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History Of Jammu And Kashmir

Jammu & Kashmir has a rich history, owing to a large number of facts and historical events that are related to the state.

The history of Kashmir is usually considered being confined to its five hundred years of secular history. However, if the geographical entity of the state were to be considered, Kashmir boasts about a history dating back to millions of years. According to popular belief, the first trace of man in Kashmir dates back five thousand years ago, but Kashmir has a recorded history of approximately only two thousand years. History of the state up to 800 B.C. is based on archaeological finds at Gufkral and Burzahom. Discoveries from these excavations provided evidence that the Kashmiri culture at that time was extensively inspired by the Swat-Culture. Because of this evidence, the culture of the state was recorded to be a mix of the Northern Neolithic Cultures and the cultures presiding in the Indo-Pak Subcontinent.

The conquest of Emperor Ashoka (273-232 B.C.) marks the beginning of Kashmir’s proto-history. Chandragupta Maurya was the father of Ashoka and lived in the district of Mainwali in West Punjab. His invasion of Punjab began from Gandhara, the land between Peshawar and Rawalpindi. Stories of his attacks and invasions in this region have been inscribed in the Kharoshti script. Gandhara was also used by many Buddhists to enter into state of Kashmir during Ashoka’s reign. It is believed that people belonging to Central Asian Regions like Indo-Greeks, Kushans, Sakas and Huns occupied Kashmir after Ahsoka's rule, and archeological evidence has been unearth to support this belief. The new occupants first strengthened their hold over Gandhara before finally entering into Kashmir. Known in history as the white Hun, Mihirkula (528 A.D.) was a powerful man and first strengthened his hold over Sialkote before invading Kashmir and beginning a kingdom there. He was known to be a worshiper of the Sun.

Gandhara has been proto-historically linked to Kashmir because of the Jhelum Valley Route which began from Hazara and stopped at Baramulla. This route was said to be the easiest way into Kashmir and was left open throughout the year. Among the territories that Gulab Singh bought from the Britons in 1846, the Hazara-Puklee was one of them. Gulab Singh later surrendered the route to the Punjab state and in return gained ownership of regions including Minawar, Kathua and Suchetgarh.

There are many records of Kashmir history that reveal information about the different Kings and their reigns in Kashmir. Historians believe that the first king of Kashmir was Praversena II (580 A.D.). However, he is also speculated to be an image of Damodarsena (420-455) who was also known as Praversena II of Vaktaka (Brahman) kings of Central India and Punjab. He was believed to be a Saivist. Even during the Abū Ryhān Alberūnī days in the 10th and 11th century, Kashmir continued to be an isolated area with Hindus replacing the Buddhists in the region. Up until that time, temples in Kashmir didn’t bear any resemblance to other temples of India. They had erotic features and most of them bore a resemblance to Greek architectures. Historians speculate that the reason behind this might have been because these temples were places of worship for Buddhists rather than Hindus initially. However, the region has now been eradicated from all form of Buddhism. Some of the earlier Buddhist temples were also converted into temples for Hindus. Though not many changes have been made, all temples have replaced the Buddha or Bodhisattva image present in the sanctum of the temples with a Hindu one.

Freedom Movement

History is compiled from a series of historical events, some of which go unnoticed by many common citizens. Most of these historical events don’t actually have an exact date when they started and are very seldom sudden eruptions. One such example is Kashmir’s Freedom movement. While it is believed that the movement started in 1931, such is not the case. The need and struggle for independence was not a sudden one that suddenly flared up one day. Unlike other freedom movements, Kashmir’s freedom movement was not an attempt to dethrone the administration or government but was simple an endeavor to gain the right to employment and livelihood.

The movement came into existence as a struggle to gain independence from the dreadful reign of successive Maharajas who suppressed the Muslims. A series of smaller events facilitated an organized movement in 1931. The Maharajas' suppression forced people to raise their voice against the authorities. Some of these events included the Zaldagar shawl weaver incident that took place April 20, 1868 which resulted in 22 deaths. After Muslims demanded an improvement in educational facilities for them, the Sharp Commission was appointed in 1916. On July 19, 1924 the tragic Silk Factory incident took place in Srinagar that led to the death of more than a dozen workers. This was followed by the submission of a memorandum to Viceroy Reading on October 14, 1924. In 1930, , the higher educated Muslims formed the constitution of Reading Room Party that demanded employment in the government.

Similarly, the Muslim League leadership attained the Pakistan (Lahore) Resolution of 23, March, 1940 after a lot of struggles and an extended period of events. These events date back to the days of Muslim-baiter Lord Hardinge who was the Governor General of India at that time. During his administration, English was declared the official language for all court and other official transactions. The formation of the All India Muslim League by the members of Muslim Education Society happened in 1906. This occurred during the societies Dakka session that bore evidence regarding Muslims not being in favor of many policies that the British Indian Government was adopting as disciplinary measures. This was followed by a series of other events that went down as milestones in the history of Kashmir’s Freedom movement. Some of these included the Khilafat Movement, the annual Muslim league session of 1928 where Allama Iqbal’s delivered his presidential address; the rejection of the Mr. Jinnah’s party during the Calcutta session of Indian National Congress. All these events can allow one to conclude that the Kashmir Freedom Movement took place nine years before the Pakistan Resolution in 1940.

Partition and Accession

According to Mr. Qureshi, accessions of Indian states didn’t take place due to the uproar between Muslims and non-Muslims. However, the explanation he provided for the accessions of Indian states didn’t logically fit into previous arguments on the same subject. Mr. Qureshi was not able to support his explanation with relevant examples of even a single Indian state with a Hindu ruler or administration that assented to Pakistan. Mr. Qureshi did admit that he agreed that the accession didn’t take place because Mr. Jinnah didn’t make majority or minority, geographical proximity or religion as criteria by which a state could decide its future. The rulers of two major Hindu states of India (Hyderabad and Junagarh) were Muslims. They tried to establish apolitical harmony with the new state of Pakistan, but all their endeavors to do so were shattered by the Indian government. Apart from that the major Muslim states of India like Kalat, Swat and Bhawalpur chose Pakistan over India. The political situation in North India during 1947 was so charged with communal opinions that many vowed never to let the union of these Muslim states with Pakistan happen.

Jammu and Kashmir had Muslim majority but was ruled by a Hindu Maharaja who looked to establish a “Stand Still” agreement with the new state of Pakistan. The agreement was met enthusiastically by Pakistan who responded appropriately. However, the Indian government did not react positively to this agreement. Therefore, the Maharaja stopped all further communication with the countries that have accepted his “Stand Still” proposal. However, the Maharaja shifted his attention to developing a road-link to Pathankot, despite the Indian state not approving of his earlier proposal. He was also instrumental in the arrest of many Muslin Conference leaders and stayed in touch with other Congress leaders. This endeavor included meeting with extremist communal fascists like Guru Golwalkar. The muslim warriors of Poonch Jagir were disarmed. However, his policies backfired, and he was forced to flee to Jammu. Though the Maharaja had signed the Instrument of Accession a day before the Indian army came to Kashmir, evidence suggested that he already had plans of going ahead with his “Stand Still” proposal with Pakistan behind the India state. According to Kuldip Nayar, the Maharaja confessed that he was afraid of consulting the people because of the events that had taken place earlier in Khyber-Pakhtun Khwa, known as the North West Frontier Province. His main concern was the referendum that was sent to NWFP before power was transferred to known whether the region wanted to join Pakistan or India. According to the Muslim League, this referendum was like asking people to choose between the Geeta and Quran and the Maharaja didn’t want the same thing to take place in his province.

According to the Maharaja, the people of his state should be given an opportunity to voice their preferences but only after agreeing to vote in favor of non-accession to Pakistan. In a message wired by the British Resident, Lt. Col Webb to Viceroy on August 13, 1947, the British resident, mentioned how the Hindu communities and Dogras were in favor of joining India, but most of the Muslim majority states preferred joining Pakistan. Some of these states included Poonch, the Muzaffarabad area and Mirpur. However, according to Kak, a Hindu, whichever dominion Kashmir joined, trouble was sure to follow.

In a letter sent to Vallab Bhai Patel on August 6, 1947 by Mahatma Gandhi after visiting Kashmir, Gandhi wrote that the Maharaja was of the opinion that the will of the people should be followed but didn’t provide any clear indication of which province he wanted to join. However, he did reveal his wish to replace Kak with Sir Jai Lal, though he was still wondering how to go about it.

Pakistan didn’t succeed in acquiring Kashmir. There were two reasons for this. First, the new-born state had a very small army and limited military strength. Secondly, the dubious planning of Lord Mountbatten gave Kashmir to the Indian State.

After Independence

After Independence when Jammu and Kashmir became a state of India, the Kashmir valley’s demographics were completely altered. 250,000 Kashmiri Hindus were forced to leave the region by the militants of the state. Moreover, even though the United Nation resolution of August 13, 1948 demanded Pakistan to remove its troops from the Kashmir region, Pakistan failed to do so and continued to occupy the region.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries continued to bitter owing to various reasons that eventually led to three wars in Kashmir. The first one was the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 followed by the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. The most recent one was the Kargil War in 1999. After the war, India gained reign over 60 percent of what was formerly known as the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir which included Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh. Pakistan attained power over 30 percent of the former state including Azad Kashmir and Gilgit–Baltistan. In 1q962, China took over 10 percent of the state, now known as Aksai Chin.

The eastern region of the Kashmir state has been plagued ever since with many boundary disputes. In the 19th and 20th century, Tibet, Great Britain, Russia and Afghanistan signed a few boundary agreements with regard to the northern borders of Kashmir. However, China didn’t abide by these agreements and refused to change its official position during the communist revolution in 1949. They entered the Northeastern areas of Ladakh in the 1950s.

In an attempt to facilitate better communication between western Tibet and Xinjiang, the Chinese created a military road through their Aksai Chin in 1957. In 162, when India discovered this road, a series of border disputes followed between the two countries resulting in the October 1962 Sino-Indian war. Ever since, China has had full control of Aksai Chin and adjacent areas. In 1963, Pakistan handed over the Trans-Karakoram Tract to China.

During a short period in 1957, the state had the opportunity to approve its own Constitution. This, followed by the death of Sheikh Abdullah in 1982, led to a lot of discontent in the state. This growing discontent, further fueled by the government’s allegation of a rigged assembly election in 1987 led to a violent revelation in the state which was backed by Pakistan.

Ever since, continues bloodshed, conflicts and disputes have taken place in the state between the Indian army and militants. Both teams have been blamed for spreading human rights abuse and encouraging acts like rapes, robbery, massacres and abductions. The Indian army has denied all accusations. After initiating the peace process between India and Pakistan, militant activities in the state declined dramatically in 1996 and even more in 2004.

Note: This article aims to shed light on the historical events that occurred in Jammu and Kashmir from its early days to current times.

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