Tuesday, 11 October 2016


Part 1...

The recent misplaced and misguided publicity campaign at the behest of the Modi government has once again brought Kashmir issue on the front burner. Surgical strikes have been carried out by the Indian forces almost continuously ever since independence in 1947 but none of the successive governments were fool enough to publicise them to this extent thereby deliberately putting its hand in fire without any legitimate reason and itself creating grave problems for the country both from the view points of international diplomacy and internal security. The media publicity, what they call 'expose', in their lingo was nothing short of mindless fingering of the Pakistani terrorists and provoking them. Ideally, the government should have carried on such 'surgical strikes', but silently and stealthily. There is no point provoking insane people. The Modi government might have, however, earned some points from the political angle. Anyhow, even that is not worth it until and unless they make some more such ‘surgical strikes’, to 'create the atmosphere', before the scheduled assembly  elections in some states.

Kashmir has been boiling ever since independence of the country and partly it has been because of 'wrong' steps by successive governments. Looking back it appears that none of the Indian governments were really keen to take any politically correct steps, in the national interests', to control the situation. International diplomacy and Pakistan’s blatantly open and shameless support to militants and terrorists have only worsened the situation. My recent interactions with some ‘sane’ journalists  returning from Kashmir as also with some intellectuals and ‘Kashmir watchers’ besides my Kashmiri friends and contacts, indicates that the situation there has only been worsening and, god forbid one appears to be fast heading towards a point of no return. further, according to my such friends, it appears that there is no government worth its name in Kashmir and to make the matter worse, perhaps no one wants it to be resolved. 

Like a habitual offender, I have become habituated of seeing  things from my own 'independent and unbiased' point of view and this is something which has made me unpopular amongst the powers that be. But I am incorrigible. For some time now, I am trying to see and analyse Kashmir from my own independent point of view and I propose to writes some special blogs here, on this issue. My aim is not to try to impress anyone with my thought process, howsoever coloured that might be. I love talking to the walls and that is what I am going to do. Talk to the walls of my blog. Take it or leave it.

To understand the Kashmir issue which has since become so volatile, one needs to dwell into its history. In broader territorial sense Kashmir, that is, the Kashmir as it existed in 1947, is spread over specific areas of Central, South and East Asia, which as on date includes, Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan occupied so called ‘Azad’ Kashmir and Gilgit- Baltistan and Chinese occupied Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram areas.

Kashmir and its people have for centuries seen nothing but havoc. This has been one of the routes of invasion and its plunder by foreign powers. Kashmir, as we see it today, has also seen assimilation of distinctive cultures and it has been suitably adjusting itself to all of them thereby producing a unique synthesis.  The history of Kashmir dates back to about 3000 B.C. In the first half of the first millennium, this region was one of the most important centres of Hinduism. Then starting with the reign of Asoka in 304- 232 B.C. it gave way to Buddhism. Starting 875 A.D., the region saw decline of Buddhism and rise of Shaivism which later began to be called Kashmir-Shaivism which culturally influenced the Shaivism even in the Southern India. 

Islamisation of Kashmir started in the 13th century when Shah Mir, some call him Sayyed Shah Mir, became its first Muslim ruler. Shah Mir is said to have come to Kashmir from Swat Valley. Joanaraja, a Kashmiri historian of the medieval period has recorded that Shah Mir's forefathers had converted to Islam and were Kshatriya. There are references by Abu'l Fzal in Akbarnama. Joanaraja recorded that during the reign of a Hindu king Sehadeva (1301-?), a Tatar chief named Dulucha had invaded and ravaged Kashmir. King Sehadeva fled the country and in subsequent political turmoil one Rinchan, a Ladakhi prince captured the throne (reigned 1320–23). Subsequently under the influence of his trusted minister Shah Mir, he embraced Islam and took the name of Sultan Sadruddin. Later in 1339, Shah Mir, himself usurped the Kashmiri throne. This ended about three hundred years old Lohara dynasty which is said to have been instituted in year 1000AD. Islamisation of Kashmir, brought with it, several schools of religious, cultural, social and ethnicity. Of all of them, the most predominant was 'Sufism'.

Shah Mir was followed by Mughals and then Afghan Durranies who ruled till 1819. In fact, prior to 1815, the entire ‘united’ Jammu and Kashmir area comprised of 22 small, yet independent states. Of them, 16 were controlled by Hindu and 6 by Muslim rulers. Collectively known as ‘Punjab Hill States’, they were carved out of the territories which were once controlled by the Amir of Afghanistan. All these states; different in composition, religion and ethnicity; were under the subjugation of the Mughals as well and were known as their ‘vassals’. From the point of view of religion and ethnicity of these areas, Ladakh consisted of Buddhists. People of this region have had distinctive features akin to Tibetans.  Jammu had a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims.  Kashmir valley was overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim along with a sprinkling of Shias and Hindus.  Baltistan had Ladakhi ethnicity but was mostly inhabited by the Shia Muslims. Gilgit was also Shia. Most of these areas were later captured by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the greatest of Sikh rulers. After the defeat of Sikhs in the first Anglo-Sikh war in 1846, Kashmir region was purchased by Gulab Singh, the Raja of Jammu. 

‘Rule’ (under British ‘supervision’) of his descendent lasted till the signing of ‘Instrument of Accession’ on October 26th 1947, which was executed by Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of this princely state, agreeing to accede to the Dominion of India following the independence of India and formation of Pakistan. This was also the commencement of the 'Kashmir Issue'...


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