 70-year-old constitutional autonomy. The decision has since sparked both jubilation and outrage across India's diverse political spectrum, as well as weeks of protests in Kashmir. For the state's former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, the Aug. 5 announcement amounted to "the darkest day in Indian democracy." But to Modi's supporters, it advanced the long-cherished objective of absorbing the territory into the union.
Modi is keenly aware of the dangers his decision gives rise to, including risks of a more violent insurgency in the region and of worsened relations with Pakistan. But for the recently reelected prime minister and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the benefits of advancing India's territorial unity outweigh the risks -- especially amid shifting power dynamics in South Asia....