Kashmir wasn’t always dyed in blood. The people of Kashmir had seen an intellectual renaissance under the rule of Kushans, who ruled Kashmir in 1st century AD, after the fallout of the Asoka dynasty.
Kushans loved Kashmir, they often held their court in beautiful springs, and also radicalised the silk route, which got Kashmir commerce and literary reforms.
Lalitaditya, the great Hindu king of 8th century AD, has been praised by Kalhana, the first historian of Kashmir, as a just and knowledgeable king, who was highly praised by his subjects. Kaniska institutionalized the Buddhist Council in Kashmir which provided a discourse among Buddhist monks all over the world for decades. The Great philosopher of India, Najarjuna lived and taught peace in Kashmir.
Even though, the struggles of power intensified from 10th century AD, many Hindu and Sanskrit historians have misinterpreted Kashmiri history, as rise of Islam started emerging. Shahab-u-Din, the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, was married to a Hindu queen, Lashmi and he always internally consolidated all his subjects belonging from different faiths. The valley of Kashmir prospered economically under the reign of his successor, Qutub-ud-Din. Even though the faith of Islam gained popularity, he was tolerant towards Brahmins, and kept Sanskrit as the official language. His rule ended in 1470 AD.
His grandson, Sultan Zainul Abideen, popularly known as ‘Bud Shah’ is perhaps the best remembered Muslim king in Kashmir. His love for Kashmir and his closeness to cultural roots have been ardently recorded. He encouraged poets, historians, artists and intellectuals. He introduced ‘paper mache’, shawl and carpet weaving traditions which are still in vogue till date. Unfortunately, in the years to come, the fate of native rule came to an end when Mughals invaded Kashmir. This marked an era of weakening sovereignty, a chronology of unfortunate developments, resulting in a blot which hasn’t been cleansed till date.
1586: Akbar sees power instability in Kashmir during the reign of Yusuf Shah Chak. He invests in this opportunity and intrudes Kashmir in 1586, ousts out Yusuf, the last Chak ruler and convicts him in far flung Bihar where he dies in misery and isolation. Under the guise of land reforms, nobility and grandeur, Kashmir starts losing its own cultural heritage. People are answerable to alien powers in Delhi. However, Mughal rule in Kashmir slowly sees its decline from 1707.
1751: The Afghan rule comes to Kashmir through Ahmad Shah Durrani. Their rule results in extortion and crude religious fanaticism. They impose heavy taxes, monish handicraft industry. Hindus are subjected to bias, and their role in administrative service drastically declines. Eventually, the Afghan rule ends its 47 year of reign in Kashmir as Sikh dynasty gains prominence.
1819: Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Sikh dynasty conquers Kashmir and subjects Kashmir to every kind of oppression. Kashmiris live under forcible repression and penury, and earn wages by doing menial jobs. They are heavers of woods and drawers of water. Eventually, Sikh dynasty sees its decline after they lose to the British in the ‘Battle of Sobroan’ near Sutlej, where feudatory of Jammu, Gulab Singh neglects the battle and plays a significant part in the victory of the British.
1846: Gulab Singh, the Monarch ruler of Jammu, signs ‘The Treaty of Amritsar’ with the British Empire and purchases Kashmir for Rs. 75 lakhs. The clauses under the treaty integrate Jammu, Ladakh, Baltistan and other hill states including Kashmir under the Dogra reign, as a separate border state. Dogras, under control, treat Kashmir as an occupied state and Jammu as their home state, which neglects the British in any direct intervention, to improve the plight of Kashmiris.
1860: ‘The Treaty of Amritsar’ is amended due to loyalty displayed by Ranbir Singh, in curbing the first Indian mutiny of 1857. Now, the ruler is allowed to select an heir from his collateral family which results in the succession of Dogras, in an event of present ruler’s death.
1889: A British settlement officer, Walter Lawrence surveys Kashmir, and comes to a conclusion that Kashmiris live under such brute oppression which is worse than the Third Estate of the French Revolution.
1929: In Srinagar, an amalgam of graduates from Aligard Muslim University, constitute Reading Room Party with an aim for emancipation of Kashmiris. Ghulam Abbas, an activist from Jammu, reorganizes Anjuman-i-Islam, a Mirwaiz institution, into Young Men’s Muslim Association of Jammu for the betterment of Muslims.
1931: The masses of Kashmir gain class consciousness. The revolt against Maharaja Hari Singh gains momentum. It is viciously subjugated by the constabulary of Maharaja. The Muslim majority masses are not allowed to represent in the state administrative apparatus. The lands belong to rich Hindu ‘Jagirdars’ who employ Muslims for tilling, and, would give them paddy which would last for petty three months. For rest of the months, Kashmiris would often go to Punjab and other plains to seek industrious labor. They would often die unsung and unwept.
1932: Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah launches ‘All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference’ against the Maharaja monarchy. It sets out a manifesto to fight for the sovereignty and liberation of the Kashmiri masses. The natives give unconditional support to Sheikh Abdullah. He is widely admired. In the meantime, The Maharaja constitutes ‘The Glancy Commission’ in an effort to redress the grievances of the masses, by giving recommendations for Muslims in state services.
1934: Maharaja delays the implementation of the recommendations, set out by the commission. This creates chaos and leads to a vehement agitation. Maharaja, under pressure, constitutes a legislative assembly which eventually turns out to be void and powerless.
1939: Leaders among the AJKMC [All Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference] get riddled in differences and the party gets a split. Sheikh Abdullah launches his independent party ‘Jammu & Kashmir National Conference’.
1946: Sheikh Abdullah harnesses support from the masses. JKNC launches ‘Quit Kashmir Movement’ against Maharaja Monarchy demanding abrogation of ‘The Treaty of Amritsar’ and sovereignty for the Kashmiri masses. Sheikh Abdullah is taken into custody.
1947: On 15th of August, 1947, India freed itself from the British Empire. The kings and rulers of the princely states were encouraged to accede into respective Indian and Pakistani dominions based on geographical contiguity, religion and cultural adjacency. In theory, any dominion could have been preferred. In case where a dispute occurred, the collective aspirations and general will of the people formed the basis of consideration. Practically, Kashmir was expected to go with the Dominion of Pakistan based on geographical and religious factors. Since the Hindu Monarch acceded a Muslim majority state to India, a grave dispute arose in case of Kashmir, unlike the case of Junagardh, a mirror image of Kashmir, where India won a plebiscite from the Hindu masses, resulting in the booting out of a Muslim dominated reign.
The Revolt of Poonch: In the spring of 1947, internal unrest begins at Poonch. Muslims rebels stir up public opinion against Maharaja’s oppressive and outrageous taxation policy. Several crowds of protestors demanding accession to Pakistan are fired upon. Maharaja dictates the Muslim rebels for surrender under the strengthened Hindu and Sikh garrisons. In late August, the people of Poonch evacuate their kins. The unrest turns into an organized uprising resulting in exodus of 60,000 Muslim refugees to Jammu, till September.
Jammu Muslim Massacre: In September, under the sponsorship of Maharaja’s state forces, armed Hindu and Sikh bandits murder thousands of Muslims out in the open. Survivors forcibly flee Jammu. Pakistan sends a telegram to Kashmir demanding probe into savage atrocities committed. An enquiry is promised which eventually never happens. In the meantime, no communal violence is witnessed in Kashmir
The Kabali Invasion: On 22nd October, the tribesmen from Pakistan, storm into Kashmir, and integrate with Poonch Rebels as an umbrageous reaction against the killings of Muslims in Jammu and Poonch. The Kabali tribe is supported by unofficial people and leaders from Pakistan. However, the tribes also engage in plundering and despoil along the way, resulting in exodus of over 10,000 Muslims. India accuses Pakistan for violating the ‘Standstill Agreement’. Pakistan rebuts the allegations. The revolt flares up neighboring Mirpur and Muzaffarabad. ‘Azaad Kashmir’ comes into existence with an independent government on 24th October, 1947
Indian Army Aggression: The national army of India invades Kashmir to repel the Kabali invasion, on 27th October. There are also cases where the Indian army is accused of committing atrocities towards common Kashmiris. India launches its first military aggression in Kashmir.
Release of Sheikh Abdullah: In prison, Sheikh Abdullah writes a letter to a friend in Jammu, favoring Kashmir’s accession with India. His statement is published at the Congress Press. On September 29th, Sheikh Abdullah is released from the prison, due to increasing pressure from the Indian Government. He would appear in public and would give contradictory speeches of Kashmir’s independence before the signing of the accession. On 26th October, he demands the restoration of power to the masses. Then throughout his political life, he would juggle between the accession instrument and the right of self-determination.
Strategical Disputes: Pakistan claims that Maharaja has no right to initiate the ‘Instrument of Accession’ till ‘The Standstill Agreement is in order. Jammu & Kashmir Muslim Conference and the tribal chiefs of Gilgit advice the Maharaja against the accession of Kashmir with India.
The Instrument of Accession: India signs an accession with The Maharaja on 26th October, 1947. The accession is granted provisional approval until the implementation of the plebiscite. It should be noted that there are no unconditional legal provisions relating to conditionalties in the ‘Instrument of Accession' (IOA). It was the ‘White Paper’ which was voluntarily designed by the Government of India, thus making a conflict between the legal interpretation and the political promises made to the Kashmiris.
First Indo-Pak War: India demands Pakistan to withdraw its troops for the implementation of plebiscite. On the other hand, Pakistan demands a bilateral demilitarization, with an argument that it would help in the free and fair implementation of plebiscite, considering Sheikh Abdullah’s friendliness with Jawaharlal Nehru. India refuses. The first war on Kashmir between India & Pakistan breaks out.
1948: Demanding a resolution of Kashmir, India takes the case of Kashmir, to the United Nations. World over, Kashmir is officially recognized as a disputed territory. UN passes a resolution recommending a third party into consideration: The people of Kashmir.
1949: On 1st January, UN offers a ceasefire between India and Pakistan. Both countries hold up the occupied parts of Kashmir. India regains control of some parts of Kashmir, Ladakh & Jammu, while Pakistan integrates with ‘Azaad Kashmir’.
UNCIP Formation: On 5th January. UNCIP (United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan) recommends a bilateral demilitarization, a truce agreement for the future, and an implementation of a free and fair plebiscite. Both countries fail to arrive at any peace resolution.
Indian Constituent Assembly: An ordinance is passed which integrates Article 370 of the Indian Constitution into Kashmir’s legal provisions, with foreign affairs, defense, communications and currency under Indian control. Internal autonomy is granted to Kashmir, under the ambit of the Indian constitution.
1951: Indian holds elections and tries to impose its democratic institution in Kashmir. It is opposed by the United Nations. They pass a resolution to declare elections void and stress on plebiscite. India ignores the opposition blatantly. Sheikh Abdullah wins unopposed.
1952: Sheikh Abdullah signs the Delhi Agreement on July, 1952. It chalks out state-centre sharing of power and gives abidance to Kashmir to have its own flag. Sheikh Abdullah creates Kashmir centric land reforms which create resentment among the people of Jammu and Ladakh. Delhi Agreement provides the first genuine erosion in international resolution of Kashmir.
Nehru's Speech: ”On August1952, Jawahar Lal Nehru gives a negating speech contradicting the settlement provided in the Delhi Agreement: “Ultimately - I say this with all deference to this Parliament - the decision will be made in the hearts and minds of the men and women of Kashmir; neither in this Parliament, nor in the United Nations nor by anybody else"
1953-1954: Sheikh Abdullah takes U turns and procrastinates in conforming the accession of Kashmir to India. Sheikh Abdullah is jailed. In August, Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad is installed in place of Sheikh Abdullah. He officially ratifies Kashmir’s accession with India. On April, 1954, India & Pakistan both agree in appointment of a Plebiscite Administrator.
1956-1957: On 30th October, 1956, J&K Constituent Assembly adopts a fresh constitution, and dissolves the Constituent Assembly, which further defines the relationship of Kashmir with the Indian Dominion. UN strongly condemns the developments and passes a resolution stating such attempts will not result in any final resolution. On 26th January, 1957, the new constitution is made enforceable. Kashmir is now a Republican-Democratic state under Indian Union.
1964: Sheikh Abdullah is released from jail. Jawahar Lal Nehru sends Sheikh Abdullah with a delegation to Pakistan in an effort to find a resolution discourse for Kashmir. In the meantime, masses in Kashmir protest against the implementation of Article 356 & 357, which allows Indian central authority over constituting legislative powers in Kashmir. The special status of Kashmir continues to get eroded.
1965-1971: The nomenclature is changed from ‘Sadr-e-Riyasat’ to Governor and from Prime Minister to Chief Minister. The Governor is now no longer elected locally, and is installed as per the orders of the President of India. This amendment lightens off Kashmir from its special titles. Free & fair elections in the guise of democracy are championed as just causes, and Indian mainstream parties are allowed to contest in the elections. However, these elections aren’t well received by the public. In many cases, international watchdogs accuse India of rigging elections. In 1967, Jammu Autonomy Forum is constituted with the aim of institutionalizing regional autonomy.
1972: Plebiscite Front is banned from constituting elections, and in the meantime, India and Pakistan, both, sign ‘The Simla Agreement’ which settles a basis for a bilateral solution for Kashmir through talks. The provisions also state that both nations should determine their military policies by respecting the Line of Control (LOC)
1974: Sheikh Abdullah signs an accord with the Government of India, on November, 1974. This agreement retains Kashmir’s so called ‘Special Status’, but its obliged to act under the Indian dominion. Sheikh Abdullah is again made the Head of the state. This time as the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir.
1977-1983: Jammu & Kashmir National Conference wins back to back elections in 1977 and 1983. International watchdogs accuse India of rigging elections again. In 1979, Afghanistan would recommend an Islamic Republic for Kashmir. Sikri Commission is also appointed in the same year in an effort to redress local grievances existent among the masses.
1987-1989: Farooq Abdullah comes into power in the 1987 election. He forms a coalition government with the Indian National Congress. This election, due to the nature of its immense rigging accusations, provides a scope for voicing dissent and it catalyzes deep resentment, not only amongst the secessionist political arena of Kashmir, but also suffers huge disfavor from public as well. Armed insurgency also gets on a rise. Due to its catastrophic effects, in the whole year of 1988 , world witnesses Kashmiris pouring out on streets, sloganeering anti-India demonstrations, which are deeply resisted by police firing, crackdowns, mass killings and curfew culture. The rigging of 1987 elections provides an offshoot platform for the demand for self-determination. From 1989, the Indian government tries to sabotage the rising secessionist movement through a central rule of authority for seven years.
1990: An ultra-Hindu nationalist leaning regulator, Jagmohan is appointed as the Governor of Kashmir. Farooq Abdullah resigns as the Chief Minister of Kashmir, and all powers are vested in the central rule. In the same year, about 100 protestors are fired upon in Gawkadal area. This event marks as the first brutal mass killing genocide in Kashmir. The people blame this notorious event on the administrators and it becomes the insurgency for the entire population. With violence as a catalyst, Kashmir becomes a land of bloody subjugation.
March: Over one million people protests on streets and 40 more are killed on the streets. A sense of insecurity rises amongst the Kashmiri Pandit community. Paranoias of pogroms force Pandits for an exodus, as even the Jagmohan’s administration discourages any reconciliation between two communities. With the result, more than one lakh Pandits flock off Kashmir.
May: Over two million people attend the funeral march of the slain spiritual leader of Kashmir, Mirwaiz Maulvi Muhammad Farooq; over 100 mourners are fired upon by the police. The grave irresponsibility of Jagmohan’s administration forces Government of India for a replacement in Girish Saxena.
1993: All Parties Hurriyiat Conference (APHC) is formed on specialist political lines to promote the cause of Kashmiri nationalism. It is aimed to promote a solution based on the UN Charter, its resolutions, and through a tri-partite negotiation between India, Pakistan and Kashmir. The amalgam, since its inception, has received criticism from Indian state actors, and praise from Pakistan and international watchdogs for its political measures and tactics in handling the grave dispute of Kashmir.
1998: Political leaders across the borders sign ‘The Lahore Agreement’ which includes settlement of all outstanding disputes including Kashmir
Regional Autonomy: Farooq Abdullah designs the RAC [Regional Autonomy Committee] of 8 units comprising of Ladadkh, Jammu and Kashmir without proposing any devolution of political and economic powers.
2000: On March, a notorious event about massacre of Sikhs at Chittisinghpora makes headlines. Kashmiris blame rebel militants recruited by Indian security forces, while India blames foreign militants. No judicial commission has been implemented to enquire about this killing till date. In June, the State Autonomy Report [SAR] puts a discourse on the future political initiative on Kashmir. The central government rejects the recommendation in July. In November, the Indian government announces ceasefire with the armed groups, which gets violated only after two weeks after India refuses to acknowledge Pakistan in tri-partite dialogue over the Kashmir dispute.
2001: In July 2001, India & Pakistan under the leadership of PM Vajpayee and President Musharaf fail to arrive at a settlement on the Kashmir issue, despite five long arduous one on one meetings and hours of discussions. Some plans are chalked out on Kashmir including free trade, demilitarization but don't get initiated due to failure in reconciling differences elevating bilateral complexities.
2002: On May 21, an eminent moderate separatist leader, Abdul Gani Lone is assassinated by unidentified gunmen. This is the same day on which Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq is killed as well. Kashmir’s history is rewritten in blood. Thousands attend his funeral prayers. Several theories of pro-government gunmen or the role of foreign militants has been rumored, but no investigation has been carried out till date.
2008: People are provoked by the state government through a controversial land deal, of 100 acres of land to a local Shrine Board, managing pilgrimages and local Hindu affairs in the valley, near the Amarnath cave, in May. A cave discovered by a Muslim shepherd in the mid- 19th century, is worshipped by Hindu as a deity of destruction. Beginning as a small pilgrimage, it was eventually offset into a mega event by the Hindu nationalist institutions. In June, Muslim masses of Kashmir protest against the land deal, waging a war on streets through stones and bricks. On August 11, there is a march towards Jehlum Valley road. Similar massive protests followed near the United Nations Observer’s Group. Kashmir is locked for months. Over 100 people are killed, over a short span of 2 months, including eminent separatist leader, Sheikh Aziz. It provides a renewed basis for self determination against the Indian state. Many liberal political commentators and Arundhati Roy express their anguish over the turmoil and recommend ‘Azaadi’ or freedom for Kashmir in open media forums. However, the agitation is eventually crushed by the Indian state through brute army aggression and curfew hegemony.
2010: The last year of the decade in Kashmir provides the most belligerent political atmosphere in waging a war against the Indian state. On June 11, at a protest gathering, Tufail Ahmad Matto, gets killed after receiving a tear gas shell, which blows his brains out. His death provides a charged catalyst in reincarnating the crushed agitation of 2008. Protestors shout anti-India slogans, processions continue even till late nights, people burn government buildings, defy curfew, attack Indian forces in the bunkers, and demand complete demilitarization of Kashmir. Citing human rights abuses, separatist leaders organize protest calendars which last for over 4 months, paralyzing the local life. Over 110 people get killed in the process. Indian Government after witnessing the intensity of upheaval recommends autonomy proposals, job generation promises and compensation to victims. These developments, however, are all are blatantly refused by both leaders and masses of Kashmir. The Indian government also announces the role of three eminent interlocutors in mediating the Kashmir dispute where the proposal still stands awaited.
© Naveed Qazi, Insights: Kashmir