Knowledge Corner

Jammu and Kashmir is a state in northern India, often denoted by the acronym J&K. It is located mostly in the Himalayan mountains, and shares borders with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south. Jammu and Kashmir has an international border with China in the north and east, and the Line of Control separates it from the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in the west and northwest respectively. The state has special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India.

A part of the erstwhile Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu, the region is the subject of a territorial conflict among China, India and Pakistan. The western districts of the former princely state known as Azad Kashmir and the northern territories known as Gilgit-Baltistan have been under Pakistani control since 1947. The Aksai Chin region in the east, bordering Tibet, has been under Chinese control since 1962.

Jammu and Kashmir consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population. The Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, and Jammu’s numerous shrines attract tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year. Ladakh, also known as “Little Tibet”, is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture.

History

Map portraying the area comprising much of Kashmir including the valley of the Karakash in the Aksai Chin in Ladakh in eastern Kashmir comprising the area from the eastern Pangong Tso in Ladakh to the Kilian, Sanju-la, Hindutash and Yangi Passes in Ladakh in the Kuen Lun range in northern Ladakh up to the Khathaitum in the Kilian Valley in northern Ladakh.

Maharaja Hari Singh became the ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1925, and he was the reigning monarch at the conclusion of the British rule in the subcontinent in 1947. With the impending independence of India, the British announced that the British Paramountcy over the princely states would end, and the states were free to choose between the new Dominions of India and Pakistan or to remain independent. It was emphasised that independence was only a `theoretical possibility’ because, during the long rule of the British in India, the states had come to depend on British Indian government for a variety of their needs including their internal and external security.

Jammu and Kashmir had a Muslim majority (77% Muslim by the previous census in 1941). Following the logic of Partition, many people in Pakistan expected that Kashmir would join Pakistan. However, the predominant political movement in the Valley of Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir National Conference) was secular, and was allied with the Indian National Congress since the 1930s. So many in India too had expectations that Kashmir would join India. The Maharaja was faced with indecision.

On 22 October 1947, rebellious citizens from the western districts of the State and Pushtoon tribesmen from the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan invaded the State, backed by Pakistan. The Maharaja initially fought back but appealed for assistance to the India, who agreed on the condition that the ruler accede to India. Maharaja Hari Singh signed theInstrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 in return for military aid and assistance, which was accepted by the Governor General the next day. While the Government of India accepted the accession, it added the proviso that it would be submitted to a “reference to the people” after the state is cleared of the invaders, since “only the people, not the Maharaja, could decide where Kashmiris wanted to live.” It was a provisional accession.

Once the Instrument of Accession was signed, Indian soldiers entered Kashmir with orders to evict the raiders. The resulting Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 lasted till the end of 1948. At the beginning of 1948, India took the matter to the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council passed a resolution asking Pakistan to withdraw its forces as well as the Pakistani nationals from the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and India to withdraw the majority of its forces leaving only a sufficient number to maintain law and order, following which a Plebiscite would be held. A ceasefire was agreed on 1 January 1949, supervised by UN observers.

A special United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) was set up to negotiate the withdrawal arrangements as per the Security Council resolution. The UNCIP made three visits to the subcontinent between 1948 and 1949, trying to find a solution agreeable to both India and Pakistan. It passed a resolution in August 1948 proposing a three-part process. It was accepted by India but effectively rejected by Pakistan. In the end, no withdrawal was ever carried out, India insisting that Pakistan had to withdraw first, and Pakistan contending that there was no guarantee that India would withdraw afterwards. No agreement could be reached between the two countries on the process of demilitarisation.

India and Pakistan fought two further wars in 1965 and 1971. Following the latter war, the countries reached the Simla Agreement, agreeing on a Line of Control between their respective regions and committing to a peaceful resolution of the dispute through bilateral negotiations.

Geography

Jammu and Kashmir is home to several valleys such as the Kashmir Valley, Tawi Valley, Chenab Valley, Poonch Valley, Sind Valley and Lidder Valley. The main Kashmir Valley is 100 km (62 mi) wide and 15,520.3 km2 (5,992.4 sq mi) in area. The Himalayas divide the Kashmir valley from Ladakh while the Pir Panjal range, which encloses the valley from the west and the south, separates it from the Great Plains of northern India. Along the northeastern flank of the Valley runs the main range of the Himalayas. This densely settled and beautiful valley has an average height of 1,850 metres (6,070 ft) above sea-level but the surrounding Pir Panjal range has an average elevation of 5,000 metres (16,000 ft).

The Jhelum River is the only major Himalayan river which flows through the Kashmir valley. The Indus, Tawi, Ravi and Chenab are the major rivers flowing through the state. Jammu and Kashmir is home to several Himalayan glaciers. With an average altitude of 5,753 metres (18,875 ft) above sea-level, the Siachen Glacier is 76 km (47 mi) long making it the longest Himalayan glacier.

Skill Test

1. In which year was the Kargil War fought?

2. What is the term of Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir?

3. Name the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

4. Which is the state bird of Jammu and Kashmir?

5. Which animal is known as the state animal of Jammu and Kashmir?

6. Who is the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir?

7. Name the person who bought Kashmir from the British people.

8. What is the official language of Jammu and Kashmir?

9. Name the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

10. Which country borders Jammu and Kashmir on the west?

11. When was the state of Jammu and Kashmir formed?

12. Which one among the following is a folk dance of Jammu and Kashmir?

13. Which article of the Constitution of India is not a permanent provision for Jammu and Kashmir?

14. Srinagar is located on the banks of