History of Jammu and Kashmir

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Jammu and Kashmir is a multi-lingual, multi-religious and multiracial State and each group has its own distinct and peculiar cultural ethos further deepened by geographical divisions created by formidable mountain ranges. The Jammu region is dominantly Hindu with Muslims being in the majority in certain areas. Most of the people speak Dogri.

In the mountains, there are three distinct communities with traits of their own viz. Gujjars, Bakerwals and Gaddis, who speak the Pahari Language. The Kashmir Valley presents a heterogeneous population with two broad divisions i.e. Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits, both of whom speak Kashmiri, The people of Ladakh are believed to be descendants of a blended race of the Mons of North India, the Dards of Baltistan and the Mongols of Central Asia. Majority of the population is Buddhist. The Northern area occupied by Pakistan is inhabited by different races like Mongols, Tadjik, Kirghiz, Uygur, Yagis and others. The Muslim population is almost equally divided into three sects i.e. Sunni, Shia (Jaffaria) and Shia (Ismailis). Sectarian violence is a common feature in the area because of Pakistan's official patronage of the minority Sunni community. The southern portion of POK, where the majority of people are concentrated (about 19 lakhs), the common language is Dogri or Punjabi.

Gilgit, Ladakh, Kashmir and Jammu have seen the rise and fall of several kingdoms. For much of their history these areas existed as principalities. A few Kashmiri rulers like Lalitaditya and Awamivarman had their empire extending from Bengal in the east, the Konkan in the south, Turkistan in north-west and Tibet in the north. Kashmir passed into the hands of Muslims rulers in 1324.

The most notable Muslim rulers of Kashmir were Zain-ul-Abedin and Yusuf Shah Chak. The Mogul emperor Akbar conquered Kashmir in 1587, but, Aurangzeb's successor was a weak ruler and in 1752 Kashmir was seized by the Afghan ruler Ahmed Shah Abdali. His reign is remembered as one of the most terrible in Kashmir's entire history. In 1819, the Sikh ruler of Punjab Maharaja Ranjit Singh evicted the Pathans from Kashmir with the help of the Dogra Army of Jammu. The Sikhs ruled Kashmir till their defeat by the British.

Thereafter, Maharaja Gulab Singh of Jammu paid Rs. 75 lakhs to the East India Company in 1846 in exchange for Kashmir and some other areas under the 'Treaty of Amritsar'. Jammu and Kashmir as a single entity was unified and founded by Maharaja Gulab Singh on March 16,1846. Zorawar Singh, a General in the Dogra Anny later led his dare-devil campaigns in northern areas like Ladakh, Baltistan, Gilgit, Hunza and Yagistan, consolidating smaller principalities and making the northern areas a part of the expanding the dominions of Maharaja Gulab Singh.

In the news

A history of Jammu and Kashmir Aug 18th, 2008 by Sindh Today

Srinagar, Aug 18 (IANS) Here is a brief look at the history of Jammu and Kashmir, known for its syncretic culture where diverse faiths have prospered in peace:

  • Historically, in ancient times, Kashmir was a seat of Sanskrit and Buddhist learning.
  • In the 14th century, Islam became the dominant religion in Kashmir. Sufism complemented the Rishi tradition of Kashmiri Pandits, leading to a syncretic culture.
  • Akbar invaded Kashmir in 1588 and the region came under Mughal rule.
  • In the early 19th century, Sikhs took control of Kashmir. Maharaja Ranjit Singh had earlier annexed Jammu.
  • In 1846, after the partial defeat of the Sikhs in the First Anglo Sikh War, Kashmir was given to Gulab Singh for Rs.75 lakh (Rs.7.5 million).
  • After the Revolt of 1857, the kingdom came under the British Crown. Gulab’s son, Ranbir Singh, became the ruler.
  • In 1925 Hari Singh, Ranbir’s grandson, ascended the throne.
  • Kashmir’s first political party, the Muslim Conference, was formed in 1925, with Sheikh Abdullah as president. It was renamed as National Conference in 1938.
  • In August 1947, India and Pakistan agreed that rulers of Princely states would be given the right to opt for either nation. To put off a decision, Maharaja Hari Singh signed a ’standstill’ agreement with Pakistan to ensure that trade, travel and communication continue.
  • Pashtun raiders from Pakistan invade Kashmir in October 1947. Hari Singh appealed to governor general Mountbatten for assistance. India assured help on condition Hari Singh signs Instrument of Accession. He did and Indian troops repulsed the assault from most of Kashmir. The UN, invited to mediate, insisted that the opinion of Kashmiris should be ascertained. India initially said no to referendum but Nehru later agreed to a poll. Pakistan contested accession claiming the Indian Army illegally entered Kashmir.
  • On Jan 1, 1948 India declared a unilateral ceasefire. Under Article 35 of the UN Charter, India filed a complaint with the UN Security Council.
  • Security Council established a commission Jan 20, 1948 and adopted a resolution on Kashmir accepted by both countries. Pakistan was blamed for invading Kashmir and instructed to withdraw its forces. A year later UN passes resolution calling for plebiscite.
  • Sheikh Abdullah became the prime minister on Jammu and Kashmir March 17, 1948.
  • On Jan 1, 1949 India and Pakistan formally concluded a ceasefire.
  • Article 370, granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was inserted in the constitution in 1949.
  • In 1953, Sheikh Abdullah was arrested and imprisoned. He was accused of conspiracy against the state in the Kashmir Conspiracy Case.
  • In 1965, Pakistan attacked India. Following Pakistan’s defeat, the Tashkent Agreement was signed.
  • In 1972, India and Pakistan signed the Shimla agreement, promising to respect Line of Control until Kashmir issue is resolved.
  • In 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Abdullah signed an accord. Jammu and Kashmir is made a constituent unit of India. Abdullah became chief minister.
  • Allegations of rigging surfaced during state elections in the 1980s.
  • In 1987, street protests and demonstrations in Srinagar against corruption and inefficiency turned into anti-India protests.
  • Armed militancy erupted in 1989. Kashmiri Pandits flee. State brought under Central rule.
  • Since 1989, armed militants and international jehadi elements stalk the valley. Elections in 1996 and 2002, especially the latter, bring back some semblance of democratic process but violence continues.