views updated May 23 2018


KASHMIR Since the partition of India in 1947, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has remained a bone of contention between India and Pakistan, provoking three wars between the two countries. In 1989 a secessionist movement, supported by Pakistan, arose in the Valley of Kashmir, demanding freedom from India. The two countries hold irreconcilable positions on Kashmir. For Pakistan, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory, and its future should be determined through a plebiscite in conformity with a United Nations Security Council resolution; India considers the state an integral part of its territory. India builds its case on the legal accession of Jammu and Kashmir and on subsequent elections through which the people of Kashmir created their own constitution and their own successive civil governments.

Historical Background

The state of Jammu and Kashmir, with its three distinct regions of the Valley of Kashmir (predominantly Muslim and Kashmiri-speaking), Jammu (majority Dogri-speaking Hindus) and Ladakh (majority Ladakhi-speaking Buddhists), is a relatively recent political and geographical entity. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, these three regions existed separately. In March 1846, under the terms of the Treaty of Amritsar, the British transferred the territories of Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh to Jammu's Raja Ghulab Singh. This transfer was in return for a payment by the raja to the British of 7.5 million rupees. Because of Britain's trade interests in Central Asia and its concerns over Russian expansion, the Jammu and Kashmir state was quickly integrated into princely British India. Until the partition of India in 1947, the state of Jammu and Kashmir remained under the rule of the Hindu Dogra rulers. After the death of Raja Ghulab Singh in 1856, the state was ruled by Maharaja Ranbir Singh (1856–1885), Maharaja Pratap Singh (1885–1925), and Maharaja Hari Singh (1925–1947).

As a result of British interventions in the Dogra rule, various administrative, constitutional, and educational reforms were introduced, the major beneficiaries of which were the Hindus, both from Jammu and the valley. They directly benefited from a new state-subject ordinance (1927) that restricted government employment exclusively to citizens of the state. Kashmiri Muslims, who constituted the vast masses of uneducated and exploited peasantry, remained largely untouched by these reforms. Muslim grievances first found a voice in 1931 when the Muslim Conference of Kashmir, under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, launched a protest. In 1939 Abdullah was to transform the Muslim Conference into a mass-based secular, socialist nationalist movement against Dogra rule, called the National Conference. Sheikh Abdullah invoked the fourteenth-century Kashmiri historical and cultural concept of Kashmiriyat to unite both Hindus and Muslims in opposition to Dogra rule. This indigenous concept of Kashmiriyat, while not excluding the presence and influence of religion, emphasizes syncretism and tolerance for all Kashmiri religions, differentiating both Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims from their counterparts elsewhere. The National Conference ushered in a new ideological agenda, underlined in the New Kashmir Manifesto, seeking constitutional reforms, a bill of rights, a national economic plan for eradicating poverty land reforms, and the right to self-determination. In 1946 the National Conference launched a "Quit Kashmir" movement against Dogra rule and received complete support from the Indian National Congress and its leadership.

After the British granted independence to India and Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir was one of only three Princely States not to accede either India or Pakistan. In October 1947 the Pathan tribesmen of the North-West Frontier province of Pakistan invaded Kashmir. Unable to defend the state, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession dated 26 October 1947 and requested India's military assistance to free the state from that tribal invasion. In accepting the offer of accession under special circumstances, Governor-General Lord Mountbatten informed the maharaja that the question of accession should be settled by a referendum to the people, once law and order was restored in Kashmir and the invaders had been pushed out. India's Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru confirmed the conditional acceptance of Kashmir's accession to India. The Indian army succeeded in driving the tribal invaders from some two-thirds of the state, which has remained under Indian jurisdiction, with the other third staying under Pakistan's control. Sheikh Abdullah headed the Emergency Administration in the state from its accession until March 1948.

India's Complaint to the United Nations

On 1 January 1948, under Article 35 of the Charter of the United Nations, the government of India lodged a complaint to the Security Council against Pakistani "aggression" against the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The complaint explained the circumstances leading to Hari Singh's accession of Kashmir to India and provided evidence of Pakistan's involvement in aiding the tribal invaders, who were still occupying a substantial portion of the state's territory. In April 1948, the Security Council set up the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP). In the UNCIP Resolution of 13 August 1948, accepted by both India and Pakistan, both consented to a cease-fire, and to the withdrawal of Pakistani forces from the state of Jammu and Kashmir, to be followed by the withdrawal of the bulk of Indian forces in stages to be determined by the Commission. Part 3 of the resolution laid out a framework for a plebiscite in the state. Even though India's initial complaint of Pakistani aggression had been earlier verified as legitimate when UNCIP delegates, who had arrived in India in early July, observed that Pakistan had sent troops to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the 13 August resolution put Pakistan on a par with India. Both were asked to withdraw their troops, which amounted to denying any legality to the accession treaty between the maharaja of Kashmir and India, making Kashmir a disputed territory until a plebiscite was conducted under peaceful and fair conditions. Initially, irresolvable difficulties over procedural matters led to the nonimplementation of both the original UNCIP resolution of August 1948, and the extended resolution of 5 January 1949, which sought demilitarization and the appointment of a plebiscite administrator. In the early 1950s, the domestic situation in the valley, combined with Pakistan's military alliance with the United States, led India to abandon its prior agreement to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir.

In response to a Hindu nationalist movement in Jammu calling for full integration of the state into India, Sheikh Abdullah began to support the idea of an independent Kashmir. In the Jammu region—where a majority of the population were Dogra Hindus, emotionally attached to the Dogra Rajput dynasty—the Praja Parishad Party, strongly linked to the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), began agitating in 1952 for complete accession and full integration of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India. The movement received vocal support from the militant Indian Hindu party, Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS), and its leader Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. Though the movement lost momentum after Mookerjee's death in the Kashmir valley, its Hindu-chauvinistic demands made a powerful impact on Sheikh Abdullah's decision to call for a third option for the state: independence. In July 1953, the Working Committee of the National Conference, under the presidency of Abdullah, proposed four alternatives for the settlement of the Kashmir dispute: a plebiscite to choose among the three options of accession to India, accession to Pakistan, or independence; independence for the whole state; independence for the whole state with joint Indo-Pakistan control over foreign affairs; or the Dixon plan (partition of the state, with Jammu and Ladakh going to India, and independence for the Kashmir Valley). It is alleged that in a meeting with U.S. Senator Adlai Stevenson, the latter had encouraged the Kashmiri leader to repudiate accession to India and declare Kashmir independent. Although this report was repeatedly denied, Nehru became increasingly suspicious of U.S. intentions. On 9 August 1953, India arrested Abdullah and replaced him with Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad.

During 1954 and 1955, the United States signed three different military assistance agreements with Pakistan. In the absence of any resolution of the Kashmir problem, India viewed the U.S.–Pakistan military pacts as enhancing the military power of Pakistan, which could then be used against India. Although in February 1954, U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower tried to assure Prime Minister Nehru that the decision of the U.S. government to provide military assistance to Pakistan was not aimed against India, Nehru believed that U.S. support to Pakistan undermined the ability of the United Nations to realize a so-called impartial solution to the Kashmir problem.

Jammu and Kashmir's Constitutional Status within the Indian Federation

In January 1950 the Indian Constituent Assembly approved Article 370, outlining Jammu and Kashmir's political relationship with the Indian Union. Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was applied to the state under the "Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1950." This article, while restricting the central government's legislative power to the areas of foreign Affairs, defense, and communications, allowed the state government to legislate on all residuary issues. A subheading of this Article states that the constitutional provisions with respect to Jammu and Kashmir are temporary. At the time of the creation of the Indian Constitution, India remained firm on its offer of a plebiscite to the people of Kashmir. The Indian leadership, particularly Nehru, apparently had complete faith in the positive outcome of a plebiscite in Kashmir—an attitude that changed entirely in 1953. Article 370 also made provision for the revocation of the temporary constitutional arrangement.

In September 1951, elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly were held, and in November 1951, the assembly was convened. In July 1952 the leaders of Jammu and Kashmir and India entered into the "Delhi Agreement," which laid out the basic principles and framework within which the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly would proceed with its work. The seven components of this agreement related to the application of the provisions of the Constitution of India to citizenship, fundamental rights, the emergency powers of the Indian president, the division of powers between the state and the central government, the abolition of Dogra rule, the retention of the state flag, and the acceptance of Urdu as the official language of the state. The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir was proclaimed on 26 January 1957. Its special features included: provisions with regard to the citizenship of the people of Kashmir and their classification into a special category of "Permanent Residents"; the Directive Principles of State Policy, outlining the socialist agenda of the New Kashmir Manifesto of the National Conference Party; internal autonomy to the state in all powers except foreign affairs, defense, and communication; and a parliamentary system of government, with its elected head, Sadar-Riyasat, a Permanent Resident of the state. The constitution determined that the legislative assembly be composed of 100 members chosen through direct election, based on universal adult franchise. Out of these 100 seats, 25 were reserved for the territories of the state under the "occupation" of Pakistan.

The citizenship provisions in the new state constitution were closely guarded by the Kashmiri leadership so that nonresidents were disallowed to seek employment, to buy property, and to participate in elections. In the constitution, citizens of the state are defined as "all those people who were born and residing in the territories of the state, when it was founded by the Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1846, the people who settled in the state later but before 1885, the people who settled in the state under special permission before 1911, and the people who took permanent residence in the state and acquired immovable property under the 'Ijazat Nama Rules' before May 14, 1944" (Teng, Bhat, and Kaul, p. 210). Although in 1959, with the extension of the powers of the Election Commission of India to conduct and control elections in the state, a slow and steady integration of the state into the Indian union began, the state has remained protective of its citizenship requirements—an essential ingredient in strengthening the Kashmiri identity and maintaining its distinct status within the Indian federation.

The State's De Facto Integration within the Indian Union

The years 1957 to 1974 witnessed the extension of various entries in the Union and the Concurrent Lists of the Indian Constitution to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, with the approval of the state legislature. As all three governments in the state, under the respective leaderships of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, G. M. Sadiq, and Mir Kashim, existed with the approval of the Indian central government, the local legislature's approval was hardly problematic. The original Article 370, the first Presidential Order of 1950 and 1954, has been amended several times in order to make most of the provisions of the Indian Constitution applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. In 1956, Article 356, allowing the central government to impose President's Rule, and Article 357, empowering Parliament to confer upon the president the power of the state legislature, were applied to Jammu and Kashmir. The same year saw the changes in the designations of the head of state and the head of the government, respectively, from Sadar-i-Riyasat to governor and from premier to chief minister—bringing the state in line with other federal units in India. In 1967 the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People's Act was brought into conformity with the Central Law, enabling the Election Commission to appoint retired judges of the high courts of other states as members of the Election Tribunal. It also authorized the commission to interfere during the elections at the vote-counting stage in case of suspected irregularities. Articles 248, 249, and 250 of the Indian Constitution have been extended to the state so that the central government may legislate in matters of state jurisdiction. Under these constitutional provisions, the Indian Parliament would legislate on any matter not enumerated in the Union List. Article 248, in particular, gives extensive powers to the central government to interfere in state matters under the pretext of defending Indian sovereignty and preventing activities, including terrorist acts, directed against the territorial integrity of India, or causing insult to the Indian national flag, the Indian national anthem, and the Indian Constitution.

Patronage Politics and the Repression of Dissidence

During the period of Jammu and Kashmir's de facto integration into the Indian union, the state government employed the complementary strategies of patronage distribution and repression of democratic opposition. Through the use of large transfer payments from the central government (amounting to almost half of the state government revenues), the state expanded its governmental sector and became the largest employer. During the twenty-five years between 1964 and 1989, the public sector's share of economy more than doubled, from under 5 percent to 10 percent. This rapid expansion of the governmental sector becomes even more glaring when one realizes that the state paid negligible attention to the economic development of the region. The state leadership made only limited attempts to develop the region's manufacturing and industrial sectors. Consequently, rampant corruption prevailed within the state. Middle- and upper-middle-class Kashmiris took advantage of the expanded educational facilities, thus creating a massive burden on the state to accommodate the newly educated within governmental and state-supported institutions such as hospitals, schools, and social service institutions.

During the integration era, another significant characteristic of Kashmir politics was the leadership's determination to suppress political dissent. Whenever a dissident group tried to set up an opposition party, that group was either absorbed into the ruling party or simply outlawed. Until 1974 no effective opposition existed in the state. Any groups splintering from the dominant ruling party were quickly reabsorbed into it. The real opposition to Jammu and Kashmir's integrative politics was to come from two groups: the Plebiscite Front (formed by Sheikh Abdullah, and his close associate Mohammed Beg, after Abdullah's arrest in 1953) and the religious pro-Pakistan Jamait-i-Islami. Both groups served as significant avenues for those demanding self-determination for the people of Kashmir. The two groups were barred on and off by the ruling party from participating in the governing process. It is alleged that the Indian leadership viewed the emergence of an effective opposition as a threat to India's "national interests." As a result of limited public presence, the dissident groups remained ineffective in mobilizing the Muslim population of the valley toward their goal of holding a plebiscite. This was evident by their inability to take advantage of two significant political events in Kashmir, the "disappearance" of a holy relic in 1964 and the Pakistani armed infiltration into the valley in 1965. The Muslim population generally has a dedar (showing) of the holy relic (a hair from the prophet Muhammad's beard) after the Friday noon prayers at Srinagar's Hazrat Bal Mosque. Its disappearance in the winter of 1964 brought the Kashmir capital to a standstill. Daily processions went through the streets, with anger expressed at the Jammu and Kashmir state government. Religious tension was so high that the Kashmiri Hindus soon joined the Muslims in their mass protest. The government of India quickly got involved and sent an emissary, Lal Bahadur Shastri, to the valley to coordinate the recovery and the authentication process with the Central Investigative Agency and local religious leaders. Once it was found, Kashmir's Mirwaiz Maluvi Farooq authenticated the relic. The Indian government's sensitive handling of the dispute averted further crisis, and denied the dissident groups an opportunity to convert the Kashmiri Muslim population's religious outrage into anti-Indian sentiment.

In 1983, although the electoral success of opposition groups was not significant, managing as they did to win only one seat in the legislature, it provided impetus to several dissident factions to fight a united battle in the next elections. For the 1987 assembly elections, an eleven-party oppositional alliance, the Muslim United Front, was created. Despite the overwhelming popularity of the Front, the group won only four seats. There were widespread accusations of rigging of the elections, thus setting the stage for the birth of a violent secessionist movement in the valley in 1989.

The Secessionist Movement

A mass-based secessionist movement, accompanied by political insurgency, began in the Kashmir Valley in 1989. Its immediate catalyst was the rigging of the 1987 elections and the unpopular alliance between Kashmir's ruling party, the National Conference, and the India's Congress Party. Overnight, dozens of secessionist groups emerged in the valley, demanding sovereignty and freedom (azadi) from the Indian state. The two most prominent among these groups were the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), demanding unification of the Indian and Pakistani sides of Kashmir and seeking independence for all of Kashmir, and the Hizbul-Mujahideen, demanding an Islamic state and unification with Pakistan. Despite its killing of some Kashmiri Hindus in 1989 and 1990 (causing the departure of the small minority of Hindu Pandits from the valley), the JKLF claimed that its movement was essentially secular and that a unified Kashmir has room for both Hindus and Muslims. During the early stages of the movement, various Islamic fundamentalist groups failed to impose strict Islamic laws and customs, such as the compulsory veiling of Muslim women. This lack of adherence to the strict practices of Islam, as well as the popularity of the JKLF vision of freedom, led the Islamic secessionist groups to rethink their strategy. To maintain the movement's momentum and to unify several secessionist groups, an apex organization of more than thirty militant-nationalist groups, the Kul-Jammat-e-Hurriyat-e-Kashmir (All Kashmir Freedom Front), was formed in 1993.

Pakistan's involvement in Kashmir's secessionist movement goes beyond its claims of moral, political, and diplomatic support. During 1988 several secessionist leaders crossed the border into Pakistan-controlled Azad ("Free") Kashmir, received military training and weapons, and returned to the valley prepared for insurgency. By the end of 1989, the secessionist groups were successful in bringing about the total breakdown of the civil and administrative structures of the government. In 1990 the state of Jammu and Kashmir was brought under India's President's Rule with a massive occupation by the Indian armed forces. For the first three years of the movement, militant violence was accompanied by harsh repression by Indian armed security forces, inflicting serious human rights violations. With increased international pressure from human rights agencies, as well as Pakistan's continued support for the Kashmiri cause in various global forums, the Indian government took steps to discipline its security forces, setting up its own human rights watch agencies. India also began to reactivate the electoral process within the state, setting the stage for a return to civil government. Since 1996 two legislative elections and three parliamentary elections have taken place. With each election, voter participation has risen consistently, with the exception of a few urban-based constituencies in the valley. The valley's response to India's efforts to reactivate civil society can be attributed to three factors: a general fatigue of the population with the movement, the inability of the secessionist groups to deliver azadi, and the continued violence by both the secessionist groups and India's security forces. Consequently, the secessionist groups have come to be divided into two camps: the moderates who seek a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue, and the extremists who continue to use violent means to promote their cause. The latter, which includes a small portion of the local Hizbul-Mujahideen cadres, is largely dominated by violent Pakistan-based and sponsored groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, and Jaish-e-Mohammed. The Fidaʿiyyeen suicide attack is the newest and one of the more successful strategies adopted by these groups. The Kashmiri secessionist groups are now in the hands of the imported Islamic groups, sidelining the indigenous nationalist groups.

Since 1997 the Indian state has taken advantage of this situation and has adopted a dual strategy, on the one hand, to engage the moderate secessionist groups in dialogue, and on the other hand, to pursue the elimination of the militant leadership. Until 11 September 2001, the engagement of the moderates brought about limited successes. However, the events of 11 September and the resulting war on terror have been responsible for isolating the extremists and giving the moderates an opportunity to seek a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue. The October 2002 attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and the December 2002 attack on the Indian Parliament by Pakistan-based militant groups have strengthened India's hand vis-à-vis Pakistan in convincing international public opinion that the Kashmir issue cannot be resolved without Pakistan's commitment to prevent its territory from being used for political insurgency in Kashmir.

In April 2003, during his visit to Kashmir, India's prime minister A. B. Vajpayee made a promise to the Muslim population of the valley to seek a peaceful solution to the Kashmir problem and to extend India's hand of friendship to Pakistan. In January 2004, following several confidence-building measures to reactivate relations between the two countries, which had become severely strained after the attack on India's Parliament, India and Pakistan set in motion a process of dialogue on several issues, including Kashmir. Meanwhile, the Indian central government and the Hurriyat leadership have begun a series of talk to seek a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir issue. While it appears that it might be difficult for India to convince Pakistan to abandon its claims to Kashmir and to accept India's solution of making the Line of Control the international border, from the Indian perspective there is greater hope of coming up with a reasonable solution, such as increased constitutional autonomy for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, which might satisfy the moderate secessionist groups within the valley.

Reeta Chowdhari Tremblay

See alsoJammu and Ladakh ; Pakistan and India


Behera, Navnita Chadha. State, Identity and Violence: Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. New Delhi: Manohar, 2000.

Bose, Sumantra. The Challenge of Kashmir: Democracy, Self-Determination, and a Just Peace. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1997.

Ganguly, Sumit. The Crisis in Kashmir: Portents of War, Hopes of Peace. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Jha, Prem Shankar. Kashmir, 1947: Rival Versions of History. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Schofield, Victoria. Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan, and the Unfinished War. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2000.

Teng, Mohan Krishen, Ram Krishen Bhat, and Santosh Kaul. Kashmir: Constitutional History. New Delhi: Light and Life Publishers, 1997.

Thomas, Raju G. C., ed. Perspectives on Kashmir: The Roots of Conflict in South Asia. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1992.

Wirsing, Robert G. Kashmir in the Shadow of War: Regional Rivalries in a Nuclear Age. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, 2003.


views updated May 23 2018


KASHMIR , region in S. central Asia. The association of Kashmir with Jews was first alluded to by the 11th-century Muslim scholar Al-Bīrūnī in his "India-Book": "In former times the inhabitants of Kashmir used to allow one or two foreigners to enter their country, particularly Jews, but at present they do not allow any Hindus whom they do not know personally to enter, much less other people." In the time of the Moghul emperor Akbar (1556–1605), the question of the association of Jews with Kashmir and the Jewish descent of the Kashmiris was raised by the Jesuit Monserrate, who regarded the old inhabitants of this region as Jews by race and custom in view of their appearance, physique, style of dress, and manner of conducting trade. As early as the 17th century François Bernier, the scholar and traveler, who was in India from 1656 to 1668, was asked by Melchissedec Thevenot (1620–1692), a traveler and publisher, to discover if Jews had long been resident in Kashmir. Bernier reported that Jews had once lived here, but that they had converted to Islam. Nonetheless, as he put it:

There are many signs of Judaism to be found in this country. On entering the kingdom after crossing the Pire-penjale mountains the inhabitants in the frontier villages struck me as resembling Jews. Their countenance and manner and that indescribable peculiarity which enables a traveler to distinguish the inhabitants of different nations all seemed to belong to that ancient people. You are not to ascribe what I say to mere fancy, the Jewish appearance of these villagers having been remarked by our Jesuit Fathers, and by several other Europeans, long before I visited Kashmir. A second sign is the prevalence of the name of Mousa, which means Moses, among the inhabitants of this city, notwithstanding they are Mahometans. A third is the tradition that Solomon visited this country and that it was he who opened a passage for the waters by cutting the mountain of Baramoulé. A fourth, the belief that Moses died in the city of Kashmir, and that his tomb is within a league of it. And a fifth may be found in the generally received opinion that the small and extremely ancient edifice seen on one of the high hills was built by Solomon; and it is therefore called the throne of Solomon to this day.

The claim to be of Israelite extraction is still widespread among Kashmiris, who point to the similarity of place names which appear to reflect biblical names like Mamre, Pisgah, and Mt. Nevo. The Internet is not deficient in web pages which purport to show historical connections between India and the Jews, India and Jesus (who is said to have gone there), the identical nature of Hebrew and Sanskrit, and so forth.


F. Bernier, Travels in the Moghul Empire, 165658, ed. by A. Constable (1891). add. bibliography: T. Parfitt, The Lost Tribes of Israel: The History of a Myth (2002).

[Walter Joseph Fischel /

Tudor Parfitt (2nd ed.)]


views updated May 23 2018

Kashmir Region in n India and ne Pakistan; former Indian princely state. When the Indian subcontinent was partitioned in 1947, the maharaja of Kashmir acceded to India, precipitating war between India and Pakistan. A cease-fire agreement left it divided between the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir and the Pakistan-controlled areas in the n and w of the region. The n area of Kashmir is ruled directly by the Pakistan government; the w area, Azad Kashmir, is partly autonomous. The Aksai Chin area of Kashmir, on the border with Tibet, is occupied by China. Indian Jammu and Kashmir has remained in a state of unrest. Kashmir includes parts of the Himalayas and the Karakoram Range. The Vale of Kashmir, in the River Jhelum valley, is the most populated area; wheat and rice are grown. Total area: 222,236sq km (85,806sq mi).