BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON KASHMIR
Subject: BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON KASHMIR
From: Ajay R Belambe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 10 May 1994 10:33:04 -0400 (EDT)
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON KASHMIR
Jammu & Kashmir is the northernmost state of India and covers an
area roughly equivalent to the size of Minnesota. At present, 35% of
the state is illegally occupied by Pakistan and 17% by China. In
addition, 2.3% of the state was illegally gifted to China by Pakistan.
India governs less than half of the original state which acceded to India
in 1947 in accordance with the Indian Independence Act.
The population of the state governed by India is 6 million; of this,
64% are Muslims, 32% are Hindus, 2.2% are Sikhs and 1.2% are Buddhists.
Another 2 million Muslims live in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK);
taken together, Muslims would constitute 75% of the population of the
entire state of Jammu & Kashmir, which is roughly 5% of the total Muslim
population of India (the number of Muslims in India is greater than the
total population of Pakistan). Prior to 1947, half a million Hindus
and Sikhs also lived in POK, which has subsequently been "ethnically
cleansed" of all non-Muslims by the Pakistan army.
The state is divided into 3 main regions: Jammu, Kashmir valley and
Ladakh. In terms of area, Ladakh forms 58%, Jammu 26% and Kashmir valley
16%. Buddhists are a majority in Ladakh, Hindus in Jammu and Muslims in
Kashmir valley. Before 1947, nearly a million non-Muslims -- mainly
Kashmiri Hindus called Pundits -- also lived in the Kashmir valley; but
since 1989, the Kashmir valley has been "ethnically cleansed" of Hindus
and Sikhs by Islamic fundamentalists, armed and supported by Pakistan.
Prior to the 14th century, the Kashmir valley was mostly inhabited by
Hindus and Buddhists and was an important center of learning. Art,
literature and philosophy flourished unhindered. From 1326 to 1819,
various Islamic regimes from central Asia invaded and ruled the Kashmir
valley. During these 5 centuries, non-Muslims were given 3 choices --
convert to Islam, leave the Kashmir valley, or die. The most ruthless
persecution of non-Muslims was witnessed during the Afghan rule
(1752-1819). Kashmir was liberated by the Sikhs under Maharaja Ranjit
Singh in 1819. Following the defeat of Sikhs at the hands of the British
in 1846, Gulab Singh, the Dogra ruler of Jammu, acquired Kashmir from the
British and formed the state of Jammu & Kashmir. Thus Jammu & Kashmir
became a Princely State and remained so till 1947.
The Root Cause Of The Problem
Most of the Kashmiri Muslims follow Kashmiri Islam, a blend of
religious and cultural traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. The
root cause of the crisis in Kashmir is the struggle between two systems
of values and political organization. To Hindus, secular Muslims and
India, the subcontinent is, like the United States, one nation,
multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious. To orthodox Muslims
and Pakistan, the subcontinent has two nations -- one theocratic Islamic
and the other everyone else (non-Muslim).
This dichotomy resulted in the Muslim demand and agitation for a
separate country in 1931; and eventually led to the partition of India
in 1947, when the country achieved independence from the British. The 584
Princely States, constituting 45% of undivided India, were free to join
secular India or Muslim Pakistan. The ruler of Jammu and Kashmir was
unable to take a quick decision because, even though Muslims comprised
a majority of the state population, non-Muslims occupied a huge majority
of the total area of the state.
1st Pakistani Invasion
On 22nd October 1947, Pakistan launched its first invasion of India,
in an attempt to take Kashmir by force. The invaders were commanded by
General Akbar Khan, who later became the Chief of the Pakistani army.
Rape, murder and plunder decimated entire villages such as Baramula,
Rajouri and Poonch. The small army of Jammu & Kashmir state was no match
for the much larger and well equipped Pakistani invaders. Under these
dire conditions, the ruler of Jammu & Kashmir appealed to India for help
and signed the "Instrument of Accession" like the other Princely States.
Lord Mountbatten, the then Governor General of India, accepted the
Maharaja's request to join the Indian Union, and despatched the Indian
army to save Jammu & Kashmir from Pakistani aggression. This was
supported by the popular leader Sheikh Abdullah, who had earlier launched
a movement against the ruler for greater democracy and civil rights.
War between India and Pakistan continued for over a year. Talks to end
the Pakistani agression were fruitless. Finally, India took the issue to
the United Nations to get Pakistan declared as an invader and seek
withdrawal of Pakistani forces from Jammu & Kashmir. United Nations
Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was appointed, which issued
resolutions that called for (I) a ceasefire, (II) a complete withdrawal
of Pakistani forces from the territory of Jammu & Kashmir, and (III) an
ascertaining of the will of the people thereafter. The UNCIP clarified
that the holding of a plebiscite was contingent upon Pakistan fulfilling
conditions (I) and (II) within a reasonable time. The United Nations did
not question the legality of Jammu & Kashmir's accession to India -- for
to do that would amount to questioning the legality of the partition of
India and of the very existence of Pakistan; Jammu & Kashmir was thus
recognized as an integral part of India.
2nd Pakistani Invasion
Pakistan refused to withdraw its forces from the occupied territory of
Jammu & Kashmir, thus making null and void the UNCIP resolutions. It
joined big power blocks and received massive military and economic aid
from the West. Thus emboldened, in 1965, 34,000 Pakistani soldiers
infiltrated into Jammu & Kashmir and launched massive land and air
attacks against India. Pakistan was defeated in its second invasion and
signed the Tashkent agreement with India.
3rd Pakistani Invasion
In 1971, Pakistan launched a third invasion of India, which led to its
dismemberment and the birth of Bangladesh. In all three wars, Kashmiris
rose to the defense of their homeland and joined the Indian forces in
fighting the Pakistanis. The 1971 war, by splitting Pakistan into two
countries, disproved the two nation theory of dividing nations on the
basis of religion. Pakistan finally agreed to resolve all bilateral
issues peacefully through negotiations, and signed the Simla Agreement
in July 1972.
4th Pakistani Invasion
1989 witnessed the commencement of the 4th among the series of
wars; this proxy war is widely believed to have been conceived by the
late President of Pakistan, General Zia Ul Haq. The planned operation
was code named as "Operation Topac"; various Kashmiri terrorist groups
have openly publicized "Operation Topac" in their pronouncements.
"Operation Topac" relied heavily on the involvement of students and
farmers for creating riots and confusion in the valley. It also provided
for training and equipping youth for fighting Indian para-military
forces, and disrupting communication and transport. This operation also
outlined the help that Sikh militants and Afghan Mujahideen would
provide in the execution of some portions of the plan. "Operation Topac"
provided Pakistan a complete deniability of its involvement; the
conflict would appear as an indigenous uprising by Kashmiri Muslims
against the "oppressive Indians". During the first year of this proxy
war (1990), the "Operation Topac" worked flawlessly; it was perceived
by the press and the human rights organizations exactly as it was planned
-- an uprising by Kashmiris for their freedom from "brutal repression"
by Indian forces. Slowly, however, the deep involvement of Pakistan in
brewing trouble in the Kashmir valley has started surfacing from various
Elections In Jammu & Kashmir
Sheikh Abdullah was appointed as Head of the Emergency Administration
on 31st October 1947. The first elections in Jammu & Kashmir were held
in 1951. A constituent assembly was formed under the leadership of
Sheikh Abdullah and a constitution was drafted guaranteeing equality and
fundamental human rights to all, irrespective of religion or gender. In
1954, the assembly ratified Jammu & Kashmir's accession to India, thus
fulfilling the recommendation of the security council to refer this
matter to the vote of the people. In the absence of Pakistani withdrawal
from Jammu & Kashmir, this was determined to be the best alternative by
the people of Jammu & Kashmir. 8 elections were held in Jammu & Kashmir
between 1951 and 1987, and the state was continuously governed by a
freely elected Kashmiri Muslim.
During the last 45 years, Jammu & Kashmir received developmental aid
of around 7 billion dollars; food and other essential commodities have
also been heavily subsidized. These have made Jammu & Kashmir one of the
richest geographic areas in India. The literacy rate has jumped from
6.6% to 26%; per capita income has risen from Rs. 11 to Rs. 5200.
Education is free from elementary school upto and including professional
and University levels. 99% of the population own the house they live in.
There has been a successful land reform and distribution of land to the
farmers. The state has the highest per capita savings and the highest
per capita consumtion of animal protein in India.
In 1982, Pakistani commandos started infiltrating into the Kashmir
valley and providing armed support to the fundamentalist Islamic forces
there. In 1986, as a prelude to the elections, fundamentalists targeted
non-Muslims and their property in order to arouse religious passion. Many
Hindus were killed and property worth millions of dollars destroyed. The
situation worsened in 1989-90 resulting in the resignation of Farooq
Abdullah's government and the imposition of a direct governor's rule.
The population of Hindus declined from a high of 15% in 1947 to 7% in
1981 to less than 0.1% presently. Due to the Pakistani inspired
fundamentalist terrorism, directed especially at Hindus, there was a mass
exodus of almost the entire Hindu population from Kashmir valley in 1990.
The exodus followed large scale abductions, rapes and murders. More than
1500 Hindus were brutally murdered in order to "ethnically cleanse" the
Kashmir valley of all non-Muslims. About 500 Kashmiri women were
unaccounted for. On 4th January 1990, Aftab, an Urdu daily from Srinagar,
published a press release from Hizbul Mujahadeen asking Hindus to leave
Kashmir valley or face dire consequences.
On 19th January 1990, all mosques in the valley began broadcasting
Muslim war songs and an ultimatum to Hindus to leave the valley or face
death. The population was harassed and terrorized to such an extent that
the entire community had to flee for their lives. Nearly the entire
Kashmiri minority population (about 300,000), along with some moderate
Muslims, live today in refugee camps across India, having been forcibly
made homeless in their own homeland.
Asia Watch, in its 1993 report on Kashmir, has documented grave
violations of human rights and international humanitarian law comitted by
militants' (should read terrorists') organizations operating in the
Kashmir valley. For example, the report noted: "Those militant groups
which espouse a fundamentalist Islamic ideology have also issued threats
to shopkeepers and other persons associated with businesses they consider
'un-Islamic', including liquor stores and cinema hall owners."
Consequently, all cinema halls and liquor stores have been forced to
close in the Kashmir valley. Kashmiri women are forced to wear a veil;
acid is thrown on the face of those who disobey the fundamentalist
directive. To date, terrorists have butchered more than 7,500 men, women
and children, including secular Muslims such as Mushir-ul-Haq, Vice
Chancellor of Kashmir University, Maulvi Farooq and thousands of ordinary
Kashmiri Muslims who did not agree with the fundamentalist philosophy
espoused by the terrorists.
On 14th August 1993, six guerillas armed with assault rifles, stopped
a private bus carrying about 30 passengers from Kishtawar town to Jammu.
After ordering the Muslims off the bus, the terrorists drove it to an
isolated spot and opened fire on the 16 Hindu passengers. 14 were killed
on the spot and one died later at a hospital. In the Kashmir valley,
events are staged to hoodwink and mislead the media. The incident of
alleged rape of 23 women by an army unit in February 1991, was
investigated by a team of the highly respected autonomous body "The Press
Council of India". They found that the rape story was a massive hoax
orchestrated by militant groups for reinscribing Kashmir on the
international agenda as a human rights issue, as a part of "Operation
Topac" which tries to fool the international media and human rights
organizations into perceiving the 4th Pakistani invasion as a local
uprising by the Kashmiri Muslims.
Note: This "Background Information on Kashmir" was prepared by
Info-India, the Information and Media Subsidiary of India-Net.