Jammu and Kashmir is a state in northern India. It is located mostly in the Himalayan mountains, and shares a border 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-controlled 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. Pakistan, which claims the territory as disputed, refers to it alternatively as “Indian-occupied Kashmir” or “Indian-held Kashmir,” whereas some international agencies such as the United Nations call it “Indian-administered Kashmir.” The regions under the control of Pakistan are referred to as “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” (PoK) within India, as “Azad (Free) Jammu and Kashmir” in Pakistan, and as “Pakistan-administered Kashmir” or “Pakistan-controlled Kashmir” generally.
Jammu and Kashmir consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital. 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. It is the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population.
Main articles: History of Kashmir, Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir conflict
Hari Singh had ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1925 and was the reigning monarch at the conclusion of British rule in the subcontinent in 1947. One of the conditions of the partition of India imposed by Britain was that the rulers of princely states would have the right to opt for either Pakistan or India or remain independent. In 1947, Kashmir’s population was 77% Muslim and it shared a boundary with both Dominion of Pakistan and Union of India.
On 20 October 1947, locals and tribesmen backed by Pakistan invaded Kashmir.The Maharaja initially fought back but appealed for assistance to the Governor-General Louis Mountbatten, who agreed on the condition that the ruler accede to India. Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947, which was accepted by the Governor General of India the next day. Once the Instrument of Accession was signed, Indian soldiers entered Kashmir with orders to evict the raiders. India took the matter to the United Nations. The UN resolution asked both India and Pakistan to vacate the areas they had occupied and hold a referendum under UN observation. The holding of this plebiscite, which India initially supported, was dismissed by India because the 1952 elected Constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir voted in favour of confirming the Kashmir region’s accession to India. The United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) was deployed to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan. UNMOGIP’s functions were to investigate complaints of ceasefire violations and submit findings to each party and to the U.N. secretary-general. Under the terms of the ceasefire, it was decided that both armies would withdraw and a plebiscite would be held in Kashmir to give Kashmiris the right to self-determination. The primary argument for the continuing debate over the ownership of Kashmir is that India did not hold the promised plebiscite. In fact, neither side has adhered to the U.N. resolution of 13 August 1948; while India chose not to hold the plebiscite, Pakistan failed to withdraw its troops from Kashmir as was required under the resolution. India gives the following reasons for not holding the plebiscite:
United Nations Security Council Resolution 47 on Kashmir was passed by UNSC under chapter VI of UN Charter, which are non binding and have no mandatory enforceability. In March 2001,the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan during his visit to Indian and Pakistan,remarked that Kashmir resolutions are only advisory recommendations and comparing with those on East Timor and Iraq was like comparing apples and oranges, since those resolutions were passed under chapter VII, which make it enforceable by UNSC. In 2003,then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf announced that Pakistan was willing to back off from demand for UN resolutions for Kashmir.
Moreover, India alleges that Pakistan failed to fulfill the pre-conditions by withdrawing its troops from the Kashmir region as was required under the same U.N. resolution of 13 August 1948 which discussed the plebiscite.
India has consistently told that UN resolutions are now completely irrelevant and Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue and it has to be resolved under 1972 Simla Agreement and 1999 Lahore Declaration.
The 1948–49 U.N. resolutions can no longer be applied, according to India, because of changes in the original territory, with some parts “having been handed over to China by Pakistan and demographic changes having been effected in Azad Kashmir and the Northern Areas.”
Another reason for the abandonment of the referendum is because demographic changes after 1947 have been effected in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, as generations of Pakistani individuals non-native to the region have been allowed to take residence in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Furthermore, India alleges that in Jammu & Kashmir state of India, the demographics of the Kashmir Valley have been altered after separatist militants coerced 250,000 Kashmiri Hindus to leave the region.
India cites the 1952 elected Constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, which voted in favour of confirming accession to India. New Delhi says that since Kashmiris have voted in successive national elections in India, there is no need for a plebiscite.
In response Pakistan holds that:
The popular Kashmiri insurgency demonstrates that the Kashmiri people no longer wish to remain within India. Pakistan suggests that this means that Kashmir either wants to be with Pakistan or independent.
According to the two-nation theory, which is one of the theories that is cited for the partition that created India and Pakistan, Kashmir should have been with Pakistan, because it has a Muslim majority.
India has shown disregard to the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the United Nations Commission in India and Pakistan by failing to hold a plebiscite to determine the future allegiance of the state.
Pakistan has noted the widespread use of extrajudicial killings in Indian-administered Kashmir carried out by Indian security forces while claiming they were caught up in encounters with militants. These encounters are commonplace in Indian-administered Kashmir. The encounters go largely uninvestigated by the authorities, and the perpetrators are spared criminal prosecution.
Human rights organisations have strongly condemned Indian troops for widespread rape and murder of innocent civilians while accusing these civilians of being militants.
Diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan soured for many other reasons and eventually resulted in three further wars in Kashmir the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and the Kargil War in 1999. India has control of 60% of the area of the former Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir (Jammu, Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh); Pakistan controls 30% of the region (Gilgit–Baltistan and Azad Kashmir). China occupied 10% (Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract) of the state in 1962.
The Chenab formula was a compromise proposed in the 1960s, in which the Kashmir valley and other Muslim-dominated areas north of the Chenab river would go to Pakistan, and Jammu and other Hindu-dominated regions would go to India.
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, Tibet, 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 northeast 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 1963.
For intermittent periods between 1957, when the state approved its own Constitution, and the death of Sheikh Abdullah in 1982, the state had alternating spells of stability and discontent. In the late 1980s, however, simmering discontent over the high-handed policies of the Union Government and allegations of the rigging of the 1987 assembly elections triggered a violent uprising which was backed by Pakistan.
Since then, the region has seen a prolonged, bloody conflict between separatists and the Indian Army, both of whom have been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including abductions, massacres, rapes and lootings. The army has officially denied these allegations.However, violence in the state has been on the decline since 2004 with the peace process between India and Pakistan. The situation has become increasingly tense politically in recent years.
Geography and climate
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).
Because of Jammu and Kashmir’s wide range of elevations, its biogeography is diverse. Northwestern thorn scrub forests and Himalayan subtropical pine forests are found in the low elevations of the far southwest. These give way to a broad band of western Himalayan broadleaf forests running from northwest-southeast across the Kashmir Valley. Rising into the mountains, the broadleaf forests grade into western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests. Above the tree line are found northwestern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows. Much of the northeast of the state is covered by the Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe. Around the highest elevations, there is no vegetation, simply rock and ice.
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.
The climate of Jammu and Kashmir varies greatly owing to its rugged topography. In the south around Jammu, the climate is typically monsoonal, though the region is sufficiently far west to average 40 to 50 mm (1.6 to 2 inches) of rain per month between January and March. In the hot season, Jammu city is very hot and can reach up to 40 °C (104 °F) whilst in July and August, very heavy though erratic rainfall occurs with monthly extremes of up to 650 millimetres (25.5 inches). In September, rainfall declines, and by October conditions are hot but extremely dry, with minimal rainfall and temperatures of around 29 °C (84 °F).
Across from the Pir Panjal range, the South Asian monsoon is no longer a factor and most precipitation falls in the spring from southwest cloudbands. Because of its closeness to the Arabian Sea, Srinagar receives as much as 635 millimetres (25 in) of rain from this source, with the wettest months being March to May with around 85 millimetres (3.3 inches) per month. Across from the main Himalaya Range, even the southwest cloudbands break up and the climate of Ladakh and Zanskar is extremely dry and cold. Annual precipitation is only around 100 mm (4 inches) per year and humidity is very low. In this region, almost all above 3,000 metres (9,750 ft) above sea level, winters are extremely cold. In Zanskar, the average January temperature is −20 °C (−4 °F) with extremes as low as −40 °C (−40 °F). All the rivers freeze over and locals make river crossings during this period because their high levels from glacier melt in summer inhibits crossing. In summer in Ladakh and Zanskar, days are typically a warm 20 °C (68 °F), but with the low humidity and thin air nights can still be cold.