Brief: India Strengthens Its Grip in Peripheral Regions

Under the changes, any Indian, not just permanent residents, can purchase land in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

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Background: One of India’s strategic challenges is that it governs a large area with extremely diverse inhabitants. The current government has tried to meet this challenge by implementing measures aimed at centralizing administrative and economic power. Peripheral regions like Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in the distant northwest are particularly worrisome for New Delhi, as neighboring Pakistan and China contest India’s control over the regions as well as their territorial boundaries. What Happened: India’s Ministry of Home Affairs changed a series of land laws that affect property ownership in Jammu and Kashmir as well as Ladakh. Under the changes, any Indian, not just permanent residents, can purchase land in the territories. This builds on August 2019’s changes, when the government repealed Article 370 and Article 35-A of the constitution, essentially giving the central government more control in the region. The changes require states and so-called union territories to establish real estate regulators and provide rules under which these regulators must operate. They also give the army the power to declare strategic land for operational and training purposes in the area. Longtime residents of Kashmir oppose the changes, saying they were done without coordination with the local population and that they […]

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