Insurgency and Terror
The middle of 1989 saw the beginning of
a campaign of terror against the Kashmiri minorities by Muslim fundamentalists
and an insurgency against the Indian government. Within a year hundreds
of selective and random murders forced nearly all the Kashmiri Hindus
and Sikhs, who comprise less than 10 percent of the population of the
Vale, to leave their homes for refuge in the Jammu province and in Delhi.
The Jammu and Kashmir State is a union
of different ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. There are groups
in the Muslim-dominated Kashmir who have sought independence or a union
with Pakistan. The terror then represents a plan to eliminate minorities
that may not wish to break Kashmir's ties with India.
There are several Muslim
groups at work now with their own agendas. Not all of them espouse violence
and neither are all focused on political aims. It would be wrong, therefore,
to call the events in Kashmir as a struggle for freedom. As in a play
of shadows across a silk curtain, understanding the recent events of
Kashmir requires a broad knowledge of the plot and considerable imagination.
The main actors in this drama are the governments of India and Pakistan
and the various Muslim factions in the valley of Kashmir. The roles
of the Indian and the Pakistani governments are relatively clear. The
Indian government claims the territory of the State under the control
of Pakistan, but Nehru and his successor governments have let it be
known that it would be willing to accept the actual line of control
as the international border. Pakistan covets the Vale of Kashmir since
it has a Muslim majority, and Pakistan was shaped out of India in 1947
from the Muslim majority regions. The Muslim leadership of the Kashmir
valley has in the past four decades insisted on a certain isolation
from the rest of the Indian Union. This policy has been made a shibboleth
by many Indian national, left-wing parties for a belief in secularism.
India and Pakistan
have fought four wars for the control of the valley. In the first war,
during 1947-8, the fighting was confined to the State. The second war
in 1965 became a general conflict. The third war in 1971 began over
the revolt in the eastern wing of Pakistan but eventually engulfed Kashmir.
The most recent war has been fought by proxy through agents by Pakistan
in Kashmir. It started in 1989 and is still continuing.
No systematic studies
of Kashmiri Islam have been carried out. But its situation is very similar
to that of Indonesian Islam, and one might use the analysis of Clifford
Geertz (1960) and successors (Hefner 1985, Kipp and Rodgers 1987) to
understand its dynamics. We then have the classification of orthodox
, traditional , and karkun (urban, State employees) to parallel the
labels of santri, abangan, priyayi for Javanese Islam. The interesting
aspect of this classification is the fact that the karkun (or the priyayi
in Java) has an ethos outside the main religious framework. In Java
the priyayi are Muslims who hold on secretly to the Hindu-Buddhist values,
whereas in Kashmir the karkun have generally been the Hindus of the
valley. In other words, if the orthodox are the sayyids and the mullahs
, the traditional the peasants and the craftsmen, then the karkun are
the administrators, or the secular gentry. This classification is naturally
a great simplification, but it provides important insights.
Recent Kashmiri history
can be examined in terms of the dynamics between these three groups.
So long as Kashmir was isolated, the three groups lived in a certain
harmony amongst themselves. But from time to time forces from within
and outside have threatened this equilibrium. The prosperity of the
past four decades and modernization have spread the karkun and secular
ideals within the Islamic community. The orthodox group has felt challenged
by this phenomenon. This has stoked the fires within Kashmiri Islam
of the long-standing struggle between the champions of the orthodox
variety of doctrinaire Islam and the vast majority of adherents who
subscribe to a popular religion that is heavily based on the native
pre-Islamic traditions. The groups spearheading the current movement
in Kashmir seek to steer the population away from its Hindu roots.
This struggle for the
heart and soul of the Kashmiri Muslim against the insidious and growing
karkun culture explains the fury and intensity of the militants. The
orthodox have sought a revolution that has shown no mercy. So if the
insurgency has been against the Indian government and the Kashmiri Hindus,
it has also been directed against the dominant religious tradition of
the Kashmiri Muslims themselves.
The State of Jammu and Kashmir and the Enchanted Vale
Before the partition of the State at the
end of the 1947-9 war between India and Pakistan, it consisted of the
Vale of Kashmir, the province of Jammu, the districts of Ladakh and
Baltistan, and the Gilgit agency. The inhabitants of the Gilgit region
and the Kashmir valley speak languages that are classed as belonging
to the Dardic family of the Indo-Aryan language family; in Jammu Dogri,
of the Indo-Aryan family, predominates; and in Ladakh and Baltistan
the language is a variant of Tibetan. From the point of view of religion
also the State presents a mosaic. Gilgit, Kashmir, and Baltistan are
predominantly Muslim; Jammu is likewise Hindu, and Ladakh is Buddhist.
A little over half of the population of the State is concentrated in
the Vale of Kashmir which accounts for only 10 percent of the area,
and Ladakh, Gilgit, and Baltistan are very sparsely populated. The State
has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. The Vale itself
is about 84 miles long with a breadth of 20 to 25 miles and a mean altitude
of 5,600 feet above sea level (Drew 1875, Younghusband 1909). It is
famed for its beauty of lakes and mountain streams, chinars and poplars,
irises and roses. The Vale is also famed for a great tradition of scholarship,
music and arts, shawls and carpets (Singh 1983).
Of the different regions of the State,
we know the history of the Vale the best. This is due to the 12th century
Ra jatarangini of the historian Kalhana. Buddhism was introduced into
the Vale by the missionaries of the emperor Ashoka (269-232 B.C.). The
Kushan emperor Kanishka (c. 100 A.D.) convened a Buddhist council in
Kashmir which led to the foundation of Mahayana Buddhism. Kashmiri missionaries
played a leading role in the spread of Buddhism into Central Asia and
The Karkota dynasty
of the seventh and eighth centuries provides us with the first authentic
accounts of the government in the Vale. Lalitaditya (724-61) was the
outstanding king of this dynasty. Lalitaditya built the famed Sun temple
of Martand. In the 9th century Avantivarman built a grand capital south
of Srinagar whose ruins can still be seen. These centuries also saw
a flowering of Sanskrit learning and philosophy in Kashmir.
The rise of the Turko-Mongols
under Chingiz Khan and his successors brought considerable turmoil to
Central Asia after the 12th century. This disorder spilled into the
Vale. Powerful feudal lords vied for power and many adventurers from
The end of the Hindu
rule was part of a fascinating drama of intrigue and treachery. In 1320
Rinchana, a Tibetan prince, usurped the throne and sought to be converted
to Hinduism. Upon the refusal of the Brahmins to do so he embraced Islam.
After his death in 1323, his Hindu queen Kota Rani ruled until 1338
although the nominal king was her new husband Udayana, who was the younger
brother of Suhadeva, the king before Rinchana. On Udayana's death Kota
Rani ruled by herself for a few months until the power was seized by
Shah Mir, a native of Swat, who now established the first Muslim dynasty
in the Vale.
Islam spread quickly
in Kashmir. It appears that there were periods of persecution of Hindus
and their forcible conversion that interspersed longer periods of living
in harmony. The first such episode of forcible conversion was during
the reign of Sikandar (1389-1413) when, according to tradition, the
persecution was so severe that the Hindus either left the valley or
converted to Islam until only eleven Hindu families remained. But Sikandar's
son Zain-ul-Abidin (1420-1470), popularly known as Badshah or Great
King, was an enlightened ruler whose policy of religious tolerance persuaded
many Hindus to return to the Vale. But after Zain-ul-Abidin the pressure
on Hindus to convert to Islam continued. According to a tradition 24,000
Brahmin families were forced to convert during the stay in the valley
of Mir Shams-ud-din Iraqi, who arrived in 1492 to proselytize on behalf
of the Sufi order of Naqshabandis (Sender 1988).
The Vale was made a
part of the Mughal empire by Akbar in 1587. It soon became a favourite
summer resort for the Mughal rulers who built many gardens here. The
Mughal administration was fair and it brought much prosperity. But as
the Mughal empire weakened the governors assumed more power and some
of them reintroduced religious repression. In 1752, with the collapse
of the Mughal power, Kashmir came into the control of the Afghans. This
rule was perhaps the most tyrannical in the history of the land. The
Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, wrested Kashmir from the Afghans in 1819.
In 1846, following the defeat of the Sikhs by the British, Gulab Singh,
the Dogra ruler of Jammu purchased the Vale from the British.
The Dogras appear to
have maintained large degree of autonomy during the period of Muslim
rule in India. The Sikh kingdom of Lahore recognized Jammu to be a protected
state. In 1834, Gulab Singh conquered the independent state of Ladakh.
Baltistan, to the west of Ladakh, was defeated in 1840. In 1841 he attempted
to expand into Western Tibet but this campaign ended in disaster. The
Gilgit region was also inherited by the Dogras from the earlier Sikh
kingdom. Thus by the mid-nineteenth century the state of Jammu and Kashmir
had assumed its pre-partition form with the Dogra king as its ruler.
In the 1845 war between
the British and the Sikhs, Gulab Singh, although a feudatory of the
Sikhs, had not taken sides. The British recognized him as the independent
ruler of Jammu, Poonch, Ladakh, and Baltistan in a treaty signed in
1846. But when Gulab Singh purchased the Vale of Kashmir, he accepted
British paramountcy which meant the British right to control his foreign
The movement for independence
in British India spilled over to Kashmir as well. In the 1920's there
were demands for redress of grievances. There was further unrest in
the 1930's which prompted the Maharaja to take stern measures. However,
the disturbances continued and eventually the Maharaja accepted the
establishment of a legislative assembly. Sheikh Abdullah emerged as
the most prominent leader of this movement that led to this major reform.
The Maharaja appeared
to hold out for independence in August 1947 when India was partitioned.
But in late October of that year Pakistani tribesmen, led by military
officers in civilian clothes, tried to take the Vale by force. But instead
of quickly seizing Srinagar, as they were in position to do, they stopped
to plunder, murder, and rape. The Maharaja's hand was now forced and
he acceded to the Indian Union and asked for help to expel the invaders.
Sheikh Abdullah, who had been released from prison, endorsed this decision.
Soldiers of the Indian Army were now flown into Srinagar and this turned
the tide of the invasion. Pakistani regulars were now sent in and the
war raged throughout 1948. Finally, under the supervision of the United
Nations a cease fire was declared on 1 January 1949. Pakistan occupied
33000 square miles of the 86,500 square miles of Jammu and Kashmir State.
India held the Vale of Kashmir and most of Jammu province and Ladakh,
whereas Pakistan controlled parts of Jammu and Kashmir provinces, Baltistan,
and the Gilgit region.
Shaivistic and Bhakti Roots of Kashmiri Religion
To understand the religious divide in
the Vale it is necessary to go back to the Shaivite roots of the popular
religion. It is important to note that this tradition fits squarely
within the greater Indian tradition. The Rigveda presents a monistic
view of the universe where an understanding of the nature of consciousness
holds the key to the understanding of the world. This is further emphasized
in the Upanishads, the six philosophical schools, Buddhist and Jain
philosophy, the Shaivite and the Tantric systems. Of course this emphasis
varies. And sometimes seemingly different terms represent the same central
idea. For example the s unyata (void) of Madhyamika Buddhism and the
brahman (universe) of the Upanishads are forms of the monistic absolutes.
Two opposite metaphors thus represent the same central idea. Likewise
the dualism of Sa m khya and of the Jains is correctly seen as projection
of a monistic system of universal consciousness that manifests itself
in the categories of the physical world and sentience. A grand exposition
of the system, that explains how different perspective fit in the framework,
is contained in the Bhagavad Gi ta . Even the Iranian religion of Zarathushtra
may be seen as reformulation of the earlier Vedic tradition (Boyce 1975)
in the same sense that Vaishnavism is.
Kashmir Shaivism, reached its culmination
in the philosophy of Abhinavagupta and Kshemaraja (tenth to eleventh
century AD) (Chatterji 1914, Dyczkowski 1987, Gnoli 1968, Kaw 1969,
Pandey 1963, Jaideva Singh 1977, 1979, & 1989). Their trika (three-fold)
school argued that reality is represented by three categories: transcendental
( para ), material ( apara ), and a combination of these two ( para
para ) (Lakshman Jee 1988). This three-fold division is sometimes represented
in terms of the principles s iva, s akti, an u or pati, pa s a, pas
u . S iva represents the principle behind consciousness, s akti its
energy, and an u the material world. At the level of living beings pas
u is the individual who acts according to his conditioning, almost like
an animal, pa s a are the bonds that tie him to his behaviour, and pati
or pas upati (Lord of the Flock) is s iva personified whose knowledge
liberates the pas u and makes it possible for him to reach his potential.
The mind is viewed as a hierarchical (krama) collection of agents (
kula ) that perceives its true self spontaneously ( pratyabhijna ) with
a creative power that may be viewed as being pulsating (spanda) . This
last attribute recalls the spenta of the Zarathushtrian religion, where
this word represents the power of creation of Ahura Mazda . Thus Kashmir
Shaivism appears to have attempted a reconciliation of the Iranian religion
with its Vedic parent.
The Pratyabhijn a (recognition)
system is named after the book Stanzas on the Recognition of Ishvara
or Shiva which was written by Utpala (c 900-950). It appears Utpala
was developing the ideas introduced by his teacher Somananda who had
written the earlier Vision of Shiva . In Shaivism in general, Shiva
is the name for the absolute or transcendental consciousness. Ordinary
consciousness is bound by cognitive categories related to conditioned
behavior. By exploring the true springwells of ordinary consciousness
one comes to recognize its universal (Shiva). This brings the further
recognition that one is not a slave (pasu) of creation but its master
(pati) . In other words, an intuition of the true nature of one's consciousness
provides a perspective that is liberating.
For the spanda
system the usual starting point is the Aphorisms of Shiva due to Vasugupta
(c 800). His disciple Kallata is generally credited with the Stanzas
on Pulsation . According to this school the universal consciousness
pulsates of vibrates and this ebb and flow can be experienced by the
person who has recognized his true self.
a profound commentary on Utpala's Stanzas on Recognition. Shaivite philosophy
may be said to have reached its full flowering with his philosophy.
Abhinava also wrote more than sixty other works on tantra, poetics,
dramaturgy, and philosophy. His disciple Kshemaraja also wrote influential
works that dealt with the doctrines of both the schools of Recognition
and Pulsation. Abhinava emphasized the fact that all human creativity
reveals aspects of the seed consciousness. This explains his own interest
in drama, poetry, and aesthetics.
According to the ancient
doctrine of Samkhya physical reality may be represented in terms of
twenty-five categories. These categories relate to an everyday classification
of reality where prakrti may be likened to matter, and purusa to mind.
Kashmir Shaivism adds eleven new categories to this list. These categories
characterize different aspects of consciousness.
Any focus of consciousness
must first be circumscribed by coordinates of time and space. Next,
it is essential to select a process (out of the many defined) for attention.
The aspect of consciousness that makes one have a feeling of inclusiveness
with this process followed later by a sense of alienation is called
maya . Thus maya permits one, by a process of identification and detachment,
to obtain limited knowledge and to be creative.
How does consciousness
ebb and flow between an identity of self an an identity with the processes
of the universe? According to Shaivism, a higher category permits comprehension
of oneness and separation with equal clarity. Another allows a visualization
of the ideal universe. This permits one to move beyond mere comprehension
into a will to act. The final two categories deal with pure consciousness
by itself and the potential energy that leads to continuing transformation.
Pure awareness is not to be understood as similar to everyday awareness
of humans but rather as the underlying schema that the laws of nature
Shaiva psychology is
optimistic, scientific, secular, and liberating. At the personal level
it emphasizes reaching for the springwell of creativity (sakti) and
the schema underlying this creativity (siva). The journey leading to
this knowledge may be begun in a variety of ways: through sciences,
the arts, and creative social activities. But this exploration of the
outside world is to be taken as a means of uncovering the architecture
of the inner world. Shaiva psychology also reveals that the notion of
bhakti, which has played a central role in the shaping of the Indian
mind during the past millennium, may be given a focus related to a quest
The intellectual theories
of Kashmir Shaivism were given popular expression by the great mystic
Lalleshvari or Lalla (1335-1376). Her sayings, vakya , form the basis
of much of the Kashmiri world-view that emerged later. But from Lalla
onwards the emphasis did shift to the devotional aspects of Kashmir
Shaivism (Temple 1924, Odin 1994). The notion of recognition of one's
true self was exalted to the central role in the popular religion including
Kashmiri popular Islam that views her va kyas and the sayings of her
disciple Sheikh Nur-ud-din (1377-1438), Nanda Rishi , as sources of
spiritual wisdom. Two of Lalla's va kya that have been adapted from
Bamzai (1962) are given below:
Mahjur, Azad, and Zinda
Kaul and their successors have tried to forge a new sensibility in some
of their poems but the mystical and the lol continue to be the dominant
Sheikh Abdullah and the National Conference
Sheikh Abdullah (1905-1982), the towering
Kashmiri politician of the past half century, was a powerful advocate
of the Kashmiri Muslims. His political career was launched when he galvanized
his people to agitate for reforms in 1931 during the rule of Hari Singh
(Kaul 1985). Next year a political party, Muslim Conference, was formed
with Abdullah as its first president. Under pressure from the British
the Maharaja set up a Commission to study constitutional reforms in
the State. The recommendations of this Commission led to the establishment
of a legislative assembly of seventy five members, thirty three of whom
would be elected on a communal basis, and an extremely limited franchise.
When first convened in 1934, 19 of the 21 seats allotted to the Muslims
were won by the Muslim Conference.
Sheikh Abdullah was much influenced by
the leaders of the Indian National Congress, in particular Jawaharlal
Nehru, whom he first met in 1937. He had already worked closely with
the Kashmiri socialist Prem Nath Bazaz. Having by now recognized that
popular Islam represented his natural constituency he decided to enlarge
the scope of his political party. He stated his goal of forming a wide-based
political movement in a speech in 1938:
We must end communalism
by ceasing to think in terms of Muslims and non-Muslims when discussing
our political problems... We must open our doors to all such Hindus
and Sikhs, who like ourselves believe in the freedom of their country
from the shackles of an irresponsible rule. (Bamzai 1962, p. 664)
Sheikh Abdullah clearly
repudiated the sectarian policies of M.A. Jinnah and the Muslim League.
In 1939 the name of Muslim Conference was changed to National Conference
to emphasize its secular character. The orthodox Muslims did not forgive
Abdullah for this and they remained forever opposed to him.
Sheikh Abdullah walked
a tightrope to satisfy the many different groups. His speeches in mosques
used religious imagery to appeal to the orthodox Muslims and disarm
the influence of their leaders who challenged him. But his real hard-core
support lay amongst the Kashmiris who professed the popular variety
of the Islamic religion. His closeness to the leaders of the Congress
Party and his emphasis on secularism led to the revival of the Muslim
Conference by Ghulam Abbas. This revival also reflected the divide between
the Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri Muslims of the State. Ghulam Abbas came
from the Jammu province where the language is closely related to Punjabi.
Muslims of Jammu saw a convergence of their interests with those of
the Muslims of Punjab. On the other hand, Sheikh Abdullah was endeavouring
to define a special position for the Kashmiri Muslims.
Muslim League represented
the aspirations of the orthodox Islamic minority of the mullahs, the
Islamic intellectuals, and the descendents of the immigrants from Central
Asia and Iran. These groups felt that unless their apartness was given
a legal basis they might not be able to preserve their heritage as a
minority in a democratic India with its Hindu majority (Embree 1989,
Gilmartin 1988, Jalal 1990, Kak 1991, Shaikh 1989). Since Kashmiri Islam
is so radically different from orthodox Islam, the philosophy of Muslim
League could never have mass appeal in Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah worked
hard in the interests of the Kashmiri Islamic community in the emerging
political frameworks of Pakistan and India. He appears to have calculated
that Pakistan would eventually either imply orthodox Islam or Punjabi
Partition and the War of 1947-8
At the time of the partition of India
in 1947, only the Muslim Conference, which was based mainly in Jammu,
was in favour of the State's accession to Pakistan. On the other hand
Hindu Sabha in Jammu and the Maharaja were hoping that the State could
become independent. There were other groups in Jammu who wanted accession
to India, whereas Sheikh Abdullah and his National Conference also appeared
to be working for independence but given a choice between accession
to Pakistan or India they felt that they could preserve autonomy for
Kashmir within the secular Indian Union. The attack by the Pakistani
tribesmen forced the hand of the Maharaja. As the tribesmen reached
the outskirts of Srinagar, the Maharaja sought the aid of the Indian
army. He was advised that this could not be done unless the State acceded
to the Indian Union. Sheikh Abdullah accompanied the Maharaja's Minister
to Delhi to communicate to the Indian government acceptance by the Maharaja
of all Indian conditions. On 26 October 1947 the Maharaja signed the
Instrument of Accession.
Indian troops were flown in to protect
Srinagar on October 27. Soon the tribesmen and the Pakistani soldiers
were in retreat. By November 14 most of the Vale was in the control
of the Indian army. By winter the fighting had reached a stalemate and
on 31 December 1947 Nehru referred the Kashmir dispute to the United
In 1948 the war continued
at other fronts. Pakistan tried to cut off Ladakh from Kashmir but it
was unable to do so. In the autumn of 1948 the Indian army captured
Poonch in the Jammu province. The Indian army now threatened to cut
the Pakistan controlled area in two by reaching the international border
beyond Poonch. Pakistan now wished to enlarge the conflict by attacking
Jammu so that the State would be cut off from India. There was great
pressure on both countries to stop fighting and cease-fire took effect
on 1 January 1949.
The New Constitution and Quotas
In March 1948 Sheikh Abdullah was appointed
the prime minister of an interim government of the State. A Constituent
Assembly was convened in October 1951. The members of this Assembly
were elected and Sheikh Abdullah's National Conference won all its seats.
In 1952 Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah signed an agreement in
Delhi which specified that the State of Jammu and Kashmir, while part
of the Indian Union, yet enjoyed certain unique rights and privileges
within the Union. Thus citizens of the State had rights related to land
ownership within the State which were denied to Indians from outside
the State. This fact was recognized in Article 370 of the Indian Constitution
which was entitled " Temporary provisions with respect to the State
of Jammu and Kashmir" (Lamb 1966, Puri 1981).
Curiously the restriction of land ownership
to the hereditary State subjects goes back to Hari Singh in 1927. This
order also reserved government posts to such residents. Hari Singh had
become the Maharaja two years earlier and he was trying to assert the
autonomy of the State from the British paramountcy. But he was also
bowing to the interests of the Hindus from Kashmir and Jammu who did
not wish to have any competition for the various administrative positions
from people out of the State. At that time the Kashmiri Hindus, with
less than 2 per cent population of the State, constituted 80 percent
of all those who had received higher education. This policy of reservation
of jobs and restriction of land ownership was opposed by the Muslims
of the State and outside. (Puri 1981)
Sheikh Abdullah was
now trying to implement a programme that had been outlined by the National
Conference in 1944 in a manifesto entitled New Kashmir . This amounted
to a one-party government dedicated to social reform in the style of
the Soviet Union. Sweeping land reforms were implemented in 1953. But
there was also a suppression of dissent and increasing bureaucratization
with its attendent corruption. Sheikh Abdullah's goal still appeared
to be autonomy for the Kashmiris, but he was unwilling to allow real
democracy to the other regions of Jammu and Ladakh. Growing tensions
in the State led to his dismissal and detention in August 1953. He was
succeeded as prime minister of the State by Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed who
remained in power for 10 years.
The Constituent Assembly
decided upon a constitution which came into operation in January 1957.
But this constitution formalized inequities in the political structure
that had seeds in it for trouble down the road. The constituencies were
delimited in a fashion that perpetuated control by the Kashmiris of
the Vale (Jagmohan 1991). The typical constituency in the Vale had a
population of 50,000 whereas it was 85,000 in the Jammu region. For
elections to the Lok Sabha, Kashmir sent one representative for each
one million people, while Jammu was allocated one representative for
each 1.4 million people. Furthermore, the constituencies were so delimited
that the Kashmiri Hindus, in spite of their population of about 7% in
the Vale, could not get a single member elected on their own.
The fundamental rights
of the Indian Constitution were made applicable to the State in 1954;
these forbade recruitment to government jobs on communal and regional
considerations. The government of the State circumvented the law by
declaring all the residents of the State but the less than 3 percent
Kashmiri Hindus to be backward. Quotas were now fixed for recruitment
based on ethnic origin and religion both for recruitment and promotion
These policies split
up the people of the State in three main worlds: one Kashmiri Muslim,
the other Hindu from Jammu, and the third was that of the Kashmiri Pandit
who was now discriminated against. A system of quotas in schools, colleges,
and jobs was instituted. These quotas did not apply only at the entrance
levels of the government departments but also for promotion to higher
ranks. This system was so perverted that the candidates from the Muslim
community were not chosen according to their merit either. The bureaucratic
system that emerged in Kashmir must have been one of the most corrupt
in India and the whole world.
It must be realized
that the Muslims in Kashmir are not a monolithic community. Caste in
India is a phenomenon that transcends religion (Leach 1960). Muslims
in Kashmir, as Muslims elsewhere in India and Pakistan, are socially
divided into castes that have traditionally worked in different occupations.
Furthermore, the converts from the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, as well as
the descendents of the Turks, Afghans, and the Iranians have generally
maintained their identities and their status. Since performance and
skills were not determinants for hiring, the urban Muslim elites, who
were from a few select groups, were able to carve out a lions share
of government openings. The nature of the quota system makes it out
as an entitlement, so there was a great deal of resentment in the weaker
Muslim classes about this matter.
In the corrupt bureaucratic
world of the two Kashmirs, many of the small minority of the Hindus,
who were traditionally professionals, played the game according to the
new rules. Others simply left the State. And when the Central government
expanded its bureaucracy in the early seventies the Hindus joined in
large numbers. Having been systematically excluded from the State government
jobs, the Hindus used whatever access to power they had to obtain these
jobs. No wonder, therefore, that the Central government offices were
perceived as being Hindu as against the Muslim State government offices.
The division between
the Hindus and the Muslims of Kashmir was made worse by the Article
370 of the Indian Constitution which gives a special status to the Jammu
and Kashmir State. According to this Article, apart from defence, foreign
affairs, and communications the laws enacted by the Indian parliament
apply to the State only with the concurrence of the State government.
It is important to remember that this Article was supposed to be of
a transitional nature. But it came in handy to the karkun elite who
justified it by the rhetoric of socialism and kashmiriyat (Kashmiriness).
This law preserved the dominance of the Muslim elite classes in Kashmir
and they fought hard to preserve it. Politicians of the ruling party
made embrace of this Article to be axiomatic for a belief in secularism.
Anyone who questioned the wisdom of retention of Article 370 was dubbed
a communalist, an obscurantist, and worse.
The psychology related
to Article 370 made the Muslims feel that their State was not quite
a part of India. But this sense of fostered apartness was the basis
of the political alliances made throughout India by the Congress Party
to maintain political power. The government controlled media harped
on the themes of social justice and the remedy of quotas and set-asides.
Although this approach was useful for the short-term political ends
of the Congress Party and the National Conference, it increased social
discord and it kept out capital needed for economic development in the
The forces unleashed
by these policies led to a progressively greater alienation of the Muslims
in the State. Fundamentalists seized upon this disaffection and they
targeted the Kashmiri Hindus as being representatives of the unjust
order. They argued that Indian polity had sunk into great divisions
based on caste or regional origin and that the Indian system is not
blind to caste, ethnic background, or religion. The fundamentalist in
Kashmir said that if India is really not a secular state, as evidenced
by all the quotas and reservations based on different criteria, the
why should they not seek an Islamic, independent nation, or accession
The Accord of 1974 and After
After spending almost 14 years since 1953
in jail, Sheikh Abdullah was finally set free in 1968. The defeat of
Pakistan in the 1971 War and the consequent independence of Bangladesh
seemed to ring the death knell of the two-nation theory on which India
had been partitioned. This weakened the pro-Pakistan forces in the Valley
considerably. Meanwhile in 1972 India and Pakistan signed the Simla
Agreement which effectively superseded the U.N. role in Kashmir. Pakistan
agreed to the Indian demand that both countries will not resort to force
or threaten to use force in Kashmir and settle the issue bilaterally.
In other words, foreign interference, mediation or arbitration was to
be precluded. The 1949 cease-fire line in Jammu and Kashmir was redrawn
into a new Line of Control which meant that the U.N. observers posted
along the previous line became redundant.
In March 1972, Sheikh Abdullah reiterated
the finality of the State's accession to India. In November 1974 he
signed an accord with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi which basically signaled
his acceptance of the existing political realities. When he resumed
power as Chief Minister in February 1975 he was welcomed tumultuously
back in the State. He now revived the National Conference Party and
won a massive mandate in the elections held in 1977.
Sheikh Abdullah now
faced challenges from the leaders of Jammu and Ladakh who pressed for
autonomy for their regions. Furthermore he was harried by the party
of orthodox Islam as represented by Jamait-e-Islami. The growing strength
of the Jamait was no doubt due to the growing fundamentalism in Islamic
societies around the world after the Iranian revolution. Sheikh Abdullah
fought the Jamait for not respecting the traditions of Kashmiri Islam.
Sheikh Abdullah died
in 1982. He was succeeded as Chief Minister by his son Farooq, who called
Assembly elections in 1983 and won a majority. In July 1984 Indira Gandhi
dismissed Farooq's government for mis-administration and installed G.M.
Shah as the Chief Minister of a minority government. Shah, who was Farooq's
brother-in-law and a rival for the leadership of the National Conference
on Sheikh Abdullah's death, was widely believed to represent the pro-Pakistan
group in the party. The administration became even more corrupt during
his tenure. Now followed an episode of Central rule to be succeeded
by a return of Farooq.
The new administration
of Farooq Abdullah was as inept as the first one. The intrigues of the
Congress Party increased the distance between the ruling clique and
the people. Meanwhile, the pro-Pakistani elements subverted most government
institutions. Then between July and December 1989 the Farooq Abdullah
government released seventy hardcore terrorists. Soon civil administration
Pakistani Direction of the Insurgency
With the Soviet Union taking sides in
the Afghanistan civil war that began in December 1979, Pakistan became
strategically very important to the U.S. President Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan
decided to aid the anti-communist Afghans who were fighting the Soviet
troops. In 1981 Pakistan received a six year aid package from the United
States worth several billion dollars. In addition the U.S. opened a
pipeline through which sophisticated weaponry flowed to the Afghan mujahiddin
operating from their headquarters in Peshawar. More arms and ammunition
came from China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. The field losses as well as
a deteriorating home economy eventually forced the Soviet Union to sign
an agreement in April 1988 to withdraw from Afghanistan by mid-February
This great success emboldened Zia now
to try force to pry Kashmir out of Indian control. The arms and equipment
that had flowed to the Afghan mujahiddin had been channeled by the Inter-Services
Intelligence (ISI). The ISI was now asked to plan and coordinate
an insurgency in Kashmir. This was to complement the training of the
Sikh militants which had been managed by the ISI for several years.
Although Zia died in
a plane crash in August 1988, his successors pressed on with management
of the insurgency under the control of the ISI. This involved running
training camps for the militants, supply of arms and intelligence. This
operation was launched with full intensity as the weak administration
of Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh took office in Delhi in late
1989. Kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations and a literal abdication
of governance by the Farooq Abdullah ministry soon virtually achieved
the administrative and psychological severance of the valley from India.
Central rule was imposed
on the State in January 1990. But with the money provided by Pakistan
and Saudi Arabia and the arms flowing in from the ISI warehouses the
terror unleashed on the minority communities of the Vale continued.
Very soon the Hindus and the Sikhs had to flee to Jammu and Delhi for
the safety of refugee camps. The terrorist groups were now hoping for
a quick conclusion to their campaign. Banks, post offices, schools,
colleges, cinema halls were all forced to be shut down. Prime Minister
Benazir Bhutto talked of a thousand year war to liberate Kashmir.
Refugees from the Vale
The terror has forced about 250,000 Kashmiris
to seek refuge out of the Vale. The Indian government is waiting for
the law and order situation to return to what it was in before the mass
exodus began in late 1989. A carrot and stick policy has been used to
control the insurgency. But the government does not appear to have done
any rethinking of its basic Kashmir policy.
In refugee camps the living conditions
are very poor. And now the exiles seek jobs wherever they can find them,
howsoever far from their homes that they have been compelled to abandon.
Can that unique tradition and culture that the Kashmiris have preserved
and reinvented with each generation be saved once they are scattered
in permanent exile out of the valley?
The government of India
has tried to play down the refugee problem since it smacks of religious
strife. Many Muslims have also been killed, and others have had to flee
the valley. Recently the government of India has raised this question
of continuing murder of innocent civilians by terrorists with sanctuaries
in Pakistan in international forums. The U.S. government has placed
Pakistan on watch as one of the countries that sponsor terrorism.
The crisis in Kashmir
should not be viewed as arising just from the alleged rigging of the
last elections, the mis-administration of the Farooq Abdullah years,
and the Islamic fundamentalism that is sweeping the world. This is the
analysis that has been embraced by the officials of the government of
India. While this analysis has a ring of truth to it, it is misleading.
Events of the eighties have undoubtedly contributed to the disaffection
in the valley, but the seeds of separation were laid by much older policies
that are still in force.
The question of the
alienation of the Kashmiri Muslims has not been properly analyzed. Part
of this alienation has a linguistic basis. Although the Kashmiri language
is different from the other north Indian languages, all educated Kashmiris
are bilingual. The second language of choice for the Kashmiri Muslims
is Persianized Urdu. This sets them apart from the residents of Jammu
or Kashmiri Hindus who have generally adopted Sanskritized Hindi as
the second language. Another contributing factor is Islamic fundamentalism.
But this alienation has been made worse by the increasing bureaucratization
of Indian life which causes untold frustrations. A long-term solution
to the Kashmir problem would require more decentralization that proceeds
down to the city and the village level. But this restructuring must
also sweep aside anachronistic statutes such as Article 370 as well
as other laws that discriminate based on religion and caste.
Conditions for economic
development and local business initiatives will have to be improved.
This will require clipping the wings of the corrupt bureaucracy and
elimination of the system of quotas and licenses. Affirmative action
should be based solely on economic considerations. That is the only
way traditionally disadvantaged Muslim groups will be able to benefit
from new development.
The bureaucratic style
of administration that has evolved in India is based on a reactive approach
to problems. Many of the frustrations that the citizen, be he Hindu
or Muslim, feels are due to excessive centralization. In the style of
government that has been followed in Delhi and in Srinagar, people have
considered all problems in political terms alone; this is natural given
that the government runs the schools, the banks, the colleges, and considerable
part of business and industry.
A Democratic Kashmir
The international situation which emboldened
Pakistan to exploit the disaffection in Kashmir to organize an insurgency
has passed. With the collapse of the Soviet Union the strategic importance
of Pakistan to the West is much reduced. Pakistan's own internal problems
will require increasing attention from its leaders. It is, therefore,
possible to look beyond the current situation and visualize a return
to near normalcy in the Vale where most of the refugees will be able
to return to their homes.
In the current geopolitical situation
India cannot let go of the Kashmir valley because of its strategic importance.
Culturally there are no reasons that the Kashmiris should feel more
bound to Pakistan than India, when India has about as many Muslims as
Pakistan and India's multicultural and secular society promises more
freedom. But Kashmir's relationship to India will become strong only
if real democracy comes into the Vale. This will require that schools,
colleges, banks, and industry be increasingly privatized. Such a privatization
will weave a thousand different links between organizations in Kashmir
and the rest of India. But this also means that Kashmir should get rid
of restrictive laws of land ownership and citizenship which have discouraged
outside investment. A modern State should treat all its citizens equally,
irrespective of caste, religion, and ethnic origin. The Jammu and Kashmir
government, with the tacit approval of the Centre, has not done this
in the past. The policies of quotas have served to divide the citizenry
based on ethnic and religious basis. Economic links forged between Kashmiris
and Indians outside the Vale would eventually determine the nature of
According to the 1971 census the Kashmir valley had a non-Muslim population
of 6 percent. However, about 250,000 refugees, which is more than 7
percent of the Vale's current estimated population, have registered
with government agencies. According to Facts Speak , Panun Kashmir,
Jammu the number of migrants was 242,758 in 53,750 families at the end
of November 1990. India Today , January 15, 1991 speaks of more than
55,000 migrant families. It appears, therefore, that the 1971 census
might have undercounted the population of the minorities in the Vale.
Legal Documents of Kashmir.
Ahmad, Aziz. 1969. An Intellectual History of Islam in India. Edinburgh:Edinburgh
Bamzai, P.N.K. 1962. A History of Kashmir . Delhi: Metropolitan Book
Boyce, M. 1975. A History of
Zoroastrianism . Leiden: E.J. Brill.
Chatterji, J.C. 1914. Kashmir
Shaivaism . Srinagar; Reprint 1986, SUNY Press, Albany.
Drew, Frederic. 1875. The Jummoo
and Kashmir Territories . London: Edward Stanford. Reprinted 1976, Graz,
Dyczkowski, M.S.G. 1987. The
Doctrine of Vibration . Albany, SUNY Press.
Embree, Ainslie T. 1989. Imagining
India. Essays on Indian History. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Fox, Richard G. 1985. Lions
of the Punjab: Culture in the Making . Berkeley: University of California
Geertz, Clifford. 1960. The
Religion of Java . The Free Press of Glencoe.
Gilmartin, David. 1988. Empire
and Islam . Berkeley: University of California Press.
Gnoli, R. 1968. The Aesthetic
Experience According to Abhinavagupta. Benaras: Chowkhamba.
Heesterman, J.C. 1985. The
Inner Conflict of Tradition . Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Hefner, R.W. 1985. Hindu Javanese:
Tengger Tradition and Islam . Princeton University Press.
Jagmohan. 1991. My Frozen Turbulence
in Kashmir . New Delhi: Allied.
Jalal, Ayesha. 1990. The State
of Martial Rule. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kachru, B.B. 1981. Kashmiri
Literature. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.
Kak, S.C. 1990. Religion and
Politics in East Punjab. Journal of Social, Political, and Economic
Studies. 15, 435-456.
Kak, S.C. 1991. The Politics
of Quotas in South Asia. Journal of Social, Political, and Economic
Studies. 16, 401-421.
Kaul, R.N. 1985. Sheikh Mohammad
Abdullah . New Delhi: Sterling Publishers.
Kaw, R.K. 1967. The Doctrine
of Recognition . Hoshiarpur: Vishveshvaranand Institute.
Kipp, R.S. and Rodgers, S.
1987. (Editors) Indonesian Religions in Transitions . Tucson: University
of Arizona Press.
Lakshman Jee, Swami. 1988.
Kashmir Shaivism . Albany: State University of New York Press.
Lamb, A. 1966. The Kashmir
Problem . London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Leach, E.R. 1960. Aspects of
Caste in South India, Ceylon and North-West Pakistan . Cambridge: Cambridge
Madan, T.N. 1989. Family and
Kinship: A study of the Pandits of Rural Kashmir . Delhi: Oxford University
Mujeeb, M. 1967. The Indian
Muslims. London: George Allen & Unwin.
Odin, Jaishree 1994. Lalla:
The Woman and the Poet. (Book in preparation)
Pandey, K.C. 1963. Abhinavagupta:
An Historical and Philosophical Study. Benaras: Chowkhamba.
Puri, Balraj. 1981. Jammu and
Kashmir: Triumph and Tragedy of Indian Federalisation. New Delhi: Sterling
Puri, Balraj. 1983. Simmering
Volcano: Study of Jammu's Relations with Kashmir. New Delhi: Sterling
Sender, Henny. 1988. The Kashmiri
Pandits. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Shaikh, Farzana. 1989. Community
and Consensus in Islam. Cambridge Cambridge University Press.
Singh, Jaideva. 1977. Pratyabhijnahrdayam
. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
Singh, Jaideva. 1979. Vijnanabhairava
or Divine Consciousness . Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
Singh, Jaideva. 1989. Abhinavagupta:
A Trident of Wisdom . State University of New York Press.
Singh, Raghubir 1983. Kashmir:
Garden of the Himalayas . London: Thames and Hudson.
Stein, M.A. 1979. (reprint)
Kalhana's Rajatarangini: A Chronicle of the Kings of Kashmir . Delhi:
Sufi, G.M.D. 1948-9. Kashir:
Being a History of Kashmir from the Earliest Times to Our Own. Lahore:
University of the Panjab. Reprinted Delhi, 1974.
Temple, R.C. 1924. The Word
of Lalla the Prophetess . Cambridge University Press.
Younghusband, F. 1909. Kashmir.
London: Adam & Charles Black.
© 2001 Kashmir
Information Network. All Rights Reserved.