The Government of India administers almost 60% of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and is unequivocal on its stand - “Kashmir is an integral part of India”. The official map of the state, as approved by the Indian Government, shows the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, and Aksai Chin, as part of Indian Territory. According to the Indian government the Instrument of Accession was a legal act executed without any deceit or coercion.Read in detail
Pakistan authorities refer to the 1933 Pakistan Declaration and claim Kashmir to be one of the Indian units that were to secede from India and join Pakistan. Pakistan claims that the accession to India was unconstitutional since it violated the terms of the ‘Standstill Agreement’ between Pakistan and the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan was formed on the basis of the Two Nation Theory. Since most of the people inhabiting the Kashmir valley are Muslims,Read in detail
In 1947, before they withdrew colonial authority, the British Government divided the Indian subcontinent into two states, based largely on religious demographics. The primarily Muslim nation, Dominion of Pakistan, was formed on August 14, 1947 and the largely Hindu state, Union of India, was formed on August 15, 1947. In one of the largest instances of population transfers post World War II, over 11.2 million people moved from their homes as a result of the partition. Over 5 million Hindus and Sikhs moved to India, primarily from West Punjab, and about 6 million Muslims moved from India to present-day Pakistan. A poorly executed transfer resulted in violent communal disputes and caused about 500,000 deaths.
An Ancient Past
An in-depth study of the history of the Kashmir region reveals that the dispute goes way back in time. It precedes the creation of India and Pakistan as nations. References to the Kashmir Valley are replete in ancient Hindu mythology. According to legend, ancient Kashmir has long been under the sway of various rajas. The first raja was Adgonand, who ascended the throne in 4249 B.C. at a time when Egypt was said to have been ruled by demigods. He was succeeded by his son Danudar who was killed by the Yadhus, the tribe to which Krishna belonged.
The Kashmir region was ruled by the Kambojas and later by the Panchalas in the fourth and fifth centuries BC. With the spread of Mauryan dominion over most of the Indian subcontinent, Buddhism as a religion found a strong base in Kashmir. The Mauryan emperor Asoka is credited with the establishment of Srinagar. It comes as no surprise, then, that the valley has shared close cultural ties with China. A number of Buddhist thinkers used Kashmir as their base to spread the religion to China and Tibet during the reign of the Kushan kings.
Through the first millennium, the Kashmir valley saw many alternating phases of prosperity and misery under the Hindu rulers. In 1320, the Kashmir valley was invaded by the Mongol ruler Zulquadr Khan (known as Dulacha) ending Hindu rule. He came to Kashmir through the Baramulla pass and plundered Srinagar. As there was no organized government, the local chiefs declared independence. Among those who took advantage of prevailing anarchy was Rinchana, the son of the Ladhak chief. Rinchana entered Kashmir through Zoji-La Pass. He converted himself into a Muslim and assumed the name Sadr-u-din. He died in the year 1323. From 1323 to 1338 the state was ruled by Udayanadeva. Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir, the first Pashtun ruler of the region came from the tribal Swat region of Afghanistan and established Muslim reign in the valley in about 1339. Some of the subsequent rulers such as Sultan-Sikandar persecuted the Hindus of the region and a mass exodus followed. The spread of Islam during this period was widespread. By 1586 the Kashmir Valley was annexed by the Mughal ruler Akbar. In 1589 AD, Kashmir became a province of the Mughal Empire. By the time Aurangzeb came to ascend the Mughal throne, the governors of Kashmir seemed to have taken to ravaging the natural bounty of the land and ruthlessly pursued religious fanaticism. By 1752, Kashmiri nobles invited Ahmad Shah Adbali of Kabul to invade and annex the land. Kashmir soon became part of the Pathan rule. It is generally agreed that despite the persecution of some rulers the Hindus and Muslims of the region lived in relative harmony and Kashmir evolved into a society where the intellectuals – both Kashmiri pandits and the erudite Muslims - were a dominant force.
Brokering A Kingdom
Through the early nineteenth century, religious despotism, cruelty, and poverty shrouded the Kahmir Valley and this lasted till the Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh conquered the state in 1819. In 1822, Ranjit Deo’s nephew Gulab Singh was designated “Raja of Jammu” by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Gulab Singh successfully annexed the Baltistan and Ladakh regions. The death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839 accelerated the collision between the Sikh Empire and the British authorities. Gulab Singh, who had initially remained neutral, contrived to act as an advisor to Sir Henry Lawrence with the outbreak of the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1845. The conclusion of the treaties of Lahore and Amritsar left the Britishers in charge of the Sate of Lahore including all of West Punjab. Gulab Singh signed a separate treaty with the British, which gave him the status of an independent princely ruler of Kashmir. The Kashmir Valley was handed over to Gulab Singh by the Britishers for a payment of seventy-five lakh rupees. Having placed himself favorably with the British authorities, Gulab Singh found the opportunity perfect to orchestrate his ascendancy. Gulab Singh died in 1857 and was replaced by Rambir Singh (1857-1885). Two other Maharajas, Partab Singh (1885-1925) and Hari Singh (1925-1949) ruled in succession.
The Princely State Of Jammu And Kashmir
The Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir, though ruled as a unitary kingdom by the Dogras (Gulab Singh and successors), remained divided by disparate religions and ethnic groups. While the Kashmir Valley was predominantly Sunni but both Baltistan and Gilgit regions were populated by a majority of Shi’a Muslims; Jammu, the traditional seat of the Dogra kings, was inhabited in equal measure by Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. The people of the Ladhakh region practiced Buddhism and shared close cultural ties with China and Tibet. The Poonch region was primarily inhabited by Muslims. The Kashmiri Pandits of the valley region wielded much influence in cultural and political matters.
Gulab Singh’s demise in 1857 tied in closely with the Indian Rebellion, popularly known as the Sepoy Mutiny. The Dogras of Kashmir supported the British forces and subsequently ruled the state under the Paramountcy of the British Crown.
The Disputed Instrument of Accession
In 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh Dogra, the great-grandson of Gulab Singh, was offered a choice – the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir could join either of the newly formed states of India and Pakistan or could remain independent. The undecided Maharaja entered into a Standstill Agreement with Pakistan allowing for continuation of normal trade and exchanges till a settlement was reached. In the meantime, a rebel faction from Poonch revolted against the Maharaja’s rule and declared the formation of Azad Kashmir, an independent government. By the October of 1947, the Poonch rebel faction invited Pakistani guerilla troops to engage in a campaign to dissuade Kashmir from joining India. The guerilla troops left a trail of plunder and murder across Kashmir. Perturbed by the unsettling new development, Maharaja Hari Singh appealed to the British Viceroy Lord Mountbatten. As suggested by Mountbatten, the Maharaja agreed to accede to India on the condition that Indian troops would evict the Pakistani lashkars from Jammu and Kashmir. On October 26, 1947, the king executed the Instrument of Accession and Jammu and Kashmir was thus poised to join the Dominion of India. Mountbatten formally accepted the accession. With this, the Maharaja handed over the valley to India. By the instrument of Accession, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir accepted three subjects as ones on which the Dominion Legislature can make laws. They are- Defense, External Affairs, and Communication. Lord Mountbatten remarked that the state’s accession be eventually settled by a referendum. Pakistan contested the accession on the grounds that Kashmir’s Standstill Agreement with Pakistan was still in force at the time. India has maintained ever since that the state has been irrevocable acceded to India following the Instrument of Accession, Pakistan has maintained that the people of Kashmir be allowed to participate in a referendum to settle the issue.Three Wars and a Line of Control
Three major and bloody wars have been fought by the two countries over Kashmir since 1947. The Indo-Pakistan War of 1947 resulted from Maharaja Hari Singh’s execution of the Instrument of Accession. When war escalated to vociferous levels India invited mediation by the international community and the United Nations. The war ended in December 1948 by which time the Line of Control (LOC) was established to demarcate the administrative segments of Kashmir. The international boundary dispute was still left pending. The war of 1965 ended after bleeding the two countries. Thousands of lives had been lost and the intervention of USA and erstwhile USSR had become necessary. India recorded a victory but the damages to both nations. On January 10 1966, the Tashkent Declaration was signed and the two nations withdrew forces to the LOC. The war of 1971 was unrelated to the Kashmir issue and centered on Bangladesh.
Later, in 1999, the Kargil War reopened raw wounds. Pakistani troops infiltrated the Kargil district across the LOC and assisted insurgents in the area. India retaliated and the war that ensued caused panic in the international community with the threat of a nuclear war becoming imminent. International pressure forced Pakistan to withdraw. Besides, with the Indian army having reclaimed the Tiger Hills and other strategic peaks in the Batalik, Pakistan had not much to gain by pressing on with the offensive. Over the years, a number of clashes have marked the Siachen Glacier region where the Line of Control is not clearly chalked out.