Sunday, November 14, 2010

The History of Kashmir and Present Day Conflicts

The History of Kashmir

In the wake of recent happenings in the State of J&K, especially the Kashmir region and the political leaders there seeking international status of their issue, let us go through the history of the land. Let us know what is the background of the land, which is sought by many.

Early History
Kashmir was one of the major centre of Sanskrit scholars. According to the Mahabharata,the Kambojas ruled Kashmir during the epic period with a Republican system of government from the capital city of Karna-Rajapuram-gatva-Kambojah-nirjitastava.,shortened to Rajapura, which has been identified with modern Rajauri.Later, the Panchalas are stated to have established their sway. The name Peer Panjal, which is a part of modern Kashmir, is a witness to this fact. Panjal is simply a distorted form of the Sanskritic tribal term Panchala. The Muslims prefixed the word peer to it in memory of Siddha Faqir and the name thereafter is said to have changed into Peer Panjal.The Mauryan emperor Ashoka is often credited with having founded the city of Srinagar.


Kashmir was once a Buddhist seat of learning, perhaps with the Sarvāstivādan school dominating. East and Central Asian Buddhist monks are recorded as having visited the kingdom. In the late 4th century AD, the famous Kuchanese monk Kumārajīva, born to an Indian noble family, studied Dīrghāgama and Madhyāgama in Kashmir under Bandhudatta. He later becoming a prolific translator who helped take Buddhism to China

Muslim Rule : Shah Mir Swati (Reigned 1339-42)

Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir was a ruler of Kashmir and the founder of the Shah Miri dynasty named after him. Jonaraja, in his Rajatarangini mentioned him as Sahamera. He came from Swat, the then (Tribal) territory on the borders of Afghanistan and played a notable role in subsequentive political history of the valley. Shahmir became the ruler of Kashmir and reigned for three years.He was the first ruler of Swati dynasty, which had established in 1339.

The famous sufi saint Bulbul Shah was able to persuade the king of the time Rinchan Shah from Ladakh to adopt the Islamic way of life, and the foundation of Sufiana composite culture was laid when Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists were co-existing. Several Kashmiri rulers, such as Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, were tolerant of all religions in a manner comparable to Akbar.

By the early 19th century, the Kashmir valley had passed from the control of the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan, and four centuries of Muslim rule under the Mughals and the Afghans, to the conquering Sikh armies. Earlier, in 1780, after the death of Ranjit Deo, the Raja of Jammu, the kingdom of Jammu (to the south of the Kashmir valley) was captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Lahore and afterwards, until 1846, became a tributary to the Sikh power.

During the British Era, the Kashmir mountainous and hilly region (Kashmir Valley) was sold to Maharaja Gulab Singh for rupees 75 lakhs (around 1845). Later on, Ladakh was also added to the region.

Mixed Ethnicity
Jammu and Kashmir was always a mixture of various cultures and ethnicities- The Northeastern Kashmiri region was popoulated with majority of Sunni Muslims, Hindus (the Pandits), while the Jammu region had large number of Hindus and Sikhs alongwith Muslims. On the other hand, in Ladakh majority of people practice Buddhism. Hence to say that J&K belongs only to Muslims and should be isolated from rest of India will be a grave error. The present enimosity and confusion in the hearts of the people is created by 'so-called' Islamic leaders, who are mainly just playing a political game. Some of them are also influenced by politics across the border. It has always been a dream of our erstwhile Indian neighbours to spread error and terror in the hearts of the people of the region and take charge of the Jammu and Kashmir region. There is no religious agenda to it, which the gullible and not-to-gullible inhabitants fail to see.

Present Day Issues
The terror in the land is mainly spread by our neighbours, who do not want the people of the Kashmir to forget of the issue and eventually settle down amicably as part of India. The existance of the military in the land is due to the cross border insurgencies that keep happening from the Pakistani front. We have a current-day example in the form of Kargil attack in the J&K region. Even now, when since a few years, as Kashmir was calmly settling down and the youth were getting proper education and moving to other states for jobs and finding their identity in society, a fresh sense of hatred was instilled in the hearts of the people. No sooner had the PM, Mr Manmohan Singh declared that the troops will be slowly moved out of the J&K region due to better situation in the past couple of years, the recent mass movement was fuelled by political interests. When there is trouble / mass movement/ agitation, people lose lives. And it happened here too, which is very sad. Even Mumbai is not alien to this fact. Over a lakh people lost their lives to retain Mumbai in Maharashtra several years ago. But that is part of history now and we have moved on. In fact, we are so busy in lives in a metro like Mumbai that we have no time to reflect or even find time for ourselves! But life in Kashmir moves at a slower pace. The purity of the land and people have remained. So the people of Kashmir have time to think... and in a troubled and tense environment.... with curfews when people are sitting idle at home with work places and schools/ colleges closed... people think a lot and talk more.

No country or land doesn't have internal issues which cannot be resolved. But the people of Kashmir have isolated themselves even from the rest of Muslims of India, and refuse to consider 'our' problems as their own. If we go by numbers, the number of Muslims in India are definately more than or almost the same as the entire population of Pakistan (as we are heavily populated and even a 10-20%, for example, can be a very large figure!!). And in my personal opinion, I do not consider Pakistan a fully Islamic nation. I've seen the people and culture of Kashmir region. They are simple, God fearing people. There is not even a cinema hall in the region. Nor are people subject to a 'open' culture. They have just been victims of circumstances. I respect the people for their simplicity and values. But majority of the Pakistanis are more modern than Indian Muslims and lifestyles of many can cause cultural shocks to even the non-Muslims of India! Their films, songs - they are quite loud and copy Bollywood largely... from sarees to everything Indian. Their songs are quite bold, nothing to suggest it is of a Muslim nation. Even our loud mouth siren Rakhi Sawant is better than the Veena Malik from across the border we see on television, who is seen rubbing herself on every male she lays her eyes on! So why do the Islamic leaders of Kashmir want to thrust such non-islamic values from across the border on their people?

If J&K issue is not a political one and purely for giving a better status / deal for the Muslims of the Valley, who have suffered for long for various reasons, then will special quotas for Kashmiri Muslims in education and jobs and some other areas work out? This, alongwith the planned phasing out of the military from the area? Though the people of the region will appreciate such a move, I do not think the political-islamic leaders, who are now controlling the voice of the region, will agree to it. Their interest is in the politics across the border and they try to confuse the people of the region too. So confused are the people now, that some of them want to be neither part India (as Indians have been projected negatively to them), nor part of Pakistan (who they feel have caused them enough harm, but yet see Muslim brotherhood in them), but want a separate nation with accesss to both lands. Now this, as we all know, is not possible, without a threat to our nation and a threat to the people of Kashmir too. China too has eyes on our J&K, as we know with our previous experiences. But still the Islamic political leaders want to involve Pakistan in our internal issues! There are still many Kashmiris, who are glad to be part of India. All they want is peace and dignity in their land and want to prevent their misuse by political leaders from India and across the border.

Ironically, though Kashmir itself is like heaven on earth with its beauty, the circumstances and political interests and cross border terrorism have made lives of the people of the region : hell-like. God bless the people of Kashmir and save them from political interests. Kashmir is a part of India and it shall remain that way. We all are with the people of the Kashmir and highly condemn their being used for polit
ical interests- within India and across the border!

References: Wikipedia (

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