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Kashmir

By:
Tahir Amin, Victoria Schofield
Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World What is This? Provides comprehensive scholarly coverage of the full geographical and historical extent of Islam

Kashmir

The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been a disputed territory between India and Pakistan since the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. Situated in the extreme northwest corner of the South Asian subcontinent, it was one of the largest and most populous princely states of British India, sharing borders with India, Pakistan, and China. The undivided state of Jammu and Kashmir had an area of 84,471 square miles (135,913 square kilometers) and comprised several distinct regions: the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu, Ladakh, Poonch, Baltistan, and Gilgit. The inhabitants are a mixture of different ethnic groups—Aryan, Mongol, Turkish, and Afghan. According to the pre-independence 1941 census, the total population was 4,021,616; of these 77 percent were Muslims, 20 percent were Hindus, and 3 percent were Sikhs and other minorities. According to the 1981 Indian census, by which time the state had been divided on the ground between India and Pakistan, the total population of the Indian-administered part of the state was 5,987,389; 64.2 percent of whom were Muslims, 32.25 percent Hindus, 2.23 percent Sikhs, and the remainder Buddhists, Christians, and Jains. By 2001 the population had almost doubled to over 10 million.

Early History.

The early history of the valley of Kashmir was characterized by clashes between Buddhists and Brahmans, as rulers belonging to one or the other religion persecuted their adversaries. Islam entered Kashmir in the fourteenth century. Rinchan, a Buddhist ruler of Kashmir, embraced Islam in 1320 under the guidance of Sayyid Bilāl Shāh (also known as Bulbūl Shāh), a widely travelled Musavī sayyid from Turkistan. Islam consolidated its hold during Shāh Mir's reign (1339–1344). A large number of Muslim ʿulamāʿ came from Central Asia to Kashmir to preach; Sayyid Bilāl Shāh, Sayyid Jalāluddīn of Bukhara, Sayyid Tajuddīn, his brother Sayyid Ḥusayn Sīmānī, Sayyid ʿAlī Ḥamadānī, his son Mir Muḥammad Hamadānī, and Shaykh Nūruddīn are some of the well-known ʿulamāʿ who played a significant role in spreading Islam.

The contribution of Sayyid ʿAlī Hamadānī, popularly known as Shah-yi Hamadān, is legendary. Born at Hamadān (Iran) in 1314 and belonging to the Kubrawīyah order of Ṣūfīs, a branch of the Suhrawardīyah, he paid three visits to Kashmir in 1372, 1379, and 1383; together with several hundred followers, he converted thousands of Kashmiris to Islam. His son Sayyid Muḥammad

Hamadānī continued his work, vigorously propagating Islam as well as influencing the Muslim ruler Sikander (1389–1413) to enforce Islamic law and to establish the office of the Shaykh al-Islām (chief religious authority). By the end of the fifteenth century, the majority of the people had embraced Islam. Muslim rule in Kashmir lasted for five centuries from 1320 to 1819, including the periods of the independent sultans (1320–1586), the Mughals (1586–1753), and the Afghans (1753–1819).

Sikh and Dogra Rule.

In 1819 the valley of Kashmir was conquered by Ranjit Singh, the Sikh ruler of the Punjab, who retained control of the region until 1846. However he had given the surrounding lands in fief, including Jammu, to a Dogra Hindu, Raja Gulab Singh. Following the first Anglo-Sikh war, in order to create a counter authority against the power of the Sikhs, the British sold Kashmir to Gulab Singh for seventy-five lakhs of rupees by the terms of the 1846 Treaty of Amritsar. Gulab Singh was elevated to the status of maharaja and the Dogras ruled the state of Jammu and Kashmir until 1947. During both Sikh and Dogra rule, heavy taxation, forced work without wages (begār), discriminatory laws, and rural indebtedness were widespread among the largely illiterate Muslim population.

In the twentieth century, two popular Islamic institutions—the Mir Waiz, the hereditary office belonging to Jāmiah Mosque of Srinagar (of the Hanafī school of jurisprudence), and the Shāfiʿī institution of Shāh Hamadān at Khānqāh-i Muhallā—played an important role in highlighting the socioeconomic grievances of the Muslims; with the rise of a more educated middle class, political consciousness also began to emerge. Choudhry Ghulam Abbas, a Muslim from Jammu, was active in reorganizing the Young Men 's Muslim Association; in Srinagar the Reading Room Party, comprising graduates from Aligarh Muslim University, rose to prominence. A more aggressive resistance was triggered in 1931 when a state functionary forbade the imam to deliver the khuṭbah (sermon) before the Friday prayer in the municipal park at Jammu. When Abdul Qadīr, a butler in the service of a European, protested against the injunctions in Srinagar, he was arrested. On July 13, 1931, twenty-two Kashmiri Muslim sympathizers were killed when the police opened fire on the mob protesting outside the jail; henceforward July 13 has been commemorated as “Martyrs Day.” On October 14, 1932, the All Jammu and Muslim Conference was formed under the leadership of Shaikh Abdullah. This organization became the principal vehicle for mobilizing the people against the maharaja 's oppressive regime and Abdullah became renowned as the lion of Kashmir.”

In the 1930s, events in Kashmir also came under the influence of the politics in the subcontinent, where the All-India National Congress Party was demanding an end to British rule. However, against the Congress Party 's contention that, despite its communal divisions, India was one nation, the All-India Muslim League, formed in 1906 and led by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, put forward the “two nation theory”: that there existed two major nations in the subcontinent, Hindus and Muslims, which differed from each other both ideologically and culturally. In 1940, Jinnah 's “Pakistan declaration” demanded a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent (to be called Pakistan). A split also occurred among the Kashmiri Muslims when, through his friendship with the Indian nationalist politician Jawaharlal Nehru, Shaikh Abdullah supported a secular approach and renamed the Muslim Conference the National Conference. Although the Mir Waiz, Muḥammed Yūsuf Shāh, had originally supported Shaikh Abdullah, differences of opinion led to a rift. In October 1941, Choudhry Ghulam Abbas, together with Mir Waiz Yūsuf Shāh, revived the Muslim Conference, which passed a resolution, stating that Jammu and Kashmir should become part of Pakistan. See ALL-INDIA MUSLIM LEAGUE.

Independence and Accession.

On the eve of partition in 1947 there were three main political forces in Kashmir: the National Conference, the Muslim Conference, and the Dogra dynasty. The National Conference, led by Shaikh Abdullah, had maintained its close relationship with the Congress Party; the Muslim Conference led by Choudhry Ghulam Abbas continued its support of the state 's accession to Pakistan. The Maharaja Hari Singh preferred to remain as an independent ruler: although there was a majority Muslim population, as a Dogra Hindu, he did not support the two-nation theory. As an autocratic ruler, he was also opposed to the democratic principles espoused by the Indian National Congress Party. Pending a decision, in order to maintain communication and supplies, at independence, he signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan (although the Indian government did not wish to do so). In the emotionally charged atmosphere, communal killings in Jammu and Poonch led to strained relations between Pakistan and the state government in Kashmir, which accused Pakistan of inciting the Muslims in the state and also with establishing an economic blockade to force accession. The Pakistanis were further alarmed by the overtures made by the Indian leaders to the maharaja and the improvements of the road linking India to Kashmir through Pathankot. Just before independence, Pandit Ram Chandra Kak (who had agreed to the standstill agreement with Pakistan and favored the state remaining independent) was replaced as prime minister by a retired army officer, Mehr Chand (who favored the state 's accession to India). At the same time, Shaikh Abdullah, who had been imprisoned for his political agitation against the Dogra regime, was released from jail. These events convinced the Pakistanis that, despite the state 's Muslim majority, the maharaja would eventually be maneuvered into acceding to India. In October 1947, inflamed by stories of atrocities against Muslims in Kashmir, hundreds of Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan 's North-West Frontier province entered the state to help their coreligionists.

On the suggestion of India 's governor-general, Lord Mountbatten, who feared an inter-Dominion war involving British officers on opposing sides, the maharaja agreed to accede to India in return for military assistance. Mountbatten 's proposal, however, was for the accession to be temporary, pending the holding of a “plebiscite, referendum or election” to ascertain the wishes of the people of Kashmir. On October 27, 1947, India airlifted troops to Kashmir; subsequently, the government made a formal complaint to the United Nations, charging Pakistan with aggression against the territory that had legally become part of India. Pakistan challenged the legality of the accession on the grounds that, having fled from the scene, the maharaja no longer had the authority to sign the instrument of accession. To this day, whether the maharaja signed the instrument of accession on October 26, as the Indian government maintained, before the arrival of Indian troops, is contested. In 1949, under the authority of the United Nations, a ceasefire was agreed between the opposing forces of the Indian Army and those of the Pakistan Army, which had officially entered the war in May 1948. It was further agreed that the two governments would work toward creating the conditions necessary for a plebiscite to be held. Over the years, several attempts by the United Nations, Anglo-American talks in 1962–1963, and bilateral discussions between India and Pakistan have failed to resolve the dispute and the plebiscite has never been held. Further hostilities occurred in 1965 when Pakistan launched an offensive into the valley and in 1999 when Pakistani troops occupied the Kargil heights. After the 1971 war, when East Pakistan seceded to become independent Bangladesh, according to the terms of the Simla (Shimla) agreement, India and Pakistan agreed “to refrain from threat or the use of force in violation” of the ceasefire line in Kashmir, which was renamed the “line of control.” However, the line was only ever demarcated as far as point NJ9842, which stopped short of the Siachen Glacier. In 1984, in a preemptive bid, the Indian government airlifted troops to the glacier, which, at 22,000 feet, is now the world 's highest war zone. In the late 1950s the Chinese had also occupied the Aksai Chin, an uninhabited region in the northeast of Kashmir.

After 1947, India continued to maintain its legitimacy by relying on the popularity which Shaikh Abdullah enjoyed among the Kashmiri people. In 1952 Abdullah announced an agreement with Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru which confirmed Jammu and Kashmir 's “special status” as a semi-autonomous state within the Indian Union. However, Abdullah 's own controversial statements regarding Kashmir 's future, including appearing to favor the state 's independence, resulted in his arrest in 1953. Exiled from the state, he did not return to active politics until 1972. By the terms of his accord with Indira Gandhi in 1975, he re-emerged as chief minister, handing power over to his son, Farooq, in 1981. He died in 1982. In the intervening period, pliant governments supported by India had compromised on the issue of autonomy and on the plebiscite.

The origins of the current insurgency in Kashmir relate to latent frustration among the population. Despite Indian promises to the Kashmiri people and the UN that a plebiscite would be held, the Indian government never allowed the Kashmiris to exercise their right of self-determination. Although the Indian government maintained that the Kashmiri people had endorsed their desire to remain within the Indian Union by participating in the state assembly elections, the UN asserted that elections held under Indian control were not a substitute for a free and impartial plebiscite. By the late 1980s, the absence of genuine political participation had led to general alienation. Economically, Kashmir remained a hinterland with little infrastructural development and a subsidy economy dependent on external funding. By contrast, expansion of educational facilities had increased the number of unemployed graduates, whose joblessness exacerbated their political dissatisfaction. Culturally, a growing emphasis on secularism generated a backlash, contributing to the popularity of Islamic political parties, especially the Jamāʿat-i Islāmī (established in 1953) and the Islāmī Jamʿīyat-i T‥ulabā, its allied student body. [SeeJAMāʿAT-I ISLāMī.

The Insurgency.

The current phase of resistance against Indian rule began in 1987 when an alliance of several Islamic parties, the Muslim United Front (MUF), was expected to win several important seats in the state assembly elections but failed to win more than four seats, allegedly because of massive rigging. These elections proved the catalyst for a new phase of armed struggle against Indian rule. Although the Indian government alleged that the Kashmiri struggle was instigated by Pakistan, its original impetus was indigenous because of genuine grievances; Pakistan has consistently maintained that its help was only diplomatic and moral. Since then, however, the porous border between Indian-administered and Pakistani-administered Kashmir has enabled militants to move back and forward with relative impunity.

The Kashmiri insurgents are divided into two major factions. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), whose objective remains an independent Kashmir, was established in 1965 under the leadership of Maqbool Butt, and has split into factions. In Pakistan the JKLF is headed by veteran nationalist Amanullah Khan; in the valley of Kashmir, the most prominent leader is Yasin Malik, who was one of the first to renounce militancy in 1994 in preference for peaceful protest. The Ḥizbul Mujāhidīn, founded in 1989 as the militant wing of the Jamāʿat-i Islāmī, seeks accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan. In 1993 the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) was formed comprising numerous political parties, some of whom supported independence of the state, others who supported its accession to Pakistan. Initially, most political parties had a militant wing, but they have since realized that although “the gun took the issue out of cold storage ”, resolution of the conflict will only come through negotiations. However, no political party belonging to the APHC has contested state elections because they are not prepared to acknowledge that Kashmir is an integral part of the Indian Union.

The Indian government responded to the insurgency with intense militarization of the state, employing both the Indian Army and the Border Security Forces (BSF), resulting in widespread suffering of the Kashmiri people caught in the crossfire of conflicting objectives. Human rights abuses by both the military and the militants have been documented in detail by Indian human rights groups as well as such international groups as Amnesty International, Asia Watch, and Physicians for Human Rights.

In 2004, after a stand-off in relations between India and Pakistan, a “peace process” was initiated which involved resolving all outstanding issues including Kashmir. In 2005, for the first time since 1947, the de facto border (the Line of Control) was opened, permitting a limited bus service to operate for the inhabitants of the state. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf also offered an alternative to the plebiscite, even announcing that Pakistan would renounce its claim on Kashmir provided India would agree to a four-point plan giving the region autonomy or self-governance. However, there has been no change in the status of Jammu and Kashmir, which remains divided along the Line of Control first instituted as a ceasefire line in 1948. A key figure in the twenty-first-century movement is the Mir Waiz Umar Farooq, whose father was assassinated in the early days of the insurgency in 1990, and whose great-uncle was Mir Waiz Muḥammed Yūsuf Shāh. After losing in the 2002 state elections, Farooq Abdullah handed leadership of the National Conference to his son Omar, grandson of Sheikh Abdullah. By 2007 the insurgency had resulted in the loss of an estimated seventy thousand lives.

Bibliography

  • Bamzai, P. N. K.A History of Kashmir. 2d rev. ed.New Delhi, 1973. Useful but somewhat biased account of the political, economic, and social history of Kashmir.
  • Bazaz, Prem Nath. The History of Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir. Reprint. Islamabad, 1976. Personalized but insightful account of the contemporary history of Kashmir.
  • Bose, Sumantra. The Challenge in Kashmir: Democracy, Self-determination, and a Just Peace. New Delhi and Thousand Oaks, Calif., 1997. A good account of the challenges faced by India, Pakistan, and the Kashmiris, written by an Indian.
  • Brecher, Michael. The Struggle for Kashmir. Toronto, 1953. Excellent study of the origins of the Kashmir dispute during the partition of the subcontinent.
  • Ganguly, Šumit. The Crisis in Kashmir: Portents of War, Hopes of Peace. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1997. An interesting account of the dispute from an Indian perspective.
  • Gupta, Sisir. Kashmir: A Study in India-Pakistan Relations. Bombay, 1967. Relatively sophisticated Indian perspective on the Kashmir dispute.
  • Kashmir Study Group. Kashmir: A Way Forward—February 2005; Kashmir: A Way Forward—February 2000; The Kashmir Dispute at Fifty, 1947–1997. Larchmont, N.Y., 1997–2005. An excellent series of studies on Kashmir examining all aspects of the dispute.
  • Korbel, Josef. Danger in Kashmir. Princeton, N.J., 1954. Reprint. Karachi, 2002. Excellent account of UN involvement in the Kashmir dispute.
  • Lakhanpal, Puran L., ed.Essential Documents and Notes on Kashmir Dispute. 2d rev. ed.Delhi, 1965. Useful collection of important documents on Kashmir.
  • Lamb, Alastair. Crisis in Kashmir, 1947–1966. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966. Brief account of the origins of the Kashmir dispute and the 1965 war.
  • Lamb, Alastair. Kashmir: A Disputed Legacy, 1846–1990. Hertfordshire, U.K., 1991. An authoritative account of the Kashmir dispute.
  • Parmu, R. K.A History of Muslim Rule in Kashmir, 1320–1819. New Delhi, 1969. Contains an excellent account of the spread of Islam in Kashmir.
  • Saraf, Muhammad Yusuf. Kashmiris Fight for Freedom. 2 vols.Lahore, 1977. Detailed and in-depth study of the modern history of Kashmir, including personal recollections from a Pakistani perspective.
  • Schofield, Victoria. Kashmir in Conflict. New ed.London and New York, 2003. Revised contemporary history of the dispute, following further field research in the region.
  • Schofield, Victoria. Kashmir in the Crossfire. London and New York, 1996. Comprehensive history of the dispute between India and Pakistan, including the perspective of all the inhabitants of the state based on numerous interviews in the region and detailed research.
  • Singh, Tavleen. Kashmir: Tragedy of Errors. Delhi and New York, 1995. A firsthand account from an Indian perspective highlighting some of the errors committed by the Indian government in relation to Kashmir.
  • Sūfī, Ghulām Muhyiʿd Dīn. Kashmir. 2 vols. Lahore, 1949. Comprehensive and monumental history of Kashmir from the earliest times.
  • Suharawardy, Abdul Haq. Tragedy in Kashmir. Lahore, 1983. Good account of the origin and evolution of the Kashmir dispute from a Pakistani perspective.
  • Thomas, Raju G. C.Perspectives on Kashmir: The Roots of Conflict in South Asia. Boulder, 1992. Combines Indian, Pakistani, and Kashmiri perspectives on the Kashmir dispute.
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