The Kashmir History

Recent happenings in Jammu and Kashmir have ignited a fierce debate on the plight of the Indian state. Before going into the debate of the demands of a certain section of the people in the valley, we should look into the matter a little more in detail.

It is often argued that the people of the valley are very passionate about their Kashmiri identity, perhaps even more than their national identity as an Indian. This was also one reason why the people of Kashmir never wanted to align with Pakistan during partition or even later. Islamic identity is something that they always loathed. They wanted their Kashmiri identity intact. And it could never be possible if they aligned with the neighbouring Islamic state.

When India got her independence on 15th August, 1947, Jammu and Kashmir was still an independent state ruled by the Hindu king Raja Hari Singh. On October 20 in the same year, Pakistani raiders entered Jammu and Kashmir territories. Indian troops were still not stationed in the state. The King asked the Indian Government to deploy her army and Indian troops were sent to the state. By then, Kashmir had already lost a large chunk of its territories– almost 55 percent.

The issue was taken to the United Nations. The UN called for a referendum. Kashmir had to either align with India or Pakistan. The plebiscite could never take place. The reason? Pakistani troops never withdrew. One of the conditions for referendum that the UN put was that the army should withdraw before the plebiscite takes place. Pakistani troops never withdrew and the referendum never took place.
For Kashmir, India was the only viable option which not only gave them a lot of autonomy but also protected them.

Those who are arguing for the state’s “independence” reason that the Kashmiris always felt very strong about their identity.
But, is it not true for other regions too? In fact, this is what Nehru called “Unity in Diversity”. Sub nationality is often stronger than nationality. Any community or region has several identities that they live with – religious, cultural, ethnic and so on. Look at South India. Don’t they feel very strong about their culture and identity? At times too detached from the center. Do we separate them from India’s map? The same applies to our brothers in north east India...Secession is not the appropriate answer.