Kashmir as it stands today – I

17 Jul

The recent violence in Kashmir has dealt a great deal of damage to the gains made there in recent years.  In this and the next blog post (will be up soon), I encapsulate a summary of the main events concerning Kashmir, and also an attempt at making a timeline of recent events there.

Main events in Kashmir’s history (as taken from “Understanding Kashmir“):

1846: Jammu and Kashmir(J&K*) State is created under the Treaty of Amritsar between the East India company and Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu who buys Kashmir Valley from the East India Company for Rs.75,00,000 and adds it to Jammu and Ladakh already under his rule.

1931: The movement against the repressive Maharaja Hari Singh begins; it is brutally suppressed by the State forces. Hari Singh is part of a Hindu Dogra dynasty, ruling over a majority Muslim State.

1946: National Conference launches Quit Kashmir movement demanding abrogation of the Treaty of Amritsar and restoration of sovereignty to the people of Kashmir.

1947: On 15 August, the Indian subcontinent becomes independent. Kashmir signs Standstill Agreement with Pakistan. Rulers of Princely States are encouraged to accede their States to either Dominion – India or Pakistan.  The Maharaja of Kashmir delays his decision in an effort to remain independent.


In Spring 1947, internal revolt begins in the Poonch region against oppressive taxation under the recently imposed direct rule by the Maharaja; Poonch was a predominantly Muslim area. Maharaja strengthens the Sikh and Hindu garrisons in the Muslim areas and orders the Muslims to deposit arms with the police.

In August, Maharaja’s forces fire upon demonstrations in favour of Kashmir joining Pakistan, killing innocent people. The people of Poonch evacuate their families, cross over to Pakistan and return with arms.

In September, massacre of Muslims start in Jammu by armed bands of Hindus and Sikhs with active support from the State forces. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims flee Jammu.

On 22 October, thousands of Pathan tribesmen from Pakistan, recruited by the Poonch rebels, invade Kashmir along with the Poonch rebels, allegedly incensed by the atrocities against fellow Muslims in Poonch and Jammu. The tribesmen engage in looting and killing along the way. The tribesmen and the Poonch rebels are unofficially supported by various individuals and high ranking officials in Pakistan including Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan and Chief Minister of North West Frontier Province.

The Maharaja of the State of Jammu and Kashmir signs the Instrument of Accession (IOA) on 26 October, acceding the 75% majority Muslim region to the Indian Union, following invasion by the tribesmen from Pakistan, according to the 1948 Indian White Paper; India accepts the accession, regarding it provisional until such time as the will of the people can be ascertained by a plebiscite, since Kashmir was recognized as a disputed territory.

1948: India takes the Kashmir problem to the United Nations (UN) Security Council on 1 January.

1949: On 17 October, the Indian Constituent Assembly adopts Article 370 of the Constitution, ensuring a special status and internal autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir with Indian jurisdiction in Kashmir limited to the three areas agreed in the IOA, namely, defence, foreign affairs and communications.

1951: First post-independence elections. The UN passes a resolution to the effect that such elections do not substitute a plebiscite, because a plebiscite offers the option of choosing between India and Pakistan.

1953-54: The governments of India and Pakistan agree to appoint a Plebiscite Administrator by the end of April 1954. Abdullah procrastinates in confirming the accession of Kashmir to India. In August 1953, Abdullah is dismissed and arrested. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed is installed in power, who then gets the accession formally ratified in 1954.

1956-1959: On 30 October 1956, the state Constituent Assembly adopts a constitution for the state declaring it an integral part of the Indian Union.

1962: India and China go to war on account of a border dispute in the Ladakh region; At the end of war, China occupies 37,555 sq. kms from Indian held Kashmir at Aksai-chin and Demochok in Ladakh.

In Aug 1965, Pakistan undertakes Operation Gibraltar and sends in a few thousand armed infiltrators across the cease-fire line, and incidents of violence increase in Kashmir valley. A full Indo-Pakistani war breaks out which ends in a ceasefire on 23 September. In January 1966, Tashkent Declaration is signed by both countries agreeing to revert to pre-1965 position, under Russian mediation.

1971: India backs sends troops to East Pakistan to defend its secessionist movement against the repressive Pakistani army. Pakistan launches an attack from the West including Kashmir. India defeats Pakistan and East Pakistan becomes independent Bangladesh. The cease-fire line in Kashmir becomes the ‘Line of Control'(LOC).

1984: Indian and Pakistani armies engage in clashes in Siachen Glacier, a no-man’s land at an altitude of 20,000ft with extreme weather conditions, where the cease-fire line had been left undefined by 1972 Simla Agreement.

1987: Farooq Abdullah wins the elections. The Muslim United Front (MUF) accuses that the elections have been rigged. The MUF candidate Mohammad Yousuf Shah is imprisoned and he would later become Syed Salahuddin, chief of militant outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahedin.

1988: Protests begin in the Valley along with anti-India demonstrations, followed by police firing and curfew.

1989: Militancy increases with bomb blasts. On 8 December, Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of the Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed is kidnapped by the JKLF. She is released safely on 13 December in exchange for the release of five JKLF leaders.

1990: In January, Jagmohan is appointed as the Governor. Farooq Abdullah resigns. On 20 January, an estimated 100 people are killed when a large group of unarmed protesters are fired upon by the Indian troops at the Gawakadal bridge.

On March 1, an estimated one million take to the streets and more than forty people are killed in police firing. Massive protest marches by unarmed civilians continue in Srinagar.

The JKLF tries to explain that the killings of Pandits were not communal. The rise of new militant groups, some warnings in anonymous posters and some unexplained killings of innocent members of the community contribute to an atmosphere of insecurity for the Kashmiri Pandits.

Most of the estimated 162,500 Hindus in the Valley, including the entire Kashmiri Pandit community, flee in March.

1991 – 2000: In April 1991, Kashmiris hold anti-Pakistan demonstrations in Srinagar following killing of a JKLF area commander by the Hizb.

JKLF militancy declines. The JKLF faction led by Yasin Malik announces unilateral ceasefire in 1994 and pursues political agenda under the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC) umbrella, followed by Amanulla Khan’s JKLF faction’s ceasefire in 1997.

The most serious incident of a communal nature namely the murder of sixteen male Hindus in Kishtwar in August 1993 is condemned by the JKLF and the Hizb. According to official reports, 307 Hindus and 377 Muslims have been killed in the Doda and Rajouri districts as of 1998.

In June 1998 A Farooq Abdullah instituted Regional Autonomy Committee (RAC) proposes devolution of political power at regional, district, block and panchayats levels and allocation of funds according to an objective and equitable formula.

In June 2000, the State Autonomy Committee( SAC) Report is discussed and an autonomy resolution is adopted in the J&K Assembly. The SAC Report recommends restoration of Article 370 to pre-1953 status with Indian jurisdiction limited to defence, foreign affairs and communications. The Indian Cabinet rejects the autonomy recommendation in July.

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