The rise of Kashmiri aspirations, 1924–47
in Independent Kashmir
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This chapter examines the political rise of Kashmiri nationalism from around 1924 until 1947 and, in particular, the overwhelming rise of one of its major proponents and political leaders, the ethnic Muslim Kashmiri, Sheikh Abdullah. Essentially, Kashmiri nationalism ‘re-awoke’ in 1931, partly, but not only, because of his significant actions, which made him a leader of Kashmir Muslims. Sixteen years later, when it was certain the British would be leaving India, Abdullah had become recognised as the undisputed leader of Kashmiris. He was then the most significant and, arguably, the most popular politician in J&K. Abdullah remained significant until his death in September 1982. He enjoyed great prestige and popularity amongst Muslim Kashmiris, both urban and rural. However, he was not as popular with non-Kashmiris and/or with non-Muslims, especially Jammuites and Ladakhis, and particularly after J&K joined India in 1947. Partly, this was because, for them, Sheikh Abdullah represented the Muslim Kashmiri identity and the aspirations of the Kashmir region, rather than acting as a unifying leader for the whole state. Abdullah’s political assertiveness would cause him problems on a number of occasions after J&K joined India on 26 October 1947.

Independent Kashmir

An incomplete aspiration

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