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Christopher Snedden

This chapter provides important historical and social background about J&K and its administrative structure, as well as some geo-political observations about this princely state. It explains why the princely state was popularly, but confusingly, called ‘Kashmir’ not ‘Jammu’, why the Kashmir region was the most important region in J&K, and why, in 1947, subcontinental politicians desired Kashmir and wooed Kashmiris. The chapter’s other observations chiefly concern the Kashmir region and Kashmiri Muslims’ relationships, or not, with other J&K-ites. In particular, this chapter comprehensively explores the significant and ongoing issues of Kashmiri identity and Kashmiri nationalism and why these are important factors within J&K. The discussion includes examining why Kashmiris have long believed in, and supported, a Kashmir ‘nation’. This dynamic is important to understand as it helps to explain why Kashmir enjoyed greater status and was more significant politically in 1947 than either the Jammu region or the Frontier Districts region. In that tumultuous year, the major ramification of Kashmir’s importance was that people were focused almost exclusively on this region and its residents. The other areas of J&K appeared to be peripheral. Additionally, in 1947 and thereafter, Kashmir and Kashmiris quickly came to dominate politics in J&K and in relation to the Kashmir dispute.

in Independent Kashmir
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An incomplete aspiration

This book examines the topic of an independent ‘Kashmir’ and why this political aspiration to be self-governing and free from coerced subordination to another nation remains unsatisfied. It focuses on how Maharaja Hari Singh, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Muslim Kashmiris have envisioned or sought independence for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), or for their particular region within this disputed entity. Hari Singh and Sheikh Abdullah were the two most significant figures in J&K in the twentieth century. They also were political rivals, united briefly in 1947 by not wanting J&K to join Pakistan and by an indecisive desire for an independent J&K. After acceding to India, Singh quickly became redundant. Through a tumultuous political career, Abdullah strove for independence or maximum autonomy for J&K. In 1988, disenchanted Muslim Kashmiris surprisingly began a violent anti-India uprising seeking azadi (independence, freedom) for their region or for it to join Pakistan. Kashmiris remain severely disgruntled and this insurgency continues to pose challenges for India. By concentrating on these two men and this insurgency, the book provides a focused, in-depth history of J&K from the mid-1920s, when Hari Singh became J&K’s ruler, to the present time, when many Kashmiris still crave azadi from India. While an ‘independent Kashmir’ is a long envisioned aspiration, the book concludes that it is likely to remain incomplete while India and Pakistan exist in their current structures, while India is strong and unified, and while Kashmiris are disunified and uncertain about what status they want for their homelands.