The Forgotten (Part 1): Kashmir, Heaven on Earth, Turned Hell on Earth by 21st Century India
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 20 Nov 2023
Please note that this publication contains graphic images and reports of human brutality, which may be disturbing to some readers. Parental guidance is recommended for minors.
“The Mughal Emperor Jahangir described the region of Kashmir as “Heaven on Earth” when he first set his eyes there, forgotten today and occupied by the ethnophobic Indian Army ensuring ethnic cleansing of Muslims in the region.” 
This paper, discusses the forgotten plight of the Indian occupied and controlled Kashmir, under the Bharitiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi and his drive of the Hindu Nationalistic fervour. Heinous crimes are being committed in India occupied Kashmir since 1947 but the international communities have conveniently forgotten the atrocities which by legal definition, constitute, what can only be classified as a “genocide in progress”, against the Muslim minority in this section of Kashmir, after independence of India from the British raj , followed by “The Partition” of India, based on religious differences , as planned by the departing British Raj, as a punishment for the rebellious Indians. The Imperialist Britain propagated the age-old policy of “Divide and Rule” to teach the “coolies a lesson”.
It is relevant to briefly remind ourselves by reviewing the geopolitics of Kashmir, in general. This Kashmir, a region in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges. Historically, India, Pakistan and China all claim partial or complete ownership of Kashmir. Kashmir is an 86,000-square mile region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir since both countries gained their independence in 1947. Between 1989 and 2008, more than 47,000 people were killed in separatist violence, according to the Indian government. Some human rights groups and nongovernmental organizations say the death toll is higher. Hundreds are still killed every year in separatist violence, according to human rights groups. The Line of Control separates Indian and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir. India-controlled: One state, called Jammu and Kashmir, makes up the southern and eastern portions of the region. Srinagar is the summer capital city. Jammu (city) is the winter capital. Pakistan-controlled: Three areas called Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan make up the northern and western portions of the region. The capital of Azad Kashmir is Muzaffarabad. China-controlled: One area called Aksai Chin in the northernmost part of the region.
A Timeline of Events in the Kashmir Region
- 16 March 1846: Princely state of Jammu and Kashmir was created with the signing of the Second Treaty of Amritsar between the British East India company and Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu. It was an addendum to the Treaty of Lahore, signed one week earlier, which gave the terms of surrender of the Sikh Darbar at Lahore to the British. The Sikhs could not pay part of the demand made by the British; Gulab Singh paid Rs 7,500,000 on their behalf, and in return received Kashmir Valley, part of the Sikh territories, to add to Jammu and Ladakh already under his rule. Gulab Singh accepted overall British sovereignty. Kashmir Valley was a Muslim-majority,  region speaking the Kashmiri language and had a distinct culture called Kashmiriyat.
- 10 May 1857 – 1 November 1858: India’s First War of Independence.
- 2 August 1858: End of Company rule in India.
- 20 April 1927: Maharaja Hari Singh passed the Hereditary State Subject order, granting special privileges to the state subjects for jobs and residence in the state. According to the order an “outsider” could gain state subject status “after the age of 18 on purchasing immovable property under permission of an ijazatnama and on obtaining a rayatnama after ten years continuous residence in the Jammu and Kashmir State”.,
- 1931: The movement against the Maharaja Hari Singh began and was brutally suppressed by the State forces. Hari Singh was part of a Hindu Dogra dynasty which ruled over a majority Muslim State. The predominantly Muslim population was kept poor, illiterate and inadequately represented in the State’s services.
- April 1932: The Glancy Commission appointed by the Maharaja recommended the establishment of a legislative assembly, called the Praja Sabha. It would have 75 members, with 15 official representatives, 33 elected representatives and the remaining seats held by the Maharaja’s nominees. Of the 33 elected seats, 21 would be reserved for Muslims, 10 for Hindus and 2 for Sikhs.,, The Maharaja accepted these recommendations but delayed implementation, leading to protests in 1934. The Maharaja granted a constitution providing a legislative assembly for the people, but it was powerless.
- June 1932: The All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference was founded by Sheikh Abdullah in collaboration with Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas to fight for the rights of the State’s Muslims.
- September 1934: The first elections for the Praja Sabha (the state’s legislative assembly) were held. The Muslim Conference won 16 of the 21 seats reserved for Muslims, but lost two of them to the Liberal Group, which had the majority in the assembly. Soon afterwards, the younger leaders of the Muslim Conference pleaded for broadening the party to include all the people of the state.
- 1937: Sheikh Abdullah met with Jawaharlal Nehru for the first time.
- May 1938: The second election for the state’s Legislative Assembly was held. The Muslim Conference won all 19 contested seats. Two independent candidates that won were said to have joined the Muslim Conference afterwards.
- June 1939: Under Sheikh Abdullah’s leadership, the Muslim Conference changed its name to National Conference and opened membership to people of all religions. At the same time, the National Conference joined the All India States Peoples Conference, a Congress-allied group of movements in princely states.
- 23 March 1940: The Pakistan Resolution was passed at Iqbal Park, Lahore. The resolution demanded the establishment of an independent state comprising all regions with Muslim majorities. The letter “K” in the name “Pakistan” represented Kashmir.
- 1941: Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas left the National Conference and revived the old Muslim Conference. The Muslim Conference became a client of the Jinnah-led Muslim League.
- 1941: 71,667 Kashmiris joined the British Indian Army for World War II; seven-eighths of them were Muslim, mainly from the Poonch-Mirpur area.
- April 1944: Sheikh Abdullah proposed a Naya Kashmir (New Kashmir) programme to the Maharaja, calling for a constitutional monarchy.
- 1944: Mohammad Ali Jinnah visited Kashmir during the summer, supporting the Muslim Conference in preference to the National Conference.
- 1947 – India and Pakistan gain independence from Great Britain. Kashmir initially decides to remain independent, choosing not to become a part of either Pakistan or India. After militants from Pakistan invade, the Maharaja of Kashmir signs a letter acceding to India. Pakistan does not recognize the letter as a legal document, sparking war.
- January 1, 1949 – India and Pakistan agree to withdraw all troops behind a mutually agreed ceasefire line, later known as the Line of Control.
- 1965 – India and Pakistan go to war again over Kashmir.
- 1989 – Islamic militants begin an uprising in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
- 1999 – India and Pakistan fight a limited border conflict in Kashmir, after armed invaders cross the Line of Control in the town of Kargil.
- July 25, 2000 – Hizbul Mujahedeen, a pro-Pakistan Kashmiri militant group, declares a unilateral ceasefire for three months in Jammu and Kashmir.
- August 8, 2000 – Hizbul Mujahedeen calls off its ceasefire.
- May 23, 2001 – India ends a six-month ceasefire while also inviting Pakistani military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, to peace talks aimed at ending five decades of hostilities between the two countries.
- July 14-16, 2001 – Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee meet in Agra, India, for a three-day summit. The talks fail to produce a joint statement on Kashmir.
- December 20, 2001 – The Indian army deploys troops on its border with Pakistan in the northern states of Kashmir and Punjab after an attack by militants on the Indian Parliament building. Pakistani troops also buildup across the frontier.
- January 12, 2002 – Musharraf announces a ban on two Kashmiri militant groups.
- October 2002 – Four rounds of polls to choose a new state administration conclude in Indian-controlled Kashmir. About 300-500 people are killed during the election campaign.
- November 2003 – India agrees to a Pakistani offer of a ceasefire along their borders in the disputed region of Kashmir. The ceasefire goes into effect November 26 and is the first ceasefire in 14 years.
- January 4, 2004 – Vajpayee meets with Musharraf in Islamabad. It is their first direct contact in two years.
- March 28, 2008 – Human rights workers find nearly 1,000 unmarked graves near the Line of Control. Hundreds of protestors in Indian Kashmir later clash with police, demanding an investigation into the graves.
- October 21, 2008 – India and Pakistan open a trade route for the first time in six decades on the Line of Control. Fruit, clothing and spices are among the items being transported.
- January 14, 2011 – India’s home secretary announces that India will cut its security forces in Kashmir over the next 12 months.
- February 10, 2011 – Pakistan and India agree to resume peace talks that halted after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
- July 27, 2011 – Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar meets with Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna in New Delhi to discuss ways to improve travel and trade across Kashmir.
- February 2015 – The Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP,) a regional party backed by the Muslim majority, announce the formation of a coalition government in Indian-controlled Kashmir. This follows five rounds of elections in 2014 without a clear winner and is the first time that the BJP will be part of the governing coalition in the state assembly. The coalition government is sworn in on March 1, 2015.
- January 2016 – The death of the chief minister of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, creates tumult within the coalition government. The presumptive successor is Mehbooba Mufti, Sayeed’s daughter. She declines to take the oath of office, however, as relations fray between the PDP and the BJP. With the power-sharing alliance in crisis, Governor’s rule is imposed in accordance with the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.
- April 4, 2016 – Mehbooba Mufti is sworn in as the first female chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
- September 18, 2016 – Armed militants enter an Indian army base in the town of Uri and kill 18 soldiers. Several hours later, four militants are killed in a shootout with the Indian army.
- September 29, 2016 – Two Pakistani soldiers are killed after clashes with Indian troops on the border.
- October 2016 – India relocates more than 10,000 people from around the disputed border area as tensions continue to escalate with Pakistan.
- November 15, 2016 – Raja Farooq Haider, the prime minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, says the government has moved 8,000 people to safer places in the wake of ongoing “Indian shelling,” and plans are being made to move others. In response, Indian defense spokesman Lt. Col. Manish Mehta tells CNN, “We always respond appropriately and effectively whenever there is a ceasefire violation from the Pakistan side.”
- August 1, 2017 – Violent protests erupt over the killing of Abu Dujana, the Pakistani commander of the terror group, Lashkar-e-Taiba.
- February 14, 2019 – At least 40 are killed when a bomb explodes near a convoy of Indian paramilitary personnel.
- February 26, 2019 – Pakistan declares it will retaliate “at the time and place of its choosing” after India conducts airstrikes on an alleged terrorist training camp inside Pakistan territory, in the first such incursion by Indian air force planes since the war in 1971.
- February 27, 2019 – Pakistan says its air force shot down two Indian fighter jets over Kashmir. India confirms the loss of one plane and says it shot down a Pakistani jet as it responded to the incident.
- March 1, 2019 – Pakistan announces that it will release an Indian pilot who was being held in custody.
- August 5, 2019 – Tensions between India and Pakistan increase after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces that India will revoke a constitutional provision giving the state of Jammu and Kashmir autonomy to set its own laws. In the wake of the announcement, widespread communications blackouts are reported in the Muslim majority region.
- August 6, 2019 – India’s parliament votes to approve the status change for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The reorganization bill increases New Delhi’s authority over the region, changing it from an autonomous state into a union territory. Pakistan responds that the change is illegal. “If the world does not act now, if the so-called developed world does not uphold its own laws, then things will go to a place that will damage the whole world,” says Imran Khan, prime minister of Pakistan.
- August 7, 2019 – Pakistan announces that diplomatic relations and bilateral trade with India are being suspended.
- August 8, 2019 – Modi delivers a televised address in which he claims that revoking Kashmir’s autonomous status will promote stability, reduce corruption and boost the economy. Pakistan’s foreign minister says the country will remain vigilant but no military options are being considered. The United Nations issues a statement calling on both countries to resolve the issue peacefully while respecting human rights in the region.
- October 31, 2019 – Jammu and Kashmir officially lose statehood status and become two union territories. As a background, at the time of Indian and Pakistani independence in 1947, Jammu and Kashmir was a princely state with a majority of Hindus in Jammu and a majority of Muslims in Kashmir. During Partition, its Hindu Maharaja chose to remain independent. When Pashtun militias invaded from Pakistan, the Maharaja acceded to the Union of India and India airlifted in troops.
The History of Kashmir
- The earliest known mention of Kashmir can be found in the ancient Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, which dates back to around 2000 BCE. The region is referred to as “Kashyapa Meru,” named after the sage Kashyapa.
- The Buddhist Mauryan emperor Ashoka is said to have visited Kashmir in the 3rd century BCE and spread Buddhism in the region.
Kushan and Gupta Periods:
- During the Kushan and Gupta periods (1st to 6th centuries CE), Kashmir became an important center for Hindu and Buddhist learning and culture.
- The Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang visited Kashmir in the 7th century and described it as a flourishing center of learning and trade.
- In the medieval period, Kashmir witnessed the spread of Islam. Shah Mir, a local noble, is often credited with the establishment of Muslim rule in Kashmir in the 14th century.
- The region became a prominent center for Islamic scholarship and culture.
- The Mughal emperors, particularly Akbar, exerted influence in Kashmir during the 16th and 17th centuries. Akbar is known for fostering religious tolerance and commissioning the translation of Sanskrit texts into Persian.
Afghan and Sikh Rule:
- In the 18th century, the region came under Afghan rule, and later, it was annexed by the Sikh Empire in the early 19th century.
Dogra Rule and British Influence:
- The Treaty of Amritsar in 1846 between the British East India Company and the Sikh Empire resulted in the transfer of Kashmir to the Dogra ruler Gulab Singh.
- The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, under Dogra rule, became a princely state within the British Indian Empire.
Independence and Accession to India:
- In 1947, as British India gained independence, princely states were given the option to accede to either India or Pakistan. The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir chose to accede to India, leading to tensions and conflict.
- The accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India led to territorial disputes between India and Pakistan, resulting in several wars and ongoing conflict. The Line of Control (LOC) now divides the region between the two countries.
the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir experienced a form of partition in 1947 during the broader partition of British India. The partition of British India led to the creation of two independent dominions, India and Pakistan, based on religious lines – with India for Hindus and Pakistan for Muslims. The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, was faced with the decision of acceding to either India or Pakistan.
In October 1947, faced with tribal invasion supported by the Pakistani military, Maharaja Hari Singh decided to accede to India. This led to the deployment of Indian troops to counter the invasion. The conflict resulted in a de facto division of the region along a military line, known as the “Line of Control” (LOC), which separated the territories administered by India and Pakistan in Kashmir. The part of Kashmir administered by Pakistan is referred to as “Azad Jammu and Kashmir” (AJK) and “Gilgit-Baltistan.” Azad Jammu and Kashmir translates to “Free Jammu and Kashmir.” The term “Azad” is used to denote a degree of autonomy, but the region remains under the administration of Pakistan. The territory administered by India is referred to as the union territory of “Jammu and Kashmir” and “Ladakh” after the abrogation of Article 370 and the reorganization of the state in 2019. The Line of Control (LOC) remains a heavily militarized and disputed border in the region.
The history of Kashmir is complex and intertwined with political, religious, and cultural developments. The region continues to be a point of contention between India and Pakistan, and the issue remains a significant geopolitical concern in the South Asian region.
The economic status of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has been shaped by various factors, including its geopolitical situation, administrative structure, and natural resources. It’s important to note that economic conditions can change over time,.
After Independence (1947-2022):
- Agriculture: Agriculture has traditionally been a significant economic activity in AJK. The region is known for its fertile land and production of crops like rice, wheat, and fruits.
- Hydropower Potential: AJK has considerable hydropower potential due to its hilly terrain and rivers. The exploitation of hydropower resources has been an area of focus for economic development.
- Remittances: Like many regions in Pakistan, remittances from overseas Kashmiris have played a role in the economy of AJK.
- Trade and Commerce: Cross-Line of Control (LOC) trade and the opening of trade routes have had an impact on economic activities. However, the region’s economic potential has been affected by the political and security situation.
- Infrastructure Development: Over the years, efforts have been made to improve infrastructure, including roads and communication networks, to facilitate economic activities.
Current Status (2023): Economic conditions can be subject to change based on various factors, including geopolitical events, government policies, and global economic trends. However, the current economy is significantly down, as tourism, which was a significant contributor to the economic buoyancy, is no longer a factor, in view of the tense security situation and regular cross border skirmishes, in which both sides have suffered losses.
A similar overview of the economic status of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Can be summarised as:
Jammu and Kashmir:
After Independence (1947-2022):
- Agriculture: Jammu and Kashmir has a diverse agro-climatic condition, and agriculture has been a significant contributor to the economy. The region is known for the cultivation of fruits like apples, cherries, and saffron.
- Tourism: The scenic beauty of Jammu and Kashmir has made it a popular tourist destination. The tourism sector has traditionally played a crucial role in the economy, attracting visitors to places like Srinagar, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and the Vaishno Devi shrine in Katra.
- Handicrafts: The region is renowned for its traditional handicrafts, including Pashmina shawls, carpets, and papier-mâché items. The handicraft sector has been an important source of income and employment.
- Hydropower Potential: Similar to AJK, Jammu and Kashmir has significant hydropower potential. The exploitation of this potential has been a focus for economic development.
- Cross-Line of Control (LOC) Trade: Cross-LOC trade, especially through the Uri-Muzaffarabad route, has facilitated economic interactions between the two parts of Kashmir. However, this trade was suspended in 2019.
- Special Autonomy: Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special autonomy under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution until it was abrogated in August 2019. This had implications for the region’s economic and political landscape.
After Independence (1947-2022):
- Geopolitical Considerations: Ladakh, due to its strategic location, has been influenced by geopolitical considerations. It has witnessed military presence and strategic developments over the years.
- Tourism: Ladakh’s unique landscapes, including high mountains and monasteries, have attracted tourists. Tourism has contributed to the local economy, though it is often seasonal.
- Agriculture and Livestock: Agriculture and animal husbandry are important economic activities in Ladakh. The region faces agricultural challenges due to its high-altitude desert climate.
- Renewable Energy: Given its vast expanses and high-altitude locations, Ladakh has been exploring renewable energy sources, including solar and wind power.
- Union Territory Status: In 2019, Jammu and Kashmir was reorganized, and Ladakh became a separate Union Territory. The change in administrative status may have implications for economic policies and development,
The Etymology of The Names of the Kashmir Region
Jammu and Kashmir:
- Jammu: The etymology of “Jammu” is not precisely known, but it is believed to have originated from the Sanskrit word “Jamboo,” referring to a type of tree. Over time, this evolved into “Jambu,” and then “Jammu.” The region of Jammu has a historical and cultural significance, and the name has been used for the southernmost region of the erstwhile princely state.
- Kashmir: The etymology of “Kashmir” is thought to be derived from the ancient Sanskrit name “Kashyapa-mira,” which means the “lake of Kashyapa.” Kashyapa is a sage mentioned in Hindu texts. The region is famous for its breathtaking landscapes, including lakes, and has been historically associated with the Kashmir Valley.
- The name “Ladakh” is believed to have Tibetan origins. In Tibetan, “La” means “land,” and “Dak” means “high.” Therefore, Ladakh is often translated as the “Land of High Passes.” This name is apt, given Ladakh’s mountainous terrain and its location amidst high mountain passes.
Motivations for the Use of Names:
- Cultural and Historical Significance: The names Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh reflect the cultural, historical, and geographical significance of these regions. They are deeply rooted in the history and traditions of the areas.
- Geographical Features: The names often describe or highlight significant geographical features of the regions. For example, “Kashmir” emphasizes the association with lakes, and “Ladakh” emphasizes the high mountain passes.
- Traditional and Linguistic Roots: The names have evolved over time and carry the linguistic and cultural influences of the regions. They often have roots in ancient languages like Sanskrit and Tibetan, reflecting the historical connection of these regions to broader cultural and linguistic traditions.
- Identity and Heritage: The names contribute to the identity and heritage of the regions. They evoke a sense of place and are integral to the local and regional consciousness.
It is important to note that the usage and significance of these names can be subjective and may vary based on historical, cultural, and political contexts. The etymological explanations provided here offer insights into the linguistic roots of the names, but the full historical and cultural significance goes beyond linguistic considerations.
The Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s description of Kashmir as “Heaven on Earth”.
The description of Kashmir as “Heaven on Earth” is often attributed to the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, who is said to have made this remark when he first set eyes on the Kashmir Valley. The story goes that Jahangir, who was known for his love of nature and beauty, was mesmerized by the breathtaking landscapes and the natural beauty of the region.
The poetic description of Kashmir as “Heaven on Earth” can be attributed to several factors:
- Scenic Beauty: The Kashmir Valley is surrounded by the Himalayan and Pir Panjal mountain ranges, and it is dotted with pristine lakes, meadows, and lush greenery. The natural beauty, with snow-capped peaks, vibrant flowers, and serene lakes, creates a picturesque landscape that has been likened to paradise.
- Mild Climate: The region experiences a temperate climate, with cool summers and snowy winters. This climate adds to the allure of Kashmir as a destination that offers respite from the extremes found in other parts of the Indian subcontinent.
- Cultural Richness: Kashmir has a rich cultural heritage with a history that includes influences from Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic traditions. The combination of cultural diversity and historical significance enhances the appeal of the region.
- Gardens and Waterbodies: The Mughals, including Jahangir and his successors, were responsible for developing exquisite gardens in Kashmir, such as the Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh. The presence of these meticulously planned gardens, along with iconic waterbodies like Dal Lake, contributes to the perception of Kashmir as a paradise.
- Romanticized Legacy: Over the centuries, poets, writers, and travellers have romanticized Kashmir in their works, further popularizing the notion of it being a heavenly abode. The beauty of the region has been a recurring theme in literature and art.
Despite its natural beauty, it’s important to note that the region has also faced political and territorial challenges, and the perception of Kashmir as “Heaven on Earth” coexists with complex geopolitical realities. The phrase, however, endures as a testament to the stunning landscapes and cultural richness that Kashmir offers to those who visit the region.
The important towns in Collective the Kashmir Region
In Pakistan Kashmir
- Murree is a popular hill station and tourist destination located in the Pir Panjal Range within the Rawalpindi District of the Punjab province in Pakistan. It is situated approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) northeast of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. The town is at an elevation of about 2,300 meters (7,500 feet) above sea level, offering scenic views, pleasant weather, and attracting tourists, especially during the summer months. Murree is known for its beautiful landscapes, wooded hills, and Victorian-style architecture, making it a popular getaway for locals and tourists alike.
In Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Ladakh, there are several picturesque destinations that are often considered equivalents to Murree in terms of being scenic hill stations or tourist spots. Here are some notable places:
In India Jammu and Kashmir:
- Gulmarg: Often referred to as the “Meadow of Flowers,” Gulmarg is a popular hill station in the Pir Panjal range. Known for its stunning landscapes, meadows, and snow-capped mountains, Gulmarg attracts tourists throughout the year. It is a renowned skiing destination in winter.
- Pahalgam: Situated on the banks of the Lidder River, Pahalgam is another scenic town in the Anantnag district. It is known for its lush greenery, meadows, and the starting point of the annual Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage.
- Leh: The capital of Ladakh, Leh, is a high-altitude desert town surrounded by mountains. It offers a unique landscape with barren hills, ancient monasteries, and clear blue skies. Leh has a distinct cultural and historical charm.
- Nubra Valley: Known for its surreal beauty, Nubra Valley is a high-altitude cold desert with sand dunes, monasteries, and the Shyok River. The journey to Nubra Valley is an adventure in itself, passing through the world’s highest motorable pass, Khardung La.
- Drass: Often referred to as the “Gateway to Ladakh,” Drass is the second coldest inhabited place on Earth. It is known for its stark landscapes, the Drass War Memorial, and its significance in Ladakh’s history.
While these places share some similarities with Murree in terms of being scenic destinations, each has its unique charm, cultural significance, and natural features. It’s advisable to explore these destinations individually to appreciate their distinctiveness and beauty.
The demographic information for Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), the self-governing administrative region of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, was as follows:
- Population: The population of Azad Jammu and Kashmir was estimated to be around 4 to 5 million people. Please note that population figures can change over time due to factors such as migration, natural population growth, and other demographic dynamics.
- Ethnicity and Language: The majority of the population in Azad Kashmir is composed of ethnic groups such as Kashmiris. The official language is Urdu, but other languages such as Pahari and English are also spoken.
- Religion: The predominant religion in Azad Jammu and Kashmir is Islam, with the majority of the population adhering to Sunni Islam. There is also a small Shia Muslim minority.
- Urban and Rural Distribution: The population is distributed between urban and rural areas. While some towns and cities, such as Muzaffarabad (the capital), Mirpur, and Rawalakot, are urban centers, much of the region remains rural with a significant agricultural population.
Jammu and Kashmir:
- Population: The population of the entire region of Jammu and Kashmir was estimated to be around 12 million people. This figure includes the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (Jammu, Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh) before the reorganization that took place in 2019.
- Ethnicity and Religion: Jammu and Kashmir is characterized by a diverse population, including Kashmiris, Dogras, Ladakhis, and various other ethnic groups. The region has a mix of religious communities, with a majority of Muslims, along with Hindus, Sikhs, and others.
- Urban and Rural Distribution: The population is distributed between urban and rural areas. Cities like Srinagar and Jammu are urban centers, while many areas, especially in the mountainous regions, are rural.
- Population: Ladakh, before its separation from Jammu and Kashmir and the creation of the separate Union Territory in 2019, had a population of around 290,000.
- Ethnicity and Religion: Ladakh is known for its unique cultural and ethnic diversity. The two main districts, Leh and Kargil, have distinct demographic compositions. Leh has a majority of Buddhists, while Kargil has a significant Shia Muslim population. There are also small communities of Hindus and Sikhs.
- Urban and Rural Distribution: Leh, the largest town and the administrative capital of Ladakh, is an urban centre. However, much of Ladakh is sparsely populated and rural, with a traditional lifestyle shaped by the high-altitude desert environment.
The Cause of the Ongoing Conflicts and oppression in the Region
The conflict in the region of Jammu and Kashmir is a complex and longstanding issue with historical, political, and religious dimensions. The primary cause of the conflict lies in the territorial dispute over the region, which has been a source of tension between India and Pakistan since the partition of British India in 1947. Here are some key factors contributing to the conflict:
- Territorial Dispute: The princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, which had a Muslim-majority population but a Hindu ruler, chose to accede to India in 1947 when British India was partitioned into India and Pakistan. This decision led to a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim the entire region of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Line of Control (LOC): The first Indo-Pakistani war in 1947-48 resulted in the establishment of the Line of Control (LOC), which divides the region into areas administered by India (Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh) and Pakistan (Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan). The LOC is a de facto border, and both countries maintain a military presence along it.
- Cross-Border Terrorism: The conflict has witnessed periods of violence and insurgency. Pakistan has been accused of supporting militants and insurgency in the Indian-administered part of Jammu and Kashmir, leading to a cycle of conflict and counterinsurgency operations.
- Religious and Ethnic Composition: The region has a diverse religious and ethnic composition, with a Muslim majority but also significant Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist communities. The demographic complexities contribute to the political and social dynamics of the conflict.
- Autonomy and Special Status: Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed a special autonomous status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 by the Indian government led to a significant shift in the region’s constitutional status and intensified tensions.
- International Involvement: The conflict has drawn international attention, and various international bodies have expressed concerns about the situation. The involvement of external actors, including diplomatic efforts and third-party mediation proposals, has been a recurring aspect.
The Jammu and Kashmir conflict remains a significant geopolitical issue with implications for regional stability. Resolving the conflict is a complex task that involves addressing political, historical, and social dimensions, as well as the aspirations of the people living in the region. The situation is dynamic, and efforts toward peace and resolution.
Reports of Brutal Atrocities by the Occupation Indian Forces in the Region
Jammu and Kashmir:
- Insurgency and Militancy: The Indian-administered part of Jammu and Kashmir has experienced periods of insurgency and militancy. Some groups, labelled as militant or insurgent organizations, have been involved in armed conflicts.
- Counterinsurgency Operations: The Indian government has conducted counterinsurgency operations against these groups, which it often refers to as terrorist organizations. These operations have been a source of ongoing tension in the region.
- Security Situation: Ladakh, particularly Leh and Kargil, has generally been more peaceful compared to the Kashmir Valley. However, the region has not been entirely immune to security challenges, and the situation can be influenced by broader geopolitical factors.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan:
- Cross-Border Tensions: Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, administered by Pakistan, have been relatively more stable in terms of internal security. However, there have been historical tensions and occasional incidents along the Line of Control (LOC) with India.
- Allegations of Cross-Border Infiltration: India has accused Pakistan of supporting infiltration across the LOC, alleging the involvement of militants or armed groups. Pakistan denies these allegations.
The Bottom Line is that the region of Kashmir is broadly divided between India and Pakistan, and within each of these countries, there are different administrative regions that make up the larger Kashmir region. The breakdown is:
- Jammu and Kashmir: This region consists of three main areas: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh. Historically, it had special autonomy under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. However, in 2019, the Indian government revoked this special status and reorganized the state into two separate Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir (with a legislative assembly) and Ladakh (without a legislative assembly).
- Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK): Also known as Azad Kashmir, this is a self-governing administrative region within Pakistan. It shares a border with the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. Muzaffarabad is the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
- Gilgit-Baltistan: This is another administrative region within Pakistan, situated to the north of Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Gilgit is the administrative capital. It is distinct from AJK in that it has a different administrative status, with representation in the Pakistani parliament.
The Line of Control (LOC) divides the territories administered by India and Pakistan in the Kashmir region. It is a de facto border, and both countries maintain military forces along it. The term “Kashmir” is often used broadly to refer to the entire region, including both the Indian-administered and Pakistan-administered parts, as well as the areas of Jammu and Ladakh. This geopolitical division and the complex history of the region have contributed to the ongoing Kashmir conflict, with both India and Pakistan claiming sovereignty over the entire territory.
The Kashmiri people have been targeted for a demographic transformation on their territory by an outsider group by introducing mass permanent settlements of outsiders. The outsider group is the Hindu nationalist Indian state under the leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been most successful in stirring up a nationalistic fervour, sacrificing democratic principles, deeply entrenched in the original constitution of India as exposed by the great Mahatma Gandhi and others in 1947.
Religiophobia rules supreme in Kashmir and citizens are Specifically Targeted for being Muslim
As a group, Kashmiris are additionally being targeted because they are predominantly Muslim as well as culturally and linguistically distinct. Muslims are treated as threats in India, including in Kashmir. They have been targeted for elimination in part through military force and economic oppression. Kashmiri youth have been criminalized and put into state custody for “reform” programming for throwing stones to protest the injustices they face and the impunity of the Indian military. This treatment is a violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child. Refusal to call out genocide has happened before, in Nazi Germany, Rwanda and elsewhere. The United Nations Convention on Genocide states that it must never be permitted again. The convention also states that at-risk groups must be protected. Instead, there has been an eerie silence from world leaders on naming the unfolding crime in Kashmir. Kashmiris have been the guardians, gardeners and caretakers of Kashmiri land, water, each other and non-human life.
The Weaponisation of Rape During the Kashmir conflict
The Kashmir conflict has been beset by large scale usage of sexual violence by multiple belligerents since its inception. Mass rapes were carried out by Dogra troops as well as Hindu and Sikh mobs during the 1947 Jammu massacres, and by Pakistani militia when the conflict broke out in 1947, including the Mirpur Massacre.
Numerous scholars and human rights agencies assert that since the onset of the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir in 1988, rape has been leveraged as a ‘weapon of war’ by Indian security forces comprising the Indian Army, PD, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Border Security personnel. However, the Indian government rejects such charges. Separatist militants have also committed rapes, which remain under-researched but are not comparable in scale to that of the Indian state forces. There have been many incidents of rape in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. A large number of Muslim women were abducted and raped in the Jammu region of the state, during the 1947 Jammu massacres in October–November 1947, which were carried out by extremist Hindus and Sikhs, aided and abetted by the forces of the Dogra State headed by the Maharaja Hari Singh.
In October 1947, armed Pashtun tribesmen from Pakistan, who had support from the Pakistani administration and Army, invaded Kashmir and committed atrocities such as raping and looting the locals, including Muslim girls, during the beginning of First Kashmir War. They took place in and around Muzaffarabad and Baramulla. Rape was also reported in the Mirpur region of today’s Azad Kashmir during the 1947 Mirpur Massacre which was carried out against the Hindu and Sikh refugees. Many women were also abducted.
In 1989, attacks on Kashmiri Hindus escalated and Muslim insurgents selectively raped, tortured and killed Kashmiri Pandits, burnt their temples, idols and holy books. The Pandits fled en masse from the state after which their houses were burnt by militants and their artwork and sculptures were destroyed. While cases of systematic rape of Kashmiri Muslim women by the Indian military are well documented, the details and scale of sexual violence against Kashmiri Pandit women remain yet to be researched.
According to Human Rights Watch, despite threats by Islamist groups to women since 1990, reports of rape by militants were rare in the early years of the conflict. Since 1991, reports of rape by Islamic militants have increased. In some cases, women have been raped and then killed after being abducted by rival militant groups and held as hostages for their male relatives. In other cases, members of armed militant groups have abducted women after threatening to shoot the rest of the family unless she is handed over to a militant leader. Local people sometimes refer to these abductions and rapes as “forced marriages”.
In 1992, a case of rape and murder by militants attracted publicity, partly because the incident provoked street protests condemning the militants for the crimes. According to the 1993 Human Rights Watch report, rape by militants is less common but has increased in frequency over the years. A 2010 US state department report blamed separatist insurgents in Kashmir and other parts of the country of committing several serious abuses, including the killing of security personnel as well as civilians, and of engaging in widespread torture, rape, beheadings, kidnapping, and extortion. Some incidents of rape by militants appear to have been motivated by the fact that the victims or their families are accused of being informers or of being opposed to the militants or supporters of rival militant groups.
According to the Human Rights Watch, the rape victims of militants suffer ostracism and there is a “code of silence and fear” that prevents people from reporting such abuse. It says that the investigation of cases of rape by militants is difficult because many Kashmiris are reluctant to discuss it for the fear of violent reprisals. The increase in number of rape cases has resulted in an increased number of abortions, leading in one case to murder of a doctor. The doctor was accused of being an informer by the Islamic militant groups Hizbul Mujahideen and Al Jehad.
According to a 1993 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, the security forces use rape as a method of retaliation against Kashmiri civilians during reprisal attacks after militant ambushes. Most rape cases, according to the same report, have occurred during cordon-and-search operations. According to a 1996 HRW report, security personnel in Kashmir have used “rape as a counterinsurgency tactic”. Scholar Inger Skhjelsbaek states that the pattern of rape in Kashmir is that when soldiers enter civilian residences, they kill or evict the men before raping the women inside. Scholar Shubh Mathur calls rape an “essential element of the Indian military strategy in Kashmir.”
According to Seema Kazi, there is no difference between the motivations behind rape in Kashmir with those which caused rapes to be committed in Rwanda and the Balkans. Kazi opines that rape in Kashmir is a “cultural weapon of war” and that the rape of Kashmiri women by Indian security forces, in the background of a mainly Hindu country repressing a Muslim populace, functions as a tool of “subordinating” Kashmiri males and the wider Kashmiri community. She also states that rape is used to demoralize the Kashmiri resistance and that there have been documented cases of soldiers confessing that they were commanded to rape Kashmiri women.
At the 52nd United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Professor William Baker gave testimony that rape in Kashmir was not merely a case of isolated incidents involving undisciplined soldiers, rather the security forces were actively deploying rape on the Kashmiri populace as a method of humiliation and frightening. He cited as evidence his interviews with several victims whose family members, including husbands and children, were made to witness their rapes. An Amnesty International report in 1992 stated that rape is conducted during counter-offensives against militants as part of a bid to methodically shame local Kashmiri communities. Dr Maiti, a professor of political science at Burdwan University, has condemned the oppressive Indian use of rape, noting that most of the Kashmiri rape victims have been civilians. During some interviews of soldiers on why they raped local Kashmiri women, some responded that Kashmiri women were beautiful. Others said it was a non-family station. In one case, a soldier replied that he raped a Kashmiri woman out of revenge because “their men did exactly the same to the women of his community”.
A study in 2005 by Médecins Sans Frontières concluded that the rate of sexual violence against Kashmiri women was one of the highest among the world’s conflict zones, with 11.6% of respondents, out of a total 510 people in their survey, reporting personal experience of sexual abuse. The study also found that in comparison to many other regions experiencing conflict, such as Chechnya, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka, the number of witnesses to rape in Kashmir was far greater. 13% of respondents in the study stated that they had witnessed a rape after 1989, while the proportion of those who had heard about a rape since 1989 figured at 63%. The proportion of respondents who had heard about more than five rape incidents stood at 59.9%. The proportion of those who had personally been witness to even more than five incidents of rape was 5.1%. According to Kazi, international awareness is low about the large extent of sexual violence in Kashmir. Scholar Dara Kay Cohen from Harvard University lists the conflict in Kashmir, alongside Bosnia and Rwanda, as among the “worst” of the “so-called mass rape wars”.
It was reported that Indian forces committed gang-rape of 882 Kashmiri women in 1992 alone. The Humanitarian Law Project/International Educational Development documented more than 200 cases of war rape from January 1994. Many cases are not reported because of the shame and stigma associated with rape in Kashmir. Human rights groups state that 150 top officers, of the rank of major or above, have participated in torture as well as sexual violence and that the Indian government was covering up such acts. In 2016, Kashmiri human rights activist and lawyer Parvez Imroz has said that a vast majority of cases of sexual harassment by Indian forces in Kashmir go unreported. Rape by security forces has notably occurred in areas of militant presence or activity. It has also happened to women from the Gujjar community, who live on the periphery of Kashmiri society. According to journalist Freny Manecksha, who tried to document conflict-related rapes in Kashmir in 2012–2013, their remote location has left them more susceptible to sexual violence. Drastic physical and emotional consequences are experienced by the victims. Because society believes their honour is lost, the male relations of the rape victim also experience “collective shaming”. The conservative nature of Kashmiri society means that males are reputed by their communities as having failed in protecting the purity of their women if they have been sexually assaulted. According to Molen and Bal, “the authorities have deliberately inflicted collective dishonor—and in fact defeat—through appropriating Kashmiri men’s control of women’s ‘izzat’.”
According to Hafsa Kanjwal in SAGAR research journal of University of Texas Austin, that since Kashmiri society wrongly heaps the blame of rape upon the victims, they continue to experience psychological problems and they accept the idea that they have been shamed and lost their purity. This feeling often leads to not just depression but also to breakdown in marriages, breakup of families and in some cases, suicide. In one example a 16-year-old teenager, Hameeda, was deemed to be a “spoiled good” and spurned by her family after an Indian Army officer raped her in 2004. Her marriage also broke down while she sought compensation and due to communal shaming she developed depression.
Molen and Bal observe that there is a societal trend to refrain seeking matrimonial matches in areas where incidents of rape are publicly known. In the villages of Kunan and Poshpora, there were cases of men spurning their wives after they had been raped by Indian soldiers. Other husbands, upon encouragement from militants, did take back their wives but would abuse them. One rape victim recounted that her husband considered her “defiled” by another male and still blamed her. In some cases, the relationships of the rape victims with their sons also deteriorated. Girls who have not been raped, but are related to rape victims, are also stigmatized by society. Rape victims have also reported experiencing taunts from boys. Pregnant rape victims often either miscarried or gave birth to children possessing disabilities.
Journalists Eric Margolis and Isaac Zolton have reported that some women who were raped by Indian soldiers subsequently fled from Indian administered Kashmir to Azad Kashmir. Studies have revealed that there has been an increase in the Kashmiri nationalist resistance because of the sexual violence and other atrocities, mainly from the Indian forces, that Kashmiri women have faced. The rape, indefinite detention and the torture, murder as well as regular extortion and harassment has had the desired effect. Kashmiris have fled the region in thousand, leaving their properties to the Hindu settlers brought in by the BJP Government. This is ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kashmiris based on their religion, as it is happening in Gaza and occupied territories where the Benjamin Netanyahu government is systematically eradicating the Indegenous Palestinians from their ancestral homes and land. Th situation has repeated itself, once again, currently in Gaza in Gaza.
Human Rights Watch stated in its 1993 report that those Indian authorities who were shown evidence of rape resorted to denial. The report says that the authorities do not order a full inquiry or prosecute the perpetrators but instead seek to discredit the integrity and testimonies of the witnesses and doctors who provide the evidence. Commissioner in charge of magistrates for Kashmir, Wajahat Habibullah, chose to resign after India denied the charges in 1991.
In 1993, Lt. General D. S. R. Sahni, General Officer Commanding in Chief of the Northern Command, when asked about the charges of rape by the security forces in Kashmir, has alleged that the militants “trump up” charges of rape against the forces. He said, “A soldier conducting an operation at the dead of night is unlikely to think of rape when he is not even certain if he will return alive.”
According to Kazi, the Indian media has ”displayed unseemly haste in exonerating security forces” from rape allegations. In 2016, JNU student union president Kanhaiya Kumar became the centre of controversy after speaking out on the rape of women in Kashmir by Indian security forces. The BJP youth wing filed a complaint against him, calling him “anti-national”.
According to the report of Human Rights Watch, the common use of rape by Indian security forces in the conflict drew little international condemnation, despite reports in the international press and by Indian human rights groups. According to scholar Amit Ranjan, the Indian state has always sided with the perpetrators and not the rape victims and Indian society is generally not disturbed by rapes in Kashmir due to Kashmiri Muslims being considered the ‘other’. At the same time, Ranjan says that the Kashmir Valley’s disputed status between India and Pakistan has given it an advantage in that it can receive some global attention. Former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, in her address to the Fourth World Conference on Women at Beijing in 1995, called the use of rape as a weapon of war in Jammu and Kashmir ”reprehensible” and ”depraved”.
Feminist commentators are critical of the way Kashmiri men have addressed the issue of rape. According to Kazi, the reaction of Kashmiri men to the rape of their women is one of feeling powerlessness and confoundment. But Kazi also complains that while Yasin Malik of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front recognises that Kashmiri women have been sexually victimised by the Indian Army, he fails to consider Kashmiri society’s “torture” and stigmatisation of the rape victims.
According to journalist Syed Junaid Hashmi, both separatists and mainstream political parties in Kashmir have ignored the rape victims. Hashmi says that the state governments order inquiries which turn out inconclusive while the perpetrators receive rewards for their anti-militancy efforts. The separatist leadership’s response to the victims is that ‘they have lost their honour for a greater cause’. Separatist leader Shahidul Islam commented, “I know by merely giving statements, honour lost by our daughters, sisters and mothers cannot be restored. They expected a lot more from the separatist leadership than what it has been doing, unfortunately we failed in pursuing the cause of our women vigorously.”
However, it is to be noted that when it concerns Muslims, there is inertia from international bodies such as ICC, ICJ, UN, Human Right Watch and other self-proclaimed custodians of human rights. The author,,, has written extensively about this obvious prejudice and bias against sectors of the global community based on religion, in international high-level committees, globally.
This was particularly evident when ICC issued a warrant of arrest for Russian President Vladimir Putin, most expediently, with respect to the war in Ukraine, yet when it concerns the Palestinians, no such action is taken because the victims ae Muslims, even in the face of glaring human rights violations by Israel with open “Rock Solid and Unwavering Support” from USA, under the Biden Administration. Furthermore, the same applies to the plight of Kashmiri Muslims where rampant genocidal agenda and crimes against humanity are ignored by these international, high level bodies of community justice.
However, The United Nations Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) during its 55th meeting on November 17, 2023, did pass a draft resolution which may be applicable to Israel, India and other states where violence and ethnic cleansing is directed against the Muslim Community, such as the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the genocide of the Muslim Uighirs n China.
Regardless of colonial borders, what is most fundamental is what Kashmiris, as a sovereign Indigenous people, want. According to a popular Kashmiri protest chant that has reverberated through Kashmiri history: “Jis Kashmir ko khoon se seencha! Woh Kashmir hamara hai!” “The Kashmir that has been drenched in our blood! It belongs to us, the Kashmiris!”
 Personal quote by author, November 2023
 Prem Nath Bazaz, Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir, New Delhi 1954, pp.140-166
 Copland, Ian (1981), “Islam and Political Mobilization in Kashmir, 1931–34”, Pacific Affairs, 54 (2): 228–259, doi:10.2307/2757363, JSTOR 2757363
Professor G. Hoosen M. Vawda (Bsc; MBChB; PhD.Wits) is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment.
Director: Glastonbury Medical Research Centre; Community Health and Indigent Programme Services; Body Donor Foundation SA.
Principal Investigator: Multinational Clinical Trials
Consultant: Medical and General Research Ethics; Internal Medicine and Clinical Psychiatry:UKZN, Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine
Executive Member: Inter Religious Council KZN SA
Public Liaison: Medical Misadventures
Activism: Justice for All
Tags: Conflict Analysis, India, Kashmir
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 20 Nov 2023.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: The Forgotten (Part 1): Kashmir, Heaven on Earth, Turned Hell on Earth by 21st Century India, is included. Thank you.
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