Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jammu and Kashmir : Paradise on Earth

jammu and kashmir


jammu & kashmir

map of jammu  kashmir

Dal Lake Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. It is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains. Jammu and Kashmir shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south and internationally with the People's Republic of China to the north and east and the Pakistan-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, to the west and northwest respectively.

Formerly a part of the erstwhile Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu, which governed the larger historic region of Kashmir, this territory is disputed among China, India and Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir is referred to in Pakistan as Indian-occupied Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital. While the Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, Jammu's numerous shrines attract tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year. Ladakh, also known as "Little Tibet", is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture.

The area known as Jammu and Kashmir came into existence when the Mughal Emperor Akbar invaded Kashmir in 1586, led by his general Bhagwant Das and his aide Ramchandra I. The Mughal army defeated the Turk ruler Yusuf Khan of Kashmir. After the battle, Akbar appointed Ramchandra I as the governor of the Himalayan kingdom. Ramchandra I founded the city of Jammu, named after the Hindu goddess Jamwa Mata, south of the Pir Panjal range.

In 1780, after the death of Ranjit Deo, a descendant of Ramchandra I, Jammu and Kashmir was captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Lahore and afterwards, until 1846, became a tributary to the Sikh power. Ranjit Deo's grandnephew, Gulab Singh, subsequently sought service at the court of Ranjit Singh, distinguished himself in later wars, and was appointed as the Governor or Raja of Jammu in 1820. With the help of his officer, Zorawar Singh, Gulab Singh soon captured Ladakh and Baltistan, regions to the east and north-east of Kashmir.

In 1845, the First Anglo-Sikh War broke out, and Gulab Singh contrived to hold himself aloof till the battle of Sobraon (1846), when he appeared as a useful mediator and the trusted advisor of Sir Henry Lawrence. Two treaties were concluded. In the first, the State of Lahore was handed over to the British, for an equivalent amount to one crore rupees of indemnity, the hill countries between the Beas River and the Indus River; by the second the British made over to Gulab Singh for 75 lakhs rupees all the hilly or mountainous country situated to the east of the Indus River and west of the Ravi River" . Soon after Gulab Singh's death in 1857, his son, Ranbir Singh, added the emirates of Hunza, Gilgit and Nagar to the kingdom.

Ranbir Singh's grandson Hari Singh had ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1925 and was the reigning monarch at the conclusion of British rule in the subcontinent in 1947. As a part of the partition process, both countries had agreed that the rulers of princely states would be given the right to opt for either Pakistan or India or in special cases to remain independent. In 1947, Kashmir's population was 77% Muslim and it shared a boundary with Pakistan. On 20 October 1947, tribesmen backed by Pakistan invaded Kashmir.

The Maharaja initially fought back but on 27 October appealed for assistance to the Governor-General Louis Mountbatten, who agreed on the condition that the ruler accede to India.Once the papers of accession to India were signed, Indian soldiers entered Kashmir with orders to stop any further occupation, but they were not allowed to expel anyone from the state. India took the matter to the United Nations. The UN resolution asked both India and Pakistan to vacate the areas they have occupied and hold a referendum under UN observation. The holding of this plebiscite, which India initially supported, was dismissed by India because the 1952 elected Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir voted in favor of confirming the Kashmir region's accession to India. Another reason for the abandonment of the referendum is because demographic changes, after 1947, have been effected in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, as generations of Pakistani individuals non-native to the region have been allowed to take residence in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Furthermore, in Indian-administered Kashmir, the demographics of the Kashmir Valley have also been altered after separatist militants coerced 1/4 million Kashmiri Hindus to leave the region. Moreover, Pakistan failed to withdraw its troops from the Kashmir region as was required under the same U.N. resolution of August 13, 1948 which discussed the plebiscite.

Diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan soured for many other reasons, and eventually resulted in three further wars in Kashmir the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and the Kargil War in 1999. India has control of 60% of the area of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir; Pakistan controls 30% of the region, known as Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. China has since occupied 10% of the state in 1962.

The eastern region of the erstwhile princely state of Kashmir has also been beset with a boundary dispute. In the late 19th- and early 20th centuries, although some boundary agreements were signed between Great Britain, Tibet, Afghanistan and Russia over the northern borders of Kashmir, China never accepted these agreements, and the official Chinese position did not change with the communist takeover in 1949. By the mid-1950s the Chinese army had entered the north-east portion of Ladakh:

By 1956–57 they had completed a military road through the Aksai Chin area to provide better communication between Xinjiang and western Tibet. India's belated discovery of this road led to border clashes between the two countries that culminated in the Sino-Indian war of October 1962. China has occupied Aksai Chin since 1962 and, in addition, an adjoining region, the Trans-Karakoram Tract was ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963.

For intermittent periods between 1957, when the state approved its own Constitution, to the death of Sheikh Abdullah in 1982, the state had alternating spells of stability and discontent. In the late 1980s however, simmering discontent over the high-handed policies of the Union Government and allegations of the rigging of the 1987 assembly elections triggered a violent uprising which was backed by Pakistan.

Since then, the region has seen a prolonged, bloody conflict between militants and the Indian Army. The Indian Army have been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including abductions, massacres, rape and looting.Some feel that is is absurd to defend the rights of separatists, who have themselves violated the human rights of others by harassment, torching religious sites, raping women, kidnapping innocent individuals, massacring hundreds of people, and coercing Hindus, some Sikhs and moderate Muslims to leave the Kashmir valley.

However, militancy in the state has been on the decline since 1996,also again in 2004 with the peace process with India and Pakistan. Furthermore the situation has become increasingly peaceful in recent years.

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