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date: 17 April 2024

Kashmir: From Princely State to Insurgencyfree

Kashmir: From Princely State to Insurgencyfree

  • Mridu RaiMridu RaiDepartment of History, Presidency University


Paradise lost, on fire, or on a river of hell: purple prose abounds in descriptions of Kashmir today. But in this instance, the hyperbole may be alarmingly close to reality. Since 1989–1990, Kashmir (i.e., the Valley rather than the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir for which the name is often informally used) has been a battleground pitting a popularly backed insurgency—sometimes accompanied by armed militancy—against Indian state dominance undergirded by one of the highest concentrations of armed forces among civilians in the world. The armed forces are about 700,000 strong in the Valley, producing an astonishing average of one soldier for every eleven civilians. A death toll in calamitous numbers (perhaps 70,000 killed and 8,000 “disappeared”, many of whom are presumed dead) countless instances of rape and torture, and the declining health of civil liberties as of individuals in Kashmir have many worried.

Most accounts seeking to explain this state of affairs begin around August 14–15, 1947. On this day were born not only the two nation-states of India and Pakistan but also the rival claims of both to Kashmir. If Kashmir’s troubles were only about the Indo-Pakistani territorial contestation, 1947 would be where to start. However, the “Kashmir Problem” encompasses other contentious aspects that have drawn less attention and whose roots are buried deeper in time. These include a crisis of legitimate governance and the interweaving of religion and politics—all playing out in the midst of contested relations between different loci of central and local power. A narrow focus on the year 1947 alone, moreover, holds Kashmir’s history hostage to Indian and Pakistani official narratives. This is evident in the work of countless political scientists and policy experts. New scholarship has pushed historical examination to go further back by at least a century, if not more, to capture vital transformations in the understandings of sovereignty, territoriality, and the legitimacy to rule that shaped Kashmiris well before 1947. These changes cast long shadows that reach into the present.


  • Citizenship and National Identity/Nationalism
  • Political
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Religion
  • South Asia


Lying in the northern reaches of the Indian subcontinent, the valley of Kashmir is several mountain ranges surrounding an oval bowl that is so small—about ninety miles long—there are points from which some say it can be seen in its entirety. Legend ascribes its origins to the draining of a vast lake by the ancient civilization-bearing sage Kashyap. The valley that formed was named after him.

Throughout its history, Kashmir has been, despite its encircling mountains, plugged into the large domains of ideas, networks of trade, and the polities surrounding it including, besides the Indian subcontinent, what is modern-day Afghanistan, Central Asia, Tibet, and China. Its political history saw a long period of “autochthonous” rule followed by incorporation, at different points in time, into the Mughal, Afghan, and Sikh empires. In 1846 the English East India Company created a new state by bringing together Kashmir, Jammu, Ladakh, Gilgit, and Baltistan and placing them under a single maharaja. Poonch was placed under his suzerainty. There is little in common—ethnically, linguistically, or in terms of religious composition—between most of these areas to justify conjoining them other than the British geopolitical objectives they served.

When the United Nations brokered a ceasefire in January 1949 to end the first war between India and Pakistan begun in October 1947, India was left in control of two-thirds of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). This included almost the entire Kashmir Valley, most of Jammu, part of Poonch, and most of Ladakh. Pakistan controlled one-third of the former state including a small tranche of Kashmir Valley (Muzaffarad district), western Jammu, the other part of Poonch, Gilgit, and Baltistan.

In common usage the name Kashmir connotes more than the valley, encompassing all the territories just mentioned. This metonymic status has a colonial past. Indeed, even as they enthroned rulers from Jammu as maharajas, it was possession of Kashmir that gave the state its prestige and identity in British eyes. But the politics in all of its parts indubitably weighed on each other, entwined as they became under princely rule and remained thereafter.

This essay’s focus is on the long-term context of the nearly three decades long insurgency—that began in 1989—against Indian state domination. This compels a concentration on Kashmir, by which is meant here only the valley of Kashmir. It is Kashmiris who are the insurgent subjects of the state, demanding autonomy or separation from India or, in fewer cases, merger with Pakistan. The Indian center’s armed and unarmed responses have been fixated on quelling dissidence exclusively in Kashmir. While its repressive counterinsurgency laws technically apply to the entire state of J&K, it is in the Valley alone that they have been deployed. What follows, therefore, is a brush-strokes history of politics in Indian-controlled Kashmir from 1846 to the present. Reflecting current practice, the names Kashmir and the Valley are used interchangeably here.

Creating the Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir

Ranjit Singh, the powerful founder of the Sikh kingdom centered in Lahore, died in 1839. The passing of the “Lion of the Punjab” triggered factional infighting at the court and within the army. This endangered the frontier with Afghanistan whose stability the company considered vital to ward off any possible Russian advance into their empire. These new circumstances, led to the first Anglo-Sikh war, which began in 1845. While hostilities ended with Sikh defeat on February 10, 1846, the company’s victory was pyrrhic and its resources too strained to absorb all of Ranjit Singh’s territories. Rather than acquire the volatile border with Afghanistan and mountainous areas such as Kashmir or Ladakh, which were too costly to defend or control, the British limited themselves to maintaining a young puppet in Lahore and parceling out portions of the Sikh kingdom to an ally who would secure the strategically trickier areas. They chose Gulab Singh, until then the raja of Jammu (anointed by Ranjit Singh in 1822) and a powerful subordinate of the Sikh maharaja. He had helped the company by remaining neutral rather than intervening on his Sikh overlord’s side during the war. The Treaty of Amritsar of March 16, 1846, rewarded Gulab Singh by making him maharaja of the newly formed kingdom now named Jammu and Kashmir.

It also transferred “forever” into Gulab’s “independent possession” and of his male heirs “all the hilly or mountainous country” east of the river Indus and west of the Ravi.1 What was also altered critically at the same time as Kashmir was handed to the Dogras was the nature of the political world they had functioned in. The British understood the Treaty of Amritsar to transfer the rights, titles, and interests the Sikh government had possessed in the territories concerned into their own hands. These were then handed over, along with territory, “completely and absolutely” to Maharaja Gulab Singh. Before this intervention, however, rights and interests had never been owned absolutely and exclusively, nor considered transferable in the manner the British understood it. Instead, they had been arranged along a hierarchy that recognized superior and inferior rights established and maintained through accommodative and negotiated processes. Power at all levels was held by mutual recognition, this reciprocity protecting the rights of subordinates from being completely subsumed by their overlords. Furthermore, sovereignty in precolonial India had operated in overlapping polities in which rulers and officials of one dominion could exercise various degrees of influence in another. This architecture of power, authority, and sovereignty had ensured fluidity in both the content and the boundaries of kingships.

The Treaty of Amritsar drew the curtains on this world of “nested authority.” As the British moved to strengthen their new ally’s hands, the structure of relations between superior and subordinate levels of the freshly minted polity was taken apart. Within the state, the British vested solely in the person of the maharaja a lesser version of their own sovereignty; the latter was paramount in the wider imperial arena. And concerned to tidy up the clutter left behind from older overlapping sovereignties, the colonial state inaugurated notions novel in India, of a subordinate “native” sovereignty circumscribed by rigidly demarcated territorial frontiers.

Making a Hindu State in Kashmir

Created purely to meet imperial geopolitical requirements, their own sense of moral prestige required the British to ensure this arbitrary feat of state making be seen as lawful. Given the newness of Dogra rule in all its territories except Jammu, this legitimacy was sought by fashioning the Dogras into “traditional” Hindu rulers generically identified as “original” Indian sovereigns.

While their sovereignty may have been territorially circumscribed and relegated to a subordinate level, the Dogra rulers were able to turn aspects of this transformation to their own advantage. From the second maharaja Ranbir Singh’s (r. 1856–1885) perspective, as a recognized ruler of his state, he was given a territory whose frontiers could not err into British domains. At the same time, he was assured of his right to rule, founded on his being a “traditional” Rajput-Hindu ruler, over this territory and its populace. Within these parameters, Ranbir Singh’s efforts were directed toward matching the political dominion allowed him and the religious identity assigned to him within the territories marked for him.

The Dogras mined in rather general ways “older” stores of Hindu symbolism “located” outside the territorial confines of their fiefdom. Besides nurturing Hindu religious practice within their own state, they became patrons of worship at Haridwar and Benares, the great Hindu sacred centers of northern India. The promotion of Sanskrit learning similarly provided access to a prestigious “Hindu” symbol. By the end of the 19th century, the Kashmiri political landscape had not only been reimagined as Hindu but also as having always been Hindu, justifying British backing of the Dogras as an act of legitimate “restoration.”

When Ranbir Singh died in 1885, the religious boundaries of the Hindu faith united the provinces of Jammu and Kashmir in a state that not only had a Hindu ruler but that also witnessed new degrees of control over a territorialized Hindu religious arena of patronage and worship. But such firm Dogra control also meant that the competitive nature of precolonial patterns of patronage that had ensured a measure of deference to the Muslim religious domain in Kashmir disappeared. And with this went the political erasure of the vast proportion of Muslims in the state. The marginalization of Kashmiri Muslims and their exclusion—barring a small elite—from power-sharing arrangements was possible because they became peripheral to the legitimating devices instated by the Dogras and their British overlords. The British guarantee of Hindu-Dogra sovereignty vis a vis its subjects staved the need for the ruler to seek legitimacy through the older practice of granting patronage to all his diverse subject population.

In conjuring the trappings of a specifically Hindu sovereignty, the Dogras courted at least one segment of Kashmiris: the minority Pandits (forming about 4 percent of the population until 1989, against the 95 percent Muslim population). Like its predecessors, the Dogra state recruited literate Pandits in large numbers to run their administration in the middle to lower rungs. These appointments, especially in the lucrative revenue department, translated into considerable power for a substantial segment of the Pandit community. A distinct effort was made also to cement this partnership by bringing closer together, within the broader domain of “Hinduism,” the Dogra Vishnu-centered practices and the Pandits’ Shiva- and Shakta-oriented worship.2

It was not until the aftermath of Hindu-Muslim “riots” in 1931, that Hindu claims to primacy in Kashmir were challenged. The British-appointed B. J. Glancy Commission was tasked with examining a wide array of economic and political grievances believed to have caused the disturbances. Its report of 1932 included a criticism of the Kashmir state’s partisan functioning in favor of its Hindu subjects to the neglect of Muslims. The work of the state’s archaeological and research department, inter alia, illustrated this. Glancy’s report stated bluntly that upholding Kashmiri Pandit claims to “a large number of buildings . . . at one time temples” but later transformed into Muslim places of worship was “impracticable” and “out of the question.” In light of “mass conversions” to Islam, as had occurred in Kashmir, it was “only natural that a number of sacred buildings devoted to the observances of one particular faith should have converted to the use of another religion.”3 Strikingly, Glancy had invalidated the principle of “first peoples” on the basis of which the Dogras and Pandits had re-imagined Kashmir as “originally” Hindu. Drawing attention to mass conversions re-inscribed Muslims into their history and region. And, perhaps unconsciously, it also redefined the contemporary territory of Kashmir as Muslim. However, this recognition of at least the equal claims of Muslims was soon drowned out by the assertion of Indian nationalism’s sole claim to every inch of land from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

Kashmir Between India and Pakistan

In mid-August 1947, the departing British partitioned their Indian empire into the nation-states of India and Pakistan. Less than three months after their creation, both countries trained their guns on each other in their first war to prosecute their competing claims to Kashmir.

Kashmir’s importance to Pakistani national identity is captured by its description of it as the country’s shah rag (jugular vein). It is also the letter “K” in the acronym coined in 1933 that names the country. Had J&K not been a princely state, the British would almost certainly have awarded it to Pakistan on the principles of partition applied to British Indian provinces: not only did the state have a three-quarter majority (77%) of Muslims, the latter formed majorities in all its provinces. Its three mountain-fed rivers—the Indus, Jhelum, and the Chenab—flow through Pakistan to join the Arabian Sea. Its only all-weather roads at the time led to western Punjab and the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan.4

Pakistan has fought three wars with India over Kashmir (in 1947–1949, 1965 and 1999). The last two of these, along with the India-Pakistan war of 1971, ended with the restoration (more or less) of the 1949 cease-fire line, rechristened the Line of Control (LoC) in 1972. Pakistan’s failure to make any territorial gains in Kashmir has not stopped it describing the Kashmir problem as the “unfinished agenda of Partition,” nor has it extinguished the impulse to prise Kashmir from India. Over the years, elements in the establishment have also provided, under the euphemistic rubric of “moral support,” finances, arms, training, and safe haven to Kashmiri fighters. And Pakistan-based terrorist outfits, such as the Lashkar-e Taiyyaba (LeT) and the Jaish-e Muhammad (JM), have supplied manpower to fight ostensibly for Kashmiri freedom. Another armed group—the Hizbul Mujahidin (HM)—though largely Kashmiri in its membership, is headquartered in Pakistan. In the context of political discontent in Indian-administered Kashmir, Pakistan has found ample opportunities for interference that it has exploited ever since 1947. However, the oft-asserted contention that Pakistan has created the turmoil in Kashmir ab nihilio is unconvincing.

The Indian government’s claim to Kashmir was built on a document signed by Hari Singh (r. 1925–1949), the last maharaja of J&K. It should also be added that if possession of Kashmir was important to Pakistan’s national ideology in religious ways, it was equally vital to fulfilling India’s national self-definition along lines tied just as much to religious identity. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, proclaimed in 1953: “Kashmir is symbolic as it illustrates that we are a secular State, that Kashmir, with a large majority of Muslims, has nevertheless, of its own free will, wished to be associated with India.”5 Paradoxically, then, emphasizing the Muslim-ness of Kashmir became instrumental to burnishing India’s secularity. But when this Muslim-ness began to exceed state ascription and was reappropriated as the idiom of resistance among Kashmiris, it had to be declared illegitimate and erased.

The various steps that attended J&K’s accession to India on October 26, 1947, have been widely debated, some observers suggesting Nehru strong armed the maharaja into declaring for his country. Before signing the instrument of accession, Hari Singh had sought to explore the best terms available from India and Pakistan—since his princedom shared borders with both, he could go either way. He even contemplated independence. His vacillations ended when Pakistan attempted to force the issue by instigating a “tribal invasion” into Kashmir in October. One scholar has recently suggested it was an earlier internal revolt—in summer 1947—by Muslims in Poonch against the maharaja’s misrule, aimed also at preempting the latter’s anticipated accession to India, that set the wheels moving; this uprising, not only antedated but also enabled the Pakistani-sponsored tribal invasion.6 Whatever the case, the maharaja needed Nehru’s help to quell these various forces; that succor was conditional on his first officially joining the Indian union.

Kashmir’s accession was clearly understood at the time to be provisional. The day after Hari Singh signed the instrument, Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India and its first governor general, made clear to the maharaja that the document would have to be ratified by a “reference to the people” of his state. On November 2, 1947, Nehru upheld this commitment on behalf of the Indian government through his “pledge . . . not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world . . . [to] hold a referendum under international auspices such as the United Nations” to confirm the wishes of Kashmiris on joining India rather than Pakistan.7 Upon India’s referring the matter of alleged Pakistani interference in Kashmir to the United Nations in January 1948, the latter’s security council established the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan under whose authority, subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions, a plebiscite would be organized for all the people of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir to choose a future with India or Pakistan. Independence was only a nominal option. Despite reiterated security council resolutions calling for it between 1948 and 1957, and repeated Kashmiri demands for it over the last seventy years, the plebiscite remains a paper-promise.

When pressed about the unfulfilled pledge, Indian governments have referred to the legality of the instrument of accession. While Hari Singh’s accession brought Kashmir into India, its terms restricted New Delhi’s jurisdiction over Kashmir to matters of foreign affairs, defense, currency, and communications. This “statutory autonomy” was later inserted into India’s constitution as Article 370. But the autonomy covenanted in Article 370 was unremittingly abraded beginning in 1953. Today, its main role is that of a red flag that provokes, on the one hand, the anger of Kashmiris who see betrayal in its nullity, and on the other, the ire of Hindu right-wing nationalists who see in it the “appeasement” of Kashmiris, read as Muslims, separatists, and traitors.

Hollowing Out Article 370

Client Kashmiri politicians, prepared to do New Delhi’s bidding, played their part in whittling down Article 370. In this sense, the relationship between politicians in New Delhi and Jammu/Srinagar after 1947 came to imitate that between the Dogra rulers and the British paramount government. Unrepresentative rulers in the region were propped up and legitimated externally by the center so long as they did not question their government overseers in Delhi. This meant, above all, progressively silencing all talk of plebiscites and the provisional nature of the accession.

In 1947 Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, who had sharpened his political skills in the anti-Dogra movement of the 1930s, was reputedly the most respected leader in the Valley (not so much in the other regions). In 1932 he had founded the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, the word “Muslim” having been replaced by “National” in 1939 to emphasize its secular orientation. At its inception there had been an unofficial understanding that the party would stay away from both the Indian National Congress (Congress) and the All India Muslim League (League), which were the two main political parties in British India. By the mid-1940s and especially after the Second World War, as the Raj began preparations for departure such political agnosticism became impracticable. Until 1947, neither of the two major nationalist parties had any formal presence in princely India, but both were aware that with the lapse of paramountcy, these hitherto quasi-sovereign areas would be up for grabs.

In Kashmir, Abdullah—speaking for his countrymen—found the League’s Pakistan idea insufficiently accommodating of Kashmiri distinctiveness within Muslim commonality. The Congress’s, especially Nehru’s, sympathy and indirect support for the popular movement against the maharaja led by Sheikh Abdullah was manifest. Much has been made of the similarities between Abdullah and Nehru as political personalities. But, as Balraj Puri detected, there was a portentous incongruity between their ideas of nationalism: Nehru and the Congress had long insisted on a monopoly of national legitimacy, while Abdullah spoke for a Kashmiri identity, no matter how constructed, and a political arrangement that would allow it to flourish. “Kashmiri nationalists tended to treat Indian nationalism as their ally while Indian nationalists considered Kashmiris to be their part.”8

Abdullah, it turned out, was too much of an autonomist for either the League’s or the Congress’s tastes. He had stood with Delhi as the invading tribes from Pakistan were repelled in 1947; in Indian eyes this was a definitive Kashmiri rejection of the Pakistan option. However, at no point had Abdullah conceded the maharaja’s accession to be anything but provisional, the final outcome to be decided by a plebiscite. The Delhi Agreement he signed with Nehru in July 1952 ratified Kashmir’s autonomy and restricted the Indian union’s jurisdiction to the same limited terms as those in the instrument of accession.

In 1952, not only did the plebiscite remain elusive but the pro-Dogra Praja Parishad—a party mostly of ex-state-officials and large landlords dispossessed by Abdullah’s abolition of big estates in 1950—was agitating in Jammu, supported by Hindu right-wing parties such as the Bharatiya Jan Sangh (the precursor of the Bharatiya Janata Party established in 1980); they demanded, among other things, the abrogation of Article 370 and the full integration of J&K with India. Provoked, the Sheikh rearticulated independence as one of the possible options open to the state’s people voting in a plebiscite. Nehru’s government arrested Abdullah in August 1953 (he remained in jails and in exile on and off until 1975).

Abdullah’s ouster was achieved with the complicity of his erstwhile associates in the NC. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed, who replaced Abdullah, had been a trusted senior colleague but proved unable to resist the lure of power held out by Delhi in return for his malleability. A pattern was inaugurated and chief ministers were spun dizzyingly through the political revolving door, surviving only for as long as they were useful buttresses for Delhi’s ownership of Kashmir. Bakshi was ousted in 1963, succeeded by G. M. Sadiq (1964–1971) who was in turn ejected and replaced by S. M. Qasim (1971–1975). Democracy became a farce as each incumbent rigged elections, thrived on nepotism, shored his power through goons, and happily distributed among his coterie the greater part of the grants-in-aid Delhi disgorged into the state. These were ostensibly for its peoples’ development, but the center was fully aware that a paltry trickle would reach them. However, maintaining these unrepresentative puppets was imperative for Delhi’s strategy in Kashmir; Article 370 obliged the Indian center, when making laws or taking decisions even on subjects falling under the union’s purview but relating to J&K, to seek the “concurrence of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.”9 So the mock-democracy was kept up so long as Kashmiri politicians paid tribute in the form of ever-tighter integration with the union.

Fulfilling his side of the bargain, Bakshi’s government obtained his state assembly’s “concurrence” to a presidential order issued in 1954 that extended the Indian government’s right to legislate on all matters on the union list,10 not just the three subjects to which that prerogative had been restricted since accession. In February 1954 he had announced that Kashmir had “irrevocably acceded to India more than six years ago and today we are fulfilling the formalities of our unbreakable bonds with India.”11 This officially closed the referendum/plebiscite option; however, most Kashmiris do not accept what is seen as capitulation under Delhi’s duress.

A further series of presidential orders after 1954 have extended the arm of most laws of the Indian republic to the state, and there is virtually no central Indian institution (e.g., administrative agencies, economic enterprises, banks) that does not extend to Kashmir. Ominously, in 1964–1965, articles of the Indian constitution authorizing the central government to dismiss elected state governments and appropriate the latter’s legislative powers were extended to Kashmir. And the governor would be appointed by Delhi rather than, as previously, by the state’s legislature. These expansions of Delhi’s power were deployed to grievous effect later.

In 1975, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi freed Sheikh Abdullah. Although Kashmiris welcomed his release jubilantly, Abdullah had given up the ghost. The Delhi Agreement signed with Gandhi that year was a surrender; the Sheikh abjured calls for self-determination and accepted the status quo, the autonomy of his state conspicuously eroded since his first incarceration in 1953. In return, his party was allowed to contest elections. The unkindest cut was the inclusion in the agreement’s text of a clause guaranteeing J&K would “continue to be governed by Article 370.”

The Final Thwarting of Democracy in Kashmir

Following the NC’s overwhelming victory in 1977 in the widely acknowledged first fair elections held in Kashmir, a chastened, aging, and ailing Sheikh Abdullah was reestablished as chief minister. Abdullah died in 1982 at the end of a reasonably stable tenure in power, unbridled corruption and continued nepotism notwithstanding. He had already made sure his son Farooq Abdullah would succeed him as head of the NC in 1981. And, in 1983, in another putatively “reasonably free and fair” elections, Abdullah fils—benefiting from dynastic afterglow and sympathy from voters still lamenting his father’s passing—won with a convincing majority.

Farooq was an ingenu in the byzantine politics of Kashmir who seemed oblivious of the directions in which Indira Gandhi was steering Congress politics. First, following her reelection in 1980, Indira Gandhi—determined she would never be ousted as ignominiously as in 1977—pursued a strategy of religious majoritarianism. She cultivated the Hindu vote by not-so-subtly invoking threats to national integrity from religious minorities purportedly ever ready for treason. Sikh autonomists in Punjab and Muslim ones in Kashmir were molded into illustrative specimens. In 1983, she had campaigned successfully in Hindu-majority Jammu by raising fears of a breakup of India by Kashmiris—overwhelmingly Muslim—who resisted assimilation within the nation and, worse still, were guided by a “foreign hand.”12

Second, Farooq Abdullah appeared inattentive to Delhi’s history of “coercive centralization” with regard to the states. Exasperating Gandhi, whose three years in the political backwoods had left her even less inclined to tolerate provincial challenges to her authority, Abdullah had not only turned down her proposal for an electoral alliance in J&K in 1983 but also began dallying with a number of other non-Congress chief ministers seeking to reshape center-state relations. In June 1984 Delhi contrived defections from the NC, aiming to form a new government supported by the Congress and headed by Abdullah’s brother-in-law, G. M. Shah. B. K. Nehru, governor of Kashmir and Gandhi’s cousin, refused to participate in such undemocratic skulduggery, prophesying catastrophe. Rather than heed his warning, she replaced him with a yes-man known mononymously as Jagmohan. He obligingly played executioner. Farooq’s dismissal on July 2, 1984, drew popular protest not because he was beloved but because it epitomized the emptiness of democracy in Kashmir.

G. M. Shah’s hold on popular sentiment remained tenuous. It was easy for Jagmohan, following—by many accounts—stage-managed riots targeting Kashmiri Hindus in early 1986, to dismiss the chief minister in March and take over government through the central powers extended to Kashmir in 1964–1965. While lauded for effectuating several stalled development programs as also for “beautification” drives, Jagmohan’s other policies were less beneficial for Kashmiris: in July, he introduced article 249 of the Indian constitution allowing the center to legislate even on subjects reserved for provincial governments. Controversially, he also cut Muslim recruitment in certain government departments by half.13 Victoria Schofield speaks of “a general onslaught on Muslim culture and identity, both through the educational curriculum and socially.”14 Jagmohan may have gone too far when he banned the sale of meat in the Muslim-majority state on janmashtami (a festival celebrating the birth of the deity Krishna) in August 1986. This was either dangerous hubris or perilous historical amnesia that ignored Kashmiri Muslim reaction to similar acts of Dogra high-handedness in privileging Hindu rites over the rights of other religious communities.15

As under the Dogras, there was widespread condemnation of this interference with Muslim practice. Qazi Nisar Ahmad, the mirwaiz (chief preacher) of South Kashmir, until then little known in other parts of the Valley, challenged the ban by having two sheep slaughtered in the main square of his town of Anantnag. He went on to join other leaders in founding the Muslim United Front (MUF) in September 1986. The MUF was a collection of Islamic parties, supported for a time by other pro-autonomy parties. It appealed to those alienated by the disintegrating NC as well as the increasing Hinduization of Indian politics, whose most visible face was the governor. Although the MUF eventually succumbed to internal bickering, at the time the combination of about eleven parties posed the first realistic threat to the NC in the valley.

Dependence on Delhi to rule in J&K was hammered home even more forcefully as 1986 drew to a close. Farooq, who had been languishing out of power, was ripe for reconciliation with the Congress. Indira Gandhi had been assassinated on October 31, 1984, and her son and successor, Rajiv Gandhi, had won elections in late 1984 by a massive margin. Reversing his mother’s policy, he permitted Farooq to resume the chief ministership in November 1986 but on the condition that he ally himself with Congress in elections slated for March 1987. This alliance with the party held primarily responsible for Kashmir’s subservience erased whatever remaining respect Farooq and the NC enjoyed among Kashmiris. And as if this unholy pact were not already bad news, the elections that ensued were thoroughly finagled.

Apart from what Sten Widmalm has described as the NC-Congress “cartel,” there were candidates fielded by the Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on one extreme and the MUF on the other. What is noteworthy is that even as late as 1987, most Kashmiris and the MUF, which included the inveterately pro-Pakistan Jamat-e-Islami (JI), still showed faith in the democratic path for political change. The cartel, unsure of victory in a fair fight, weighted down potential rivals, specially the MUF, arresting many of its leaders and workers before the polling and after for vaguely termed “antinational activities.” As Widmalm points out, “ostensibly autonomous state authorities” such as the Election Commission and the High Court were silent despite widespread allegations of election fraud.16 Although the MUF never expected to come away with a government-forming majority, it was cheated out of at least six of the ten seats it had anticipated winning.

The Insurgency in Kashmir

The scuttling of these elections was a monumental bungle by the Indian center and its allies in Kashmir. The polls had elicited the participation of 75% of the voters in the state, and 80% in the Valley alone.17 More people had voted than ever before and so more people became disenchanted with democracy than ever before. Abdul Ghani Lone, leader of the People’s Conference, said: “It was this that motivated the young generation to say ‘to hell with the democratic process . . . let’s go for the armed struggle.’ It was the flashpoint.”18

Indeed some of the most prominent figures of the armed resistance that began soon after had been either candidates or campaign workers of the MUF. Among them Yasin Malik, who became chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), had worked as an election agent for an MUF candidate. That candidate, Mohammed Yusuf Shah, became the commander-in-chief of the HM; he is better known by his alias, Sheikh Salahuddin, after the 12th-century hero of the crusades.

Farooq Abullah’s second term as chief minister was shambolic. Many Kashmiris disillusioned by the elections had crossed the LoC into Pakistan-administered Kashmir for military training and arms. And within a year, the impact was felt in the Valley. The JKLF had hurled their first bombs at the end of July 1988. Hartals (strikes) and bandhs (shut downs) became routine, gobbling up one-third of the working days in 1989; assassinations, bomb blasts, and assaults on government property filled the year’s annals.

Jagmohan held “fanaticism and fundamentalism” responsible for the ills of Kashmir.19 His bugbear, Farooq Abdullah, also denounced all protestors as “fundamentalist and Pro-Pakistani.” These tags were attached even to those demanding purely economic relief. Thus, police fired at demonstrators—killing several—who were protesting a sharp hike in electricity rates in 1988. Similarly, the leaders of an agitation opposing the import of fungus-infested flour were incarcerated under anti-terrorist laws.20

Jagmohan expressed shock at the “lack of concern and seriousness” Farooq Abdullah showed despite every sign of serious trouble. “He is a disco dancer,” sneered even young Kashmiris in downtown Srinagar in 1989, dismissing the bon vivant Abdullah.21 Unable to halt the slide into insurgency, Abdullah blustered: bragging that he had “the backing of the Indian government,” he threatened to arrest hundreds of thousands of protestors, to obliterate defiant neighborhoods in Srinagar and to “break the legs of protestors before burying them alive.”22 Once again, echoes resound of Dogra rule: internal turmoil neutralized by the external backing of a paramount power.

Farooq Abullah’s government had careened beyond control by the end of 1989. In December, V. P. Singh replaced Rajiv Gandhi as prime minister. He appointed a Kashmiri Muslim, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, as India’s home minister. On December 8, 1989, the JKLF kidnapped Sayeed’s daughter, Dr. Rubaiya Sayeed, demanding the release of five militants for her return. V. P. Singh’s government set them free within five days; Delhi’s swift capitulation sent morale skyrocketing in Kashmir, and the liberated militants were fêted in Srinagar’s streets. Hopes of an imminent azadi soared; the disappointment in the months to follow was crushing in equal measure.

As strongman or fireman, depending on one’s perspective, Jagmohan was sent to J&K again, arriving in Jammu, the winter capital, on January 19, 1990, where he was sworn in for his second gubernatorial term. A second swearing in ceremony was eventually held in Srinagar, the summer capital, on January 21st. The Indian government needed to recover ground lost so disastrously in Kashmir, and Jagmohan was expected to add some iron back to Delhi’s fist. On hearing of Jagmohan’s imminent arrival, Farooq Abdullah put in his papers, refusing to work with “a man who hates the guts of Muslims.”23 There was a new adamancy and repressiveness in India’s stance during Jagmohan’s governorship. Even though its duration of less than five months was short, by the end of it there was near-complete Kashmiri disaffection with India.

Jagmohan’s new term opened with harsh action, setting the tone for the rest of it. On January 21, 1990, about twenty-thousand Kashmiris, defying a curfew, marched to peacefully protest illegal searches and arrests that had been ordered on the night of January 19. The ensuing gunfire by paramilitary forces killed about two hundred people. As disquieting as the high fatality—including children—were the ruthlessness and religious bias on the part of the security forces: they shot at even those who were already injured and threw those who were barely alive into the stream below, hurling anti-Muslim abuse all the while.24 Balraj Puri suggests it was with this “incident” that “militancy entered a new phase. It was no longer a fight between the militants and the security forces. It gradually assumed the form of a total insurgency of the entire population.”25 This carnage—named after the Gawkadal Bridge in Srinagar on which it took place—holds the same place in Kashmiri memory as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre does in Indian minds. Interestingly, the Gawkadal massacre finds no mention in Jagmohan’s otherwise bulky memoirs. Nor, unlike even Jallianwala, was any public enquiry ordered.

The following months witnessed more of the same: so-called counter-insurgency operating in top gear. And then came the Hawal massacre. On May 21, 1990, unknown gunmen assassinated the highly respected Maulvi Farooq, the mirwaiz of the Jama Masjid in Srinagar and leader of the Awami Action Committee (founded in 1963). While most Kashmiris at the time had blamed the Indian government for his murder, today it is widely accepted as the handiwork of pro-Pakistan militants, many adding sotto voce that they were HM.26 As the procession of thousands of mourners passed through the Hawal quarter of Srinagar, CRPF troops fired without provocation, killing more than sixty people and injuring hundreds. According to eyewitnesses, not even the mirwaiz’s coffined corpse was spared: his body was riddled with bullets.27

No one has yet been punished for the Hawal killings except perhaps Jagmohan, who was dismissed on May 25, 1990. Soon after his removal he summarized his views on Kashmir for the magazine Current. “Every Muslim in Kashmir is a militant today,” he asserted. He added chillingly that the “bullet is the only solution for Kashmir. Unless the militants are fully wiped out, normalcy can’t return to the valley.”28 Since he had already declared every Kashmiri Muslim a militant, his proposed “solution” reverberates with hair-raising finality. It is small wonder that Kashmiris still speak of Jagmohan as “Jagmaar watul” or “laash watul,” evoking a ghoulish collector of corpses.29

Who Are the Militants?

By 1989, the Valley had witnessed a proliferation of militant groups, some demanding independence (azadi) and others wanting a merger with Pakistan. Several of the parties comprising the MUF had grown militant wings of their own: Al Barq was the armed adjunct of Abdul Ghani Lone’s People’s Conference and Al Fateh of Shabbir Shah’s People’s League, both in favor of independence. Most of the smaller groups have disappeared. Among those still standing, the largest and best equipped is the HM, the armed auxiliary of the JI, in favor of integration with Pakistan. In the mid-1990s a number of “foreign militants”—mostly “jihadis” rendered jobless after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 (including Afghans, Chechens, Somalis, and others)—joined combat in Kashmir. Freewheeling mercenaries, their ideological commitments—if there were any—were nebulous. And then, there are the Pakistan-backed LeT and JM, which are still active in small numbers in the 21st century.

But it was the JKLF—with its goal of an independent J&K encompassing the territories that had formed the old princely state—that had led the charge in 1988. Besides throwing bombs and organizing kidnappings, the JKLF also conducted a series of targeted killings, especially in 1989 and 1990. These have continued to fuel fierce debates, questioning the group’s professed allegiance to the ideals of secularism, since several of the victims were Hindus. The JKLF’s defense has been that their targets were picked not for their religion but only for their association with the state apparatuses of Kashmir and India, seen as instruments of Kashmir’s subjugation. But not all its killings can be justified as acts of war.

Within a few years, however, the JKLF suffered severe attrition through “combat deaths and arrests.” It is believed that, besides Indian security forces, it was the HM, backed by the Pakistani army, which was responsible for the destruction of the JKLF’s ranks. The latter’s pro-independence stance did not appeal to the Pakistani establishment. In 1994 Yasin Malik announced that the JKLF was renouncing violence and would struggle only through peaceful “civil disobedience.” So far as is known, they have not broken their word.

A year earlier, in 1993, some twenty-six parties seeking Kashmiri separation from India had come together as the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (Hurriyat). However, there is little common ground in the members’ political aims beyond the threadbare unity that their demand for self-determination provides. Since its formation, the Hurriyat has split into “hard-line” and “moderate” factions. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, head of the Islamist JI advocating merger with Pakistan, leads the hardliners. The convenor of the latter faction is Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, son and successor of Maulvi Farooq, who, with Yasin Malik, is pro- independence.

Since these groups have routinely boycotted elections, there is no reliable quantitative measure of their influence. However, several admittedly impressionistic surveys have suggested that despite the JKLF’s attenuation, its ideology of independence (eschewing both India and Pakistan), which is based on a secular and democratic polity, remains the most widely supported in Kashmir (and opposed in Jammu and Ladakh). Therefore, all groups have had to accommodate this particular definition of azadi. Whenever the JI was asked how the goal of an independent Kashmir can be reconciled with its well-known advocacy for an Islamic Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, the party has dodged the question. Fudging has become even more necessary since 2008 when thousands of Kashmiris began coming out in spontaneous nonviolent anti-India protests rallying around the slogan of azadi. The JI’s ability to evade resolving its paradoxical stance indicates the complicity of pro-independence leaders in not calling them out. Presumably even the appearance of a united front is considered necessary.

Draco in Kashmir: The Laws of Impunity

Jagmohan’s departure in May 1990 brought little reprieve from Delhi’s strong arm. It is telling that his successors for the next eighteen years were a former officer of the R&AW (India’s external intelligence agency) and two retired generals. Each may have appeared to retreat a few paces from Jagmohan’s brashly confrontational policies in Kashmir, but they were no less determined to pulverize the uprising.

In September 1990, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act was extended to J&K, in effect bestowing upon soldiers a free pass to kill. Schofield recounts how, soon after its application to the Valley, security forces went “on ‘a binge’” of violent retaliation for a militant ambush.30 In areas designated “disturbed” according to broad criteria, the act permits the armed forces to shoot to kill, search, and arrest—all without a warrant—ensuring their immunity from prosecution. The armed forces, and civilians who support them, defend the act as necessary for counter-insurgency operations. In the rare cases when members of the armed forces are indicted for violating human rights, they are promptly plucked out of the arena of civilian justice and placed in courts martial. The rates of conviction have been notoriously low; and punishment, when meted out at all, has been so light as to hardly constitute a deterrent.

The AFSPA is not the only law that permits impunity in Kashmir. Predating it is the Public Safety Act (PSA) of 1978. As applied in J&K the act, according to legal experts, “falls short of the recognized norms of justice.” The state can detain any person without charge or trial for up to one year in the name of keeping public order—or up to two years on “the purported presumption that they may in the future commit acts harmful to the state.” The upper limit on the period of detention is frequently violated. Those arrested under the PSA are denied access to their family, friends, or legal counsel for long periods, making detainees invisible for months and therefore more vulnerable to torture.31

The many official and unofficial deviations from standards set by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966)—to which India is a party—prompted a damning assessment of the Indian state’s actions from the International Commission of Jurists. The report of its mission, sent to the region in 1993, concluded that “in substance, India has treated the situation of Jammu and Kashmir as a state of emergency” but without declaring it as such “in international terms.”32 This enables it to evade calls for “accountability and transparency.”

Common sense suggests that an “emergency” lasting three decades is an oxymoron. However, the idea of violence-exuding Kashmir provides emergency-on-a-loop through constantly suppressing which Indian sovereignty forms and reforms itself. In contemporary India, the “state of emergency” has been frequently proclaimed in wars for protecting the territorial integrity of the country, allowing the state to make laws, exceed them, or suspend them to keep its citizens in check. This may explain why the largely non-violent character of massive protests in the Valley since 2008 has been—rather than acknowledged and highlighted—overlooked by the Indian state. Further, Kashmiri agitations have been deprecated as the creation of religious fundamentalists. That the majority of the demonstrators are Muslim has been sufficient to mark them as Islamist demonstrations. That their political slogans are inflected in the religio-cultural idiom of Muslims serves as proof of “jihadism.” That the figure of the violent Kashmiri Muslim citizen/terrorist exists—exemplifying the state of emergency—allows the state to accrue more power and the orderly sovereignty of the republic to emerge stronger than ever.

The Kashmiri Pandit Exodus

Returning to January 19, 1990, on the night of Jagmohan’s swearing in in Jammu and a day and half before he repeated the ceremony in Srinagar, Kashmiri Pandits began leaving their homeland in Kashmir in large numbers. According to some estimates, out of a population of 140,000 a dramatically high proportion—100,000—were said to have left beginning on that date and in the months after. Others have suggested higher figures for Pandit departures at 250,000. By 2011, the numbers of those remaining in the Valley had dwindled to about three thousand, give or take a few hundred. An insignificant number have returned.

Explaining the exit of Pandits is an ideological minefield. Some have attributed their departure entirely to the machinations of the Indian government, specifically by Jagmohan. He allegedly encouraged non-Muslims in Kashmir to leave, making arrangements for their exit so as to clear the ground for military action against “terrorists” without the risk of collateral damage to Hindus. Others speak of calls issued from mosques, announcements in newspapers, and of posters and pamphlets distributed by Islamist groups who threatened to kill non-Muslims who would not leave Kashmir.

There can be no single explanation for the departure of so many at different points in time. The different reasons for the departures will remain mired in controversy until there can be a careful sifting through disputed facts and memories at variance—a tall order in a war zone. But that so many Pandits left their homeland so quickly belies arguments that this “exodus” was entirely voluntary. It seems reasonable to suggest that many Pandits left because of a clear sense that they, their families, and their futures were no longer secure in Kashmir.

Much Pandit discourse, however, implies that Kashmiri Muslims were collectively complicit in their “expulsion,” even if only through their silence or inaction. This allusion is fortified by the absence in Pandit narratives of exile of any acknowledgment that Muslims, too, have suffered from decades of unrest.33 Such partial narration implicates the many Kashmiri Muslims in the actions of a few aggressors. The bridging of these fractured perspectives is made harder by the fact that at least one generation of both Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims has grown up in each other’s absence. The rift is fertile terrain for manipulation.

Making Kashmir Hindu Again?

Indian political parties, especially the BJP and its ideological partner, the “apolitical” Rashtriya Swayamsevaka Sangh, have dredged the suffering of displaced Pandits for political gold. Recycling the rhetoric of bloody vivisection derived from Partition narratives, the Hindu Right has reinforced both the image of the nation as a sacralized geo-body—an embodiment of a mother goddess—and of its parts as “atoot ang” (unbreakable part).34 Kashmiri Pandit “aborigines” driven out of their homeland—the abode of high and ancient Hindu traditions—by Kashmiri Muslim separatists/terrorists provide the perfect pretext for flexing Hindu muscles in the name of a deified Bharat Mata (Mother India).

Already in a convention in Jammu in December 1991, Panun Kashmir (Our own Kashmir), a radical organization of Pandit refugees, had defined its demands in a “Homeland Resolution.” Its website asserts its aim is to “Save Kashmiri Pandits to Save Kashmir to Save India” by “reconquer[ing] that Kashmir which is almost lost” to the “Islamic religious fundamentalists in the valley of Kashmir.”35

In the Hindu right-wingers’ view, Article 370, howsoever emaciated, is the severing scimitar that must be sheathed. Article 35A of the Indian constitution added through a presidential order in 1954 and issued under Article 370 not only sanctions the state’s legislature to define who permanent residents are but also guarantees special provisions to them. Among them is the reservation of certain entitlements to “permanent residents” (formerly termed “state subjects”), namely the rights to acquire immovable property, to vote in elections, and eligibility for certain government positions in the state

These were (except voting rights), beneficences the Dogra maharaja had granted in the early 20th century following agitations spearheaded by his more privileged Hindu subjects; their concern had been to stem the steady accumulation of wealth (including land) and the cornering of positions in the administration by growing numbers of “outsiders.” To hear many contemporary Indians speak one might imagine this dispensation to be the brainchild of Kashmiri Muslim “separatism.” So the abrogation of these privileges—indeed the exorcism of even the spectral presence of Article 370—is demanded vigorously by sections of Indians who view them as blasphemy against the cult of national integration. In the view of Hindu supremacists, article 35A is a vexing obstacle in the way of the only satisfactory solution of the “Kashmir problem”: inundating the state with (Hindu) Indians—including Pandit returnees—armed with the right to vote and to acquire land. In this view, the clock must be turned back and Kashmir made Hindu again.

The State of the Insurgency

The course of the insurgency has neither run smooth nor remained static. Not only has the pro-freedom leadership changed over time but so has the attitude of ordinary Kashmiris towards militants. Insurrection-fatigue had descended in the mid-1990s, with many Kashmiris feeling ground down by both the “military and the militants.” Several militant outfits had degenerated into engines of extortion. The security apparatus’s strategy of working through “renegades”—armed insurgents who had been turned—to deal with other militants, set loose an unprincipled horde on the civilian population. And many ordinary Kashmiris were terrorized by the “foreign” fighters who had little in common either with them or their political aspirations. In 1995 there had been widespread Kashmiri revulsion at the kidnapping of six Western tourists, five of whom were killed, by a shadowy group called Al Faran. However, the Indian state’s pacification drives, so to speak, had largely defeated the armed insurgency by the early 2000s. In mid-2017, police reports suggested there were only about two hundred armed militants active in Kashmir, compared to the several thousands through the 1990s.

However, while armed uprising may have been contained, the rebellion itself was far from over. As mentioned earlier, the most dramatic change came in 2008. Younger Kashmiris, born around the 1990s, who know life only under militarization and are witnesses to the previous generation’s elimination, exhaustion, despair, or cynicism, began organizing massive non-violent demonstrations against Indian occupation. Agitation in summer 2008 was triggered by the government’s controversial decision to transfer ninety-nine acres of forestland to the semi-government board in charge of the annual Hindu pilgrimage to Amarnath in Kashmir. Ostensibly intended to provide facilities for pilgrims, large numbers of Kashmiri Muslims suspected a move to alter the state’s demographic composition. Widespread resistance erupted—one particular rally drew more than half a million protesters—and remained defiantly non-violent.

And the demonstrations, in that and the following years, were largely spontaneous. This was especially evident in 2010. That summer the impetus of protest had come from the ground up, catching even the pro-freedom leadership by surprise; Geelani, Malik, and the mirwaiz were left belatedly scrambling to get back in the driver’s seat. Their hold on it is still shaky.

Since 2016, after a brief lull following the “bloody summer of 2010,” Kashmiris have been facing an unchanging status quo and an increased severity in the security forces’ campaigns, encouraged by a hardline BJP government in power in Delhi since May 2014. Since March 2015, the BJP also forms, along with the Kashmir-based Peoples Democratic Party, a coalition government in the state of J&K. Yet many young Kashmiris, including uniformed schoolchildren and female college students, have been coming out in multitudes again to protest. Observers describe a mood of intensified defiance among Kashmiris, matching that of grim determination in Delhi, as they, “look[ing] death in the eye,” hurl stones even at fully armed soldiers engaged in gun battles with militants. But, by and large, the new insurgent is resolutely non-violent—except for stone pelting—and instead uses social media platforms and writes works of history and anthropology, novels, and poetry. The new insurgents are artists, journalists, photographers or filmmakers and often protest via rap and hip-hop.36 This is not to say violent militancy has disappeared from Kashmir but to emphasize that it is not dominant, if it ever was.

Primary Sources

For the pre-1947 period, the British Library (London) holds the important Crown Representative’s Records (R/1/1) and the Crown Representative’s Residency Records (R/2). The library also has a wealth of private papers—grouped in the Mss.Eur. section—of former British administrators, army personnel, and various European travelers who have left their accounts of Kashmir. The National Archives of India (New Delhi) supplies plentiful material in its Foreign Department, Foreign and Political Department, and Home Department records. However, public access to Kashmir-related materials from the period after 1924 is restricted. The Jammu and Kashmir State Archives (repositories in Jammu and Srinagar) have a vast collection of the princely state’s records. Notable among are the Old English, Political Department, and General Department records. The Research and Publication Division of the University of Kashmir (Srinagar) owns a wide range of material in Persian, Urdu, and Kashmiri. These include histories, memoirs, and administrative manuals. Particularly interesting is the twelve-volume collected papers of Mirza Saifuddin, a spy for the East India Company at the Dogra court.

For the post-1947 period, the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (New Delhi) houses an extensive collection of the private papers of important political figures and parties that influenced Kashmir’s history. The same library has perhaps the most exhaustive collection of Indian newspapers. More recent newspapers from Kashmir have online editions. There is, in addition, an abundance of novels, memoirs, art collections produced by Kashmiris that provide unique insights into a range of perspectives on the region’s most recent history.

Further Reading

Monographs and Articles
  • Aggarwal, Ravina. Beyond Lines of Control: Performance and Politics on the Disputed Borders of Ladakh, India. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.
  • Bose, Sumantra. The Challenge in Kashmir: Democracy, Self-Determination and a Just Peace. London: SAGE, 1997.
  • Bose, Sumantra. Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.
  • Bose, Sumantra. Contested Lands: Israel-Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Cyprus, and Sri Lanka. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010.
  • Bhan, Mona. Counterinsurgency, Democracy, and the Politics of Identity in India: From Warfare to Welfare? London: Routledge, 2015.
  • Duschinski, Haley. “‘Survival is Now Our Politics’: Kashmiri Hindu Community and the Politics of Homeland,” International Journal of Hindu Studies 12, no.1 (2008): 41–64.
  • Junaid, Mohammad. “Death and Life Under Occupation: Space, Violence, and Memory in Kashmir.” In Everyday Occupations: Experiencing Militarism in South Asia and the Middle East. Edited by Kamala Visweswaran, 158–190. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.
  • Kabir, Ananya Jahanara. Territory of Desire: Representing the Valley of Kashmir. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.
  • Kak, Sanjay, ed. Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifada in Kashmir. New Delhi: Penguin, 2011.
  • Rai, Mridu. Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects: Islam Rights and the History of Kashmir. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.
  • Robinson, Cabeiri deBurgh. Body of Victim, Body of Warrior: Refugee Families and the Making of Kashmiri Jihadists. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.
  • Schofield, Victoria. Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2003.
  • Zutshi, Chitralekha. Languages of Belonging: Islam and Political Culture in Kashmir. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Zutshi, Chitralekha. Kashmir’s Contested Pasts: Narratives, Sacred Geographies and the Historical Imagination. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  • Gigoo, Sidhartha. The Garden of Solitude. New Delhi: Rupa, 2010.
  • Roy, Arundhati. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Gurgaon, India: Penguin Random House India, 2017.
  • Rushdie, Salman. Shalimar the Clown. London: Vintage, 2006.
  • Sajad, Malik. Munnu: A Boy from Kashmir. London: Fourth Estate, 2015.
  • Waheed, Mirza. The Collaborator. London: Penguin, 2012.
  • Waheed, Mirza. The Book of Gold Leaves. Gurgaon, India: Penguin, 2014.


  • 1. These came to include the territories of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Baltistan, and Gilgit.

  • 2. See Mridu Rai, Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects: Islam, Rights and the History of Kashmir (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004).

  • 3. B. J. Glancy, Report of the Commission Appointed Under the Orders of His Highness the Maharaja Bahadur . . . to Enquire into Grievances and Complaints (Jammu, India: Ranbir Government Press, 1932), 4.

  • 4. Alice Thorner, “The Kashmir Conflict,” The Middle East Journal 3, no. 1 (1949): 18.

  • 5. S. K. Sharma and S. R. Bakshi, eds., Nehru and Kashmir (Jammu, India: Jay Kay Book House, 1995), 308.

  • 6. Christopher Snedden, The Untold Story of the People of Azad Kashmir (London: C. Hurst, 2012).

  • 7. Jawaharlal Nehru as cited in Sumantra Bose, Contested Lands: Israel-Palestine, Kashmir, Bosnia, Cyprus, and Sri Lanka (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010), 169.

  • 8. Balraj Puri, “The Era of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah,” Economic and Political Weekly, 18, no. 6 (February 5, 1983): 187.

  • 9. Bose, Contested Lands, 170.

  • 10. The Constitution of India divides powers into union and state lists over which jurisdiction lies with the central and provincial governments respectively. A third list—the concurrent—comprises powers over which both the central and provincial governments can legislate with priority to the center.

  • 11. Bose, Contested Lands, 171.

  • 12. The “foreign hand” was, of course, a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan, deemed the eternal provocateur of all domestic difficulties in India.

  • 13. Sumantra Bose, The Challenge in Kashmir: Democracy, Self-Determination and a Just Peace (London: SAGE, 1997), 43–44.

  • 14. Victoria Schofield, Kashmir in Conflict: India, Pakistan and the Unending War (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2003), 135–136.

  • 15. Rai, Hindu Rulers, Muslim Subjects, 178–182.

  • 16. Sten Widmalm, “The Rise and Fall of Democracy in Jammu and Kashmir,” Asian Survey 37, no. 11 (1997): 1005–1030.

  • 17. Schofield, Kashmir in Conflict, 137.

  • 18. Widmalm, “The Rise and Fall of Democracy in Jammu and Kashmir,” 1021–1022.

  • 19. Jagmohan, My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir (New Delhi: Allied Publishers, 1991), 111–125.

  • 20. Inderjit Badhwar, “Valley of Tears,” India Today, May 31, 1989, retrieved from

  • 21. Badhwar, “Valley of Tears.”

  • 22. Bose, The Challenge in Kashmir, 47.

  • 23. Farooq Abdullah as cited in Schofield, Kashmir in Conflict, 147.

  • 24. Tapan Bose, Dinesh Mohan, Gautam Navlakha and Sumanta Banerjee, “India’s ‘Kashmir War’,” Economic and Political Weekly 25, no. 13 (1990): 651–652.

  • 25. Puri cited in Schofield, Kashmir in Conflict, 148.

  • 26. “Our Own Killed Lone, Maulvi Farooq, Not India: Bhat,” Outlook, Srinagar, January 3, 2011, retrieved from

  • 27. Arif Shafi Wani, “Hawal Massacre Anniversary,” Greater Kashmir, 20 May 2015. Retrieved from

  • 28. Jagmohan cited in Schofield, Kashmir in Conflict, 154.

  • 29. Sumegha Gulati, “Why Kashmiris are using the hashtag #JagmohanTheMurderer after the Padma award announcement,”, 29 January 2016. Retrieved from

  • 30. Schofield, Kashmir in Conflict, 156.

  • 31. Syed Junaid Hashmi, “Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act-1978,”, May 1, 2007. Retrieved from

  • 32. Sir William Goodhart, Dr. Dalmo de Abreu Dallari, Ms. Florence Butegwa, and Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn, Human Rights in Kashmir: Report of a Mission (Geneva, Switzerland: International Commission of Jurists, 1995), 42.

  • 33. See Siddhartha Gigoo, The Garden of Solitude (New Delhi: Rupa, 2010); Siddhartha Gigoo and Varad Sharma, eds., A Long Dream of Home: The Persecution, Exodus and Exile of Kashmiri Pandits (New Delhi: Bloomsbury, 2015); and Rahul Pandita, Our Moon Has Blood Clots: A Memoir of a Lost Home in Kashmir (Gurgaon, India: Vintage, 2013).

  • 34. See Sumathi Ramaswamy, The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010).

  • 35. Panun Kashmir website. Emphasis in the original.

  • 36. M. Najeeb Mubarki, “Stone Manifesto,” Outlook, 25 July 2016. Retrieved from; Sanjay Kak, “The Fire Is at My Heart: An Introduction,” in Sanjay Kak, ed., Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifada in Kashmir (New Delhi: Penguin, 2011).