Since the beginning of Pakistanís
low intensity proxy war in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in 1989,
terrorist violence has a taken a toll of over 20,000 innocent lives.
More than 300,000 Hindu and Sikh minorities from Kashmir Valley, and
from the border areas have been displaced. Terror and intimidation have
wrecked the peace for civillian life in the state and cross border
terrorism continues to take a daily toll of innocent lives. Recently,
Pakistan used the Kargil invasion to sneak in a large number of armed
merecenaries into the state, who ratcheted up the violence one more
notch, gravely hampering people's participation in the recent Lok Sabha
Yet the issue of a plebiscite, given much currency by Pakistan and by
the imperialist powers, continues to haunt many well-meaning Indians who
feel that India stands on morally weak ground by insisting on the Simla
Agreement and rejecting a referendum. The demand for a plebiscite in J&K
is highly misunderstood. There is a myth that the demand for a
plebiscite reflects the aspirations of all (or a sizable majority) of
the state's population, and is the only way for the people of J&K to
articulate their right to self-determination. Although seemingly
well-intentioned, those who see a plebiscite as a cure-all for the
problems of the people of the state are in fact, ignorant of the
historic and contemporary complexities surrounding this issue.
History of Kashmir Before 1947
Kashmir, if literally translated, means land desiccated from water: "ka"
(the water) and shimeera (to desiccate). Tradition says that Kashmir was
originally a lake that was drained by the great saint of ancient India
Kashyap. It was included in the empire of Ashoka Maurya who is credited
with the foundation of the city of Srinagar around the year 250 BC.
During this period Buddhism spread in Kashmir and flourished under the
Kushans. During the reign of Kanishka, the third Buddhist council took
place in Kashmir which has been attested by the 7th century Chinese
traveler Hien Tsang. But Hinduism held its sway in the region. The 7th
Century AD witnessed the establishment of a dynasty called the Karkota
whose foundation stone was laid by Durlabhavarrdhana. The most famous
ruler of this dynasty was Lalitaditya Muktapid who built the world
famous sun temple (Martand) in Kashmir. The Karkotas were supplanted by
the Utpalas in 855 AD. The most important ruler of this dynasty was
Avanti-verman. He recovered Kashmir from utter political and economic
disorder into which Kashmir had fallen during the rule of his
predecessors. Didda, a Gupta widowed queen, ruled Kashmir until 1003 AD
when the Lohara dynasty took over. Didda was a very unscrupulous and
willful lady and led a very immoral life. But in spite of these
drawbacks, she ruled the valley with firm hands.
The last Hindu ruler of Kashmir was Udyan Dev. His chief Queen Kota Rani
was the de facto ruler of the kingdom. She was a very brave lady, shrewd
and an able ruler. With her death in 1339 the Hindu rule in Kashmir came
to an end and thus was established the Muslim rule in Kashmir under
Sultan Shamas-ud-din whose dynasty ruled the valley for 222 years. The
greatest ruler of this dynasty was undoubtedly Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin.
Under his rule Kashmir was culturally and politically at its zenith. The
kingdom was annexed into the Mughal Empire in 1586 and thus was
extinguished the freedom of Kashmir.
In 1757 Kashmir came under the control of Ahmed Shah Durrani, the Afghan
who invaded India many times. In 1819 Kashmir was annexed by Ranjit
Singh and made a part of his Sikh empire. The two Anglo-Sikh wars fought
between the Sikhs and Ranjit Singh resulted in the complete extinction
of the Sikh sovereignty in Kashmir. The British gave away Kashmir to
Ghulab Singh for the sum of 75 lakhs of rupees under the Treaty of
Amritsar. This entitled Ghulab Singh to have his complete sway over the
dominion. He extended his territory by annexing Ladakh. Ghulab Singh
died in 1857 and was replaced by Rambir Singh (1857-1885). Two other
Marajahs, Partab Singh (1885-1925) and Hari Singh ruled in succession.
Maharaja Sir Hari Singh ascended the throne in 1925. He continued to
govern the state till 1950. In 1932 Kashmir's first political party -
All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference was formed by Sheik Abdullah The
party was later renamed the National Conference in 1939 and continues to
be a major political party in Kashmir today.
History of Kashmir After 1947
After Indian Independence in 1947, the ruler of the princely state of
Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, refused to accede to either India or
Pakistan. When Pakistan invaded Kashmir in the following year, the ruler
of Kashmir sought help from the Indian government and agreed to place
Kashmir under the dominion of India. As a result India sent its troops
to Kashmir to help the Maharaja. A UN cease-fire in 1949 saw the end of
fighting and created the first Line-of-Control.
In 1956 Kashmir was, in effect, integrated into the Indian Union under a
new Constitution. However, Azad Kashmir, the area which Pakistan gained
during its campaign in 1948, continues to remain with Pakistan. The
volatile situation was aggravated by the Chinese occupation of the Aksai
Chin region, in Ladakh, in 1959. The situation came to head in 1963 when
a Sino-Pak agreement defined the Chinese border with Pakistani Kashmir
and ceded Indian-claimed territory to China.
India and Pakistan fought over Kashmir again in 1965. A UN cease-fire
took effect in September, 1965. Prime Minister Lal Bhadur Shastri of
India and President Ayub Khan of Pakistan signed the Tashkent agreement
on 1st January 1966. They resolved to try to end the dispute by peaceful
Fighting erupted between India and Pakistan once again in the month of
December 1971, after the leaders of the independence movement in East
Pakistan sought India's help. Its leaders were aided by India in their
struggle for independence. After the war, the province of East Pakistan
emerged as an independent country called Bangladesh. A new cease-fire
took effect and the Shimla Agreement was signed between the Indian Prime
Minister Indira Gandhi and the Pakistani President Z. A. Bhutto. Both
the countries agreed to sort out all issues bilaterally.
Kashmir was a tourist's paradise during the 1970's and early 1980's.
However tourism in Kashmir declined during the late 1980's and 1990's,
due to the terror perpetrated by separatist militants and self-styled
freedom fighters. Victimized by Islamic fundamentalists and mercenaries,
thousands of innocent Kashmiri lives have been lost due to terrorism.
Today the situation has somewhat improved with both countries agreeing
to come to the negotiating table and discuss all outstanding issues with
an open mind. All this augurs well for the state of Jammu and Kashmir
and hopefully, peace will return to Kashmir - followed by tourists, who
remember its beautiful parks, rolling meadows, spectacular mountains and
scenic destinations with nostalgia.
HOW TO REACH
BY AIR - The state has three
major civil airports at Srinagar, Jammu, and Ladakh connected to Delhi
and other places in the country. Indian Airlines and its subsidiary
Alliance Air operate in the Delhi-Chandigarh-Ladakh and Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar
Jammu Tawi is an important railhead of the Norther Railways serving the
Jammu and Kashmir State. The trains operating to/from Jammu are : Malwa
Express, Super Fast, Jammu Mail, Jammu Express, Shalimar Express,
Sealdah Express, Jhelum Exoress, Himgiri Express, Himsagar Express Lohit
Express, Sarwodaya Express, Happa Express, Navyug Express, Gorakhpur
Express, Barauni Express, Madras Express, Rajdhani Express and Ferozpur
Jammu falls on Natinoal Highway 1-A and is connected by national highway
network to all parts of the country.
Some important road distances are : Amritsar - 243 kms, Chandigarh - 436
kms , Delhi - 586 kms., Katra - 48 kms, Srinagar - 305 kms, Manali - 428
kms, Patnitop - 112 kms. Mansar - 60 kms.