Prof. Brian Kupfer
Having been described by Sanskrit poet Kalidas as “more beautiful than the heaven and is the benefactor of supreme bliss and happiness”, Kashmir is a geographic region that is located in the northwestern corner of the Indian subcontinent. Regrettably, Kashmir has been an area of heavy violent, political, and religious dispute between Pakistan and Indian ever since it’s divide in 1947. After the British withdrew control of the area in 1947, the ownership of Kashmir was brought in to question. The Hindu ruler, Maharaja Hari Singh, was forced to decide whether or not to remain an independent state, or merge with Pakistan, or India. Following several months of confusion, Singh signed the Instrument of Accession to the Union of India, which declared to accede to the Dominion of India, and outlined how the region will be controlled. Outraged, Pakistan initiated violent attacks since they felt that the heavily controlled Islamic region was theirs. In retaliation, India sent in their troops to defend their newly received land.
A ceasefire was ordered by Jawaharlal Nehru, Indian Prime Minister, in 1948, and a formal complaint to the United Nations was filed against Pakistan. The formal complaint was titled The United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP 1948-1950). “The UNCIP twas to investigate and mediate the India/Pakistan dispute over the future of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It existed from June, 1948, until March, 1950. The United Nations Representative for India and Pakistan was Sir Owen Dixon. His task was to assume the responsibilities of UNCIP, to prepare for the Plebiscite Administrator for Jammu and Kashmir, and to assist in preparation for and supervision of demilitarization.” (United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan., 1948-1950) Pakistan refused to comply with United Nation orders to fully withdraw from the area thus, through further intervention, dividing the area and creating the “Line of Control”. The area was divided with the northern and western portion of Kashmir under Pakistani control, and the southern and eastern portion under Indian control.
The religious history of Kashmir can trace Hinduism presence back as early as the 8th century AD. “From the 8th through the 14th centuries, Kashmir was divided into many small kingdoms controlled by a succession of Hindu dynasties.” (South Asia: Kashmir, 2002) This area was also the birthplace and creation of a Hindu sect known as Kashmiri Shivaism “that flourished in Kashmir from the latter centuries of the first millennium C.E. through the early centuries of the second.” (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy) Hindus were the primary controllers of the area until the 1346 invasion of the Muslims and the murder of the last Hindu king, Udiana Deva. The muslims controlled majority of the Kashmir region the next several hundred years. During that time period, the remaining Hindus were forced to convert to Islam, and the few who refused left the area. The area was void of Hindu presence until the early 1800’s with the push of control from the Sikhs.
Today, Kashmir is still the location of a very tense and violent feud between these two nations. Kashmir has had a violent history of murder, warfare, and religious intolerance. Even after several demanded ceasefire, and intervention from other countries, Kashmir has yet to remain as a peaceful land. With fighting that continues to today, and constant advancement of Pakistani troops, and the increased Indian military presence, it is hard to believe that a peaceful agreement can be reached soon. With the current economic condition of India, and the straining ties of Pakistan with western civilization, it would be in the best interest for both countries to resolve their issues. More than half of India’s population living below the poverty line, and a constant funding of increased security forces in the Kashmir region, their efforts of little peace and increased conflict is not sustainable. The people of Kashmir have been calling for independence and peace and have only been met with increased violence. “Young Kashmiri men have been on the streets calling for independence from India and throwing stones at security forces. Indian security forces have responded with tear gas and shotguns that fire small-bore pellets instead of buckshot. A strict curfew has also been imposed across the Kashmir valley, which includes Srinagar, the region’s largest city.” (Why Kashmir is Erupting Again, 2016)
As with several other parts of this world, continuously debating on ownership of land, and the preservation of religious and historical beliefs, violence and war always ensues. In order for there to be world peace, to tolerance of religion, and the well being of the citizens must be put at the forefront, and political agenda must be eliminated.
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