Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir, often denoted by the acronym J&K is an Indian state situated at the north of the country. J&K shares its borders with states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in the south and countries like China and Pakistan, both of whom have occupied parts of the Kashmir and Ladakh regions illegally. The state is known for its eternal beauty, Himalayan Mountains a well as issues with Pakistan. The state has a special autonomy under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Some parts of Jammu and Kashmir has under Pakistan control since 1947 and the Aksai Chin region has been under Chinese control since 1962. The state has a Muslim majority and the major tourist spots in the state include Ladakh, Kashmir Valley and Jammu where numerous shrines are visited by thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year. Jammu is the summer capital of the state and Srinagar is the winter capital.

The Kashmir Conflict: The history of the conflict in the state can be traced back to the pre-independence era when the state was an independent princely state. After Independence, Pakistan's army attacked the state in 1947. After the attack from Pakistan, the then king of the state Maharaja Hari Singh requested Indian government to help him. The Indian government offered to help if the state became an integral part of the India. He accepted the offer and Indian troops went to J&K and managed to defend Kashmir and drive away the Pakistani raiders from the state. However, a part of the state remained in Pakistan's control and the areas were difficult to reach as it was surrounded by tall mountains. This led to Pakistan to control a small part of Kashmir whereas a large part remained with India. The United Nations tried to mitigate the conflict but the region was never de-militarized. India has long held the point that the agreements made were not honoured. Pakistan on the other hand maintains that the Muslim majority of the region makes Kashmir a part of Pakistan as per the Two Nation theory.

The conflict continues and the two countries have fought wars in 1965, 1971 and in 1999 in Kargil where India proved to be victorious in both wars. The Simla Agreement was signed in 1972 and agreed for a Line of Control (LOC) between their regions with the view of committing a peaceful resolution of the dispute. However, tensions kept rising in the region. Apart from the western front, the eastern region of Kashmir also has been in disputes with China and despite the agreements of the borders being signed by Great Britain, Tibet, Afghanistan and Russia, China never accepted these agreements and their army had entered the north east portion of Ladakh. India claimed that Aksai Chin belonged to Kashmir whereas China said that it was a part of the Xinjiang and it was an important link to Tibet and Xinjiang. China's construction of a road led to conflict and later it became one of the reasons for the 1962 Sino-India war.

In the late 70s, things were largely peaceful and Kashmir was functioning smoothly. However, after the death of Sheikh Abdullah in 1982, there was a rise in the discontent in the valley. A further rigging in the 1987 assembly elections cascaded into a violent uprising in Kashmir. The region has been in a complete turmoil since then with Pakistan arming and training terrorists to target Indian forces and assets. During the Atal Bihari government from 1999-2004, things were getting back to normalcy and a discussion with the separatist as well as Pakistan was initiated. The talks however were discontinued during the Kargil conflict when Pakistan troops attacked the Kargil district and other areas of LOC. Though the attack was termed by Pakistan as an independent attack by groups of separatists, India provided evidence of involvement of the Pakistani army. The conflict ended with the victory of India as the army and the air force were able to drive out the insurgents from the affected areas.

The on-going conflict has adversely affected tourism in the state, which used to be a large contributor to the economy of the region. The constant threat of militant attacks, army enclosures has created a sense of doom over the valley which was once considered as one of the prettiest valleys in the world. Many poets had commented on the natural beauty of the region and the world community has tried to guide mediation. While there have been constant talks, the conflict continues to stay deep. India maintains that until Pakistan does not stop cross border support of terrorist activities in the region, no agreement was possible. The recent Uri Attacks has further worsened the situation in the region and given rise to concern as both the countries are possess nuclear bombs.

Photo by Monson126 / Wikimedia Commons.

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