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This article covers the history of Kashmir from earliest recorded times to the present day.
According to folk etymology, the name "Kashmir" means "desiccated land" (from the Sanskrit: Ka = water and shimeera = desiccate). In the Rajatarangini, a history of Kashmir written by Kalhana in the mid-12th century, it is stated that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake. According to Hindu mythology, the lake was drained by the great rishi or sage, Kashyapa, son of Marichi, son of Brahma, by cutting the gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varaha-mula). When Kashmir had been drained, Kashyapa asked Brahmans to settle there. This is still the local tradition, and in the existing physical condition of the country, we may see some ground for the story which has taken this form. The name of Kashyapa is by history and tradition connected with the draining of the lake, and the chief town or collection of dwellings in the valley was called Kashyapa-pura, which has been identified with Kaspapyros of Hecataeus (apud Stephanus of Byzantium) and Kaspatyros of Herodotus (3.102, 4.44). Kashmir is also believed to be the country meant by Ptolemy's Kaspeiria.
Cashmere is an archaic spelling of Kashmir, and in some countries it is still spelled this way.
According to legend, Jammu was founded by Raja Jamboolochan in the 14th century BC. During one of his hunting campaigns he reached the Tawi River where he saw a goat and a lion drinking water at the same place. The king was impressed and decided to set up a town after his name, Jamboo. With the passage of time, the name was corrupted and became "Jammu".
Kashmir was one of the major centre of Sanskrit scholars. According to the Mahabharata, the Kambojas ruled Kashmir during the epic period with a Republican system of government from the capital city of Karna-Rajapuram-gatva-Kambojah-nirjitastava., shortened to Rajapura, which has been identified with modern Rajauri. Later, the Panchalas are stated to have established their sway. The name Peer Panjal, which is a part of modern Kashmir, is a witness to this fact. Panjal is simply a distorted form of the Sanskritic tribal term Panchala. The Muslims prefixed the word peer to it in memory of Siddha Faqir and the name thereafter is said to have changed into Peer Panjal. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka is often credited with having founded the city of Srinagar.
Kashmir was once a Buddhist seat of learning, perhaps with the Sarvāstivādan school dominating. East and Central Asian Buddhist monks are recorded as having visited the kingdom. In the late 4th century AD, the famous Kuchanese monk Kumārajīva, born to an Indian noble family, studied Dīrghāgama and Madhyāgama in Kashmir under Bandhudatta. He later becoming a prolific translator who helped take Buddhism to China. His mother Jīva is thought to have retired to Kashmir. Vimalākṣa, a Sarvāstivādan Buddhist monk, travelled from Kashmir to Kucha and there instructed Kumārajīva in the Vinayapiṭaka.
The misrule, corruption and internecine fighting of the Lohara dynasty provided an opening for Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir, who was the first Muslim (Pashtun) ruler of Kashmir and the founder of the Shah Miri dynasty. Jonaraja, in his Rajatarangini mentioned him as Sahamera. He came from Swat (situated in present day Pakistan), the then tribal territory on the borders of Afghanistan and rose to the position of Minister to the ruling Hindu king. At the king's death, Shah Mir married the king's widow and became the ruler of Kashmir, reigning for three years as Shams-ud-Din and establishing the Kasmir Sultanate. He was the first ruler of the Swati dynasty, which was established in 1339.
Shah Mir was succeeded by his eldest son Jamshid, but he was deposed by his brother Ali Sher probably within few months, who ascended the throne under the name of Alauddin.
The subsequent history of the sultanate is a never-ending story of palace intrigues and the constant competition for power between two families, the Sayyids and the Chaks. During one period, 1484–1537, power reverted back and forth continually between the two families, so much so that Muhammad Shah (a Sayyid) had five different reigns and Fath Shah (a Chak) had three. At this time, the Lodi dynasty of Delhi got involved in Kashmir's politics, although the effect was not long-lasting. Later, the Mughals also got involved. For a short stretch, an army from Kashgar under Haidar Dughlat invaded Kashmir and the sultan had to acknowledge the suzerainty of Said Khan of Kashgar. Eventually, after Humayun recovered his Indian empire, Mughal influence once again became paramount, and Kashmir was finally absorbed into the Mughal empire during the reign of Akbar (around 1586).
During the Sultanate period, the Kashmir sultans issued silver and copper coins. The silver coins were square and followed an unusual weight standard of approximately 6.2 gm. The unusual weight of the coins (called sasnu or sansu) suggests that trade with other kingdoms was not a major part of the economy.
In the 14th century, Islam gradually became the dominant religion in Kashmir, starting with the conversion in 1323 of Rincana, the first king of the Sayyid Dynasty from Ladakh. The Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir lived in relative harmony, since the Sufi-Islamic way of life that ordinary Muslims followed in Kashmir complemented the Rishi tradition of Kashmiri Pandits. This led to a syncretic culture where Hindus and Muslims revered the same local saints and prayed at the same shrines. The famous sufi saint Bulbul Shah was able to persuade the king of the time Rinchan Shah from Ladakh to adopt the Islamic way of life, and the foundation of Sufiana composite culture was laid when Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists were co-existing.
Several Kashmiri rulers, such as Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, were tolerant of all religions in a manner comparable to Akbar. However, several Muslim rulers of Kashmir were intolerant to other religions. Sultãn Sikandar Butshikan of Kashmir (AD 1389-1413) and his (former Brahmin) minister Saif ud-Din are often considered the worst of these. Historians have recorded many of his atrocities. The Tarikh-i-Firishta records that Sikandar persecuted the Hindus and issued orders proscribing the residence of any other than Muslims in Kashmir.
The metrical chronicle of the kings of Kashmir, called Rajatarangini, has (erroneousy) been pronounced by Professor H.I. Wilson to be the only Sanskrit composition yet discovered to which the appellation "history" can with any propriety be applied. It first became known to the Muslims when, on Akbar's invasion of Kashmir in 1588, an amalgamated version was presented to the emperor. A translation into Persian was made at his order. A summary of its contents, taken from this Persian translation, is given by Abul Fazl in the Ain-i-Akbari. The Rajatarangini was written by Kalhana in the middle of the 12th century. His work, in eight books, makes use of earlier writings that are now lost.
The Rajatarangini is the first of a series of four histories that record the annals of Kashmir. Commencing with a rendition of traditional 'history' of very early times (3102 BC), the Rajatarangini comes down to the reign of Sangrama Deva, (c.1006 AD) and Kalhana. The second work, by Jonaraja, continues the history from where Kalhana left off, and, entering the Muslim period, gives an account of the reigns down to that of Zain-ul-ab-ad-din, 1412. P. Srivara carried on the record to the accession of Fah Shah in 1486. The fourth work, called Rajavalipataka, by Prajnia Bhatta, completes the history to the time of the incorporation of Kashmir in the dominions of the Mogul emperor Akbar, 1588.
By the early 19th century, the Kashmir valley had passed from the control of the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan, and four centuries of Muslim rule under the Mughals and the Afghans, to the conquering Sikh armies. Earlier, in 1780, after the death of Ranjit Deo, the Raja of Jammu, the kingdom of Jammu (to the south of the Kashmir valley) was captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Lahore and afterwards, until 1846, became a tributary to the Sikh power. Ranjit Deo's grandnephew, Gulab Singh, subsequently sought service at the court of Ranjit Singh, distinguished himself in later campaigns, especially the annexation of the Kashmir valley by the Sikhs army in 1819, and, for his services, was created Raja of Jammu in 1820. With the help of his officer, Zorawar Singh, Gulab Singh soon captured Ladakh and Baltistan, regions to the east and north-east of Jammu.
In 1845, the First Anglo-Sikh War broke out, and Gulab Singh "contrived to hold himself aloof till the battle of Sobraon (1846), when he appeared as a useful mediator and the trusted advisor of Sir Henry Lawrence. Two treaties were concluded. By the first the State of Lahore (i.e. West Punjab) handed over to the British, as equivalent for (rupees) one crore of indemnity, the hill countries between Beas and Indus; by the second the British made over to Gulab Singh for (Rupees) 75 lakhs all the hilly or mountainous country situated to the east of Indus and west of Ravi" (i.e. the Vale of Kashmir). Soon after Gulab Singh's death in 1857, his son, Ranbir Singh, added the emirates of Hunza, Gilgit and Nagar to the kingdom.
The Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu (as it was then called) was constituted between 1820 and 1858 and was "somewhat artificial in composition and it did not develop a fully coherent identity, partly as a result of its disparate origins and partly as a result of the autocratic rule which it experienced on the fringes of Empire." It combined disparate regions, religions, and ethnicities: to the east, Ladakh was ethnically and culturally Tibetan and its inhabitants practised Buddhism; to the south, Jammu had a mixed population of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs; in the heavily populated central Kashmir valley, the population was overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, however, there was also a small but influential Hindu minority, the Kashmiri brahmins or pandits; to the northeast, sparsely populated Baltistan had a population ethnically related to Ladakh, but which practised Shi'a Islam; to the north, also sparsely populated, Gilgit Agency, was an area of diverse, mostly Shi'a groups; and, to the west, Punch was Muslim, but of different ethnicity than the Kashmir valley. After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, in which Kashmir sided with the British, and the subsequent assumption of direct rule by Great Britain, the princely state of Kashmir came under the paramountcy of the British Crown.
Ranbir Singh's grandson Hari Singh, who had ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1925, was the reigning monarch in 1947 at the conclusion of British rule of the subcontinent and the subsequent partition of the British Indian Empire into the newly independent Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. An internal revolt began in the Poonch region against oppressive taxation by the Maharaja. In August, Maharaja's forces fired upon demonstrations in favour of Kashmir joining Pakistan, burned whole villages and massacred innocent people. The Poonch rebels declared an independent government of "Azad" Kashmir on 24 October. Rulers of Princely States were encouraged to accede their States to either Dominion - India or Pakistan, taking into account factors such as geographical contiguity and the wishes of their people. In 1947, Kashmir's population was "77% Muslim and 20% Hindu". To postpone making a hurried decision, the Maharaja signed a "standstill" agreement with Pakistan, which ensured continuity of trade, travel, communication, and similar services between the two. Such an agreement was pending with India. In October 1947, Pashtuns from Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province recruited by the Poonch rebels, invaded Kashmir, along with the Poonch rebels, allegedly incensed by the atrocities against fellow Muslims in Poonch and Jammu. The tribesmen engaged in looting and killing along the way. The ostensible aim of the guerilla campaign was to frighten Hari Singh into submission. Instead the Maharaja appealed to Mountbatten for assistance, and the Governor-General agreed on the condition that the ruler accede to India. Once the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession, Indian soldiers entered Kashmir and drove the Pakistani-sponsored irregulars from all but a small section of the state. India accepted the accession, regarding it provisional until such time as the will of the people can be ascertained by a plebiscite, since Kashmir was recognized as a disputed territory. Kashmir leader Sheikh Abdullah endorsed the accession as ad-hoc which would be ultimately decided by a plebiscite and is appointed head of the emergency administration. The Pakistani government immediately contested the accession, suggesting that it was fraudulent, that the Maharaja acted under duress and that he had no right to sign an agreement with India when the standstill agreement with Pakistan was still in force.
The United Nations was then invited to mediate the quarrel. The UN mission insisted that the opinion of Kashmiris must be ascertained. The then Indian Prime Minister is reported to have himself urged U.N. to poll Kashmir and on the basis of results Kashmar's accession will be decided. However, India insisted that no referendum could occur until all of the state had been cleared of irregulars. On 5 January 1949, UNCIP (United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan) resolution stated that the question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through a free and impartial plebiscite. As per the 1948 and 1949 UNCIP Resolutions, both countries accepted the principle, that Pakistan secures the withdrawal of Pakistani intruders followed by withdrawal of Pakistani and Indian forces, as a basis for the formulation of a Truce agreement whose details are to be arrived in future, followed by a plebiscite; However, both countries failed to arrive at a Truce agreement due to differences in interpretation of the procedure for and extent of demilitarisation one of them being whether the Azad Kashmiri army is to be disbanded during the truce stage or the plebiscite stage.
In the last days of 1948, a ceasefire was agreed under UN auspices; however, since the plebiscite demanded by the UN was never conducted, relations between India and Pakistan soured, and eventually led to three more wars over Kashmir in 1965, 1971 and 1999. India has control of about half the area of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir; Pakistan controls a third of the region, governing it as Gilgit–Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, "Although there was a clear Muslim majority in Kashmir before the 1947 partition and its economic, cultural, and geographic contiguity with the Muslim-majority area of the Punjab (in Pakistan) could be convincingly demonstrated, the political developments during and after the partition resulted in a division of the region. Pakistan was left with territory that, although basically Muslim in character, was thinly populated, relatively inaccessible, and economically underdeveloped. The largest Muslim group, situated in the Vale of Kashmir and estimated to number more than half the population of the entire region, lay in Indian-administered territory, with its former outlets via the Jhelum valley route blocked."
The UN Security Council on 20 January 1948 passed Resolution 39 establishing a special commission to investigate the conflict. Subsequent to the commission's recommendation the Security Council, ordered in its Resolution 47, passed on 21 April 1948 that the invading Pakistani army retreat from Jammu & Kashmir and that the accession of Kashmir to either India or Pakistan be determined in accordance with a plebiscite to be supervised by the UN. In a string of subsequent resolutions the Security Council took notice of the continuing failure by India to hold the plebiscite. However, no punitive action against India could be taken by the Security Council because its resolution, requiring India to hold a Plebiscite, was non-binding and the Pakistani army never left the part of the Kashmir, they managed to keep occupied at the end of the 1947 war, required by the Security Council resolution 47.
The eastern region of the erstwhile princely state of Kashmir has also been beset with a boundary dispute. In the late 19th- and early 20th centuries, although some boundary agreements were signed between Great Britain, Afghanistan and Russia over the northern borders of Kashmir, China never accepted these agreements, and the official Chinese position did not change with the communist revolution in 1949. By the mid-1950s the Chinese army had entered the north-east portion of Ladakh. : "By 1956–57 they had completed a military road through the Aksai Chin area to provide better communication between Xinjiang and western Tibet. India's belated discovery of this road led to border clashes between the two countries that culminated in the Sino-Indian war of October 1962." China has occupied Aksai Chin since 1962 and, in addition, an adjoining region, the Trans-Karakoram Tract was ceded by Pakistan to China in 1965.
In 1949, the Indian government obliged Hari Singh to leave Jammu and Kashmir and yield the government to Sheikh Abdullah, the leader of a popular political party, the National Conference Party. Since then, a bitter enmity has been developed between India and Pakistan and three wars have taken place between them over Kashmir. The growing dispute over Kashmir and the consistent failure of democracy also led to the rise of Kashmir nationalism and militancy in the state.
Following the disputed elections in 1987, young disaffected Kashmiris in the Valley such as the HAJY group - Abdul Hamid Shaikh, Ashfaq Majid Wani, Javed Ahmed Mir and Mohammed Yasin Malik - were recruited by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front(JKLF) and the popular insurgency in the Kashmir Valley increased in momentum from this point on. The year 1989 saw the intensification of conflict in Jammu and Kashmir as Mujahadeens from Afghanistan slowly infiltrated the region following the end of the Soviet-Afghan War the same year. Pakistan provided arms and training to both indigenous and foreign militants in Kashmir, thus adding fuel to the smouldering fire of discontent in the valley.
During the 19th century rule, Kashmir was a popular tourist destination due to its climate. Formerly only 200 passes a year were issued by the government, but now no restriction is placed on visitors. European sportsmen and travellers, in addition to residents of India, traveled there freely. The railway to Rawalpindi, and a road thence to Srinagar made access to the valley easier.
In the 1901 Census of the British Indian Empire, the population of the princely state of Kashmir was 2,905,578. Of these 2,154,695 were Muslims, 689,073 Hindus, 25,828 Sikhs, and 35,047 Buddhists. The Hindus were found mainly in Jammu, where they constituted a little less than 50% of the population. In the Kashmir Valley, the Hindus represented "only 524 in every 10,000 of the population (i.e. 5.24%), and in the frontier wazarats of Ladhakh and Gilgit only 94 out of every 10,000 persons (0.94%)." In the same Census of 1901, in the Kashmir Valley, the total population was recorded to be 1,157,394, of which the Muslim population was 1,083,766, or 93.6% of the population. These percentages have remained fairly stable for the last 100 years. In the 1941 Census of British India, Muslims accounted for 93.6% of the population of the Kashmir Valley and the Hindus constituted 4%. In 2003, the percentage of Muslims in the Kashmir Valley was 95% and those of Hindus 4%; the same year, in Jammu, the percentage of Hindus was 67% and those of Muslims 27%. Census of 1901 found four divisions among the Muslims of the princely state: Shaikhs, Saiyids, Mughals, and Pathans. The Shaikhs were most numerous, with clan names (known as krams) including "Tantre," "Shaikh," "Mantu," "Ganai," "Dar," "Damar," "Lon" etc. The Saiyids, it was recorded "could be divided into those who follow the profession of religion and those who have taken to agriculture and other pursuits. Their kram name is "Mir." While a Saiyid retains his saintly profession Mir is a prefix; if he has taken to agriculture, Mir is an affix to his name." The Mughals who were not numerous were recorded to have kram names like "Mir" (a corruption of "Mirza"), "Beg," "Bandi," "Bach," and "Ashaye." Finally, it was recorded that the Pathans "who are more numerous than the Mughals, ... are found chiefly in the south-west of the valley, where Pathan colonies have from time to time been founded. The most interesting of these colonies is that of Kuki-Khel Afridis at Dranghaihama, who retain all the old customs and speak Pashtu."
Among the Hindus of Jammu province, who numbered 626,177 (or 90.87% of the Hindu population of the princely state), the most important castes recorded in the census were "Brahmans (186,000), the Rajputs (167,000), the Khattris (48,000) and the Thakkars (93,000)."