Friday, September 30, 2016

The J & K quagmire

India has many ambiguous and unsolved mysteries; however which has been the cause of one of the biggest turmoil inside and outside the country since independence is intricacies of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. The article is attempt to understand different stake holdings of diverse voices involved in the issues, apart from the prevailing parties, forums and debates laying claim to the issue. Here is the description of the very root of the concern is what is 222,236 Sq km approx state and who are people numbering 19 million approx. The state is mistakenly presumed to as that of Kashmir, however it comprise of current six regions – Jammu, Kashmir, Leh-Ladakh, Pakistan occupied Kashmir - POK (Azad Kashmir) and under Pakistan controlled - Gilgit-Baltistan, under China controlled – Aksai Chin (China occupied Kashmir - COK).
Photo Source: Kashmiri Overseas Association Website

Currently, Jammu, Kashmir, Baltishtan and Azad Kashmir have roughly divided into 10 district each, two districts of Ladakh  and CoK Aksai Chin. Placed in north western corner of the state, is part of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which was administered in 1970 as “Northern Areas”, was renamed in 2009 as Gilgit-Baltistan. The Gilgit-Baltistan which is supposedly part of Azad Kashmir (as part of land of the same state under Pakistani control), however, Government Pakistan signed, Karachi Agreement, with its staged government of Azad Kashmir to self-secede to Pakistani Government, Gilgit-Baltistan. To add to complexity, the demography of the region in 1948, comprising of 85% Shias and Ismailis, was altered under General Zia ul-Haq regime by cheering resettlement of Sunnis from other region. The voices of Gilgit-Baltistan have been suppressed, unheard and stifled more so after Chinese rising interest in the region. Even there is has been constant protest by the populous for their rights and against the indiscriminate rule.

Just below Baltistan in south is another part of POK, Azad Kashmir, the place which has captured the imagination and frenzy of masses of Sub-continent, with no clear understanding of what it is. The marginal land stated to have self-governing model, laughably albeit under Pakistan Government. It is the narrow piece of land marked by Pakistani state as independently governing, southern part of Gilgit-Baltistan which is 400 km long and 16 to 64 km wide. The region is infamous for human rights violations, disappearance of persons, suppression of freedom of speech and active role of ISI and Pakistani armed forces like in Baltistan. It is known fact that even the official language is stated as Urdu not Kashmiri, and the voices of Kashmiriyat are swiftly taken care of. Part of the region measuring 5,180 Sq. Km is said to be illegally ceded to China by Pakistan under the March 1963 Sino-Pak Boundary agreement.

Just on the opposite side of Gilgit-Baltistan lays region of Aksai Chin on the eastern side of the state. This ancient high altitude desert trade route at elevation of roughly 4,300 meter is occupied by China. It is land of nomadic groups such as the Bakarwal, is under the iron wrist regime and with not much information available, except disputed claims by China, and its importance for the red state to exercise control over Tibet. 
Bordering Aksai Chin, on south western side region of Leh and Ladakh, peaceful, blessed with tourism and consisting of Leh and Kargil district. With almost equal population of Shia Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists, the region is peaceful and received tourist from across the globe. In the recent times there have been calls for Ladakh to be constituted as a union territory of India and some event suggest it to be an independent state given its largest land share in the state and feeling of unfair treatment by Kashmir dominate politics and cultural differences with other regions.
The southernmost of part of the state is Jammu Region with 10 districts and the majority 62.55% of Jammu's population practicing Hinduism, with Sikhs and Muslim, place enjoys peaceful strong cultural heritage, except for the border district with Pakistan Administer Kashmir having altercation with the army or terrorist incursions from other side. There been voices to create separate state of Jammu, given its peaceful existence and disconnect with discerning voices of Kashmir Valley.

72,971 Sq km
1.8 million
·       Baltistan: Skardu, Shigar, Kharmang, Ghanche
·       Gilgit: Gilgit, Ghizer, Diamer, Nagar
·       Diamer: Astore and Hunza
Azad Kashmir (PoK)
13,297 Sq km
4.6 million
·       Mirpur district: Mirpur, Kotli, Bhimber
·       Muzaffarabad:Muzaffarabad, Hattian, Neelam
·       Poonch: Poonch, Haveli, Bagh, Sudhanoti
Aksai Chin
37,555 Sq km
Aksai Chin part of Ladhak region
59,146 Sq km
0.27 million
Leh district and Kargil district.
26,293 Sq km
5.38  Million
Jammu, Doda, Kishtwar, Rajouri, Reasi, Udhampur, Ramban, Kathua, Samba, Poonch
Kashmir Valley
15,948 km²x
6.89 million
Srinagar, Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Budgam, Ganderbal, Bandipora, Baramulla, Kupwara
222,236 Sq km
18.94 million
*It is estimated that around 100,000 Hindus in Azad Kashmir areas, according to the 1941 census, have left their homes during the conflict and different account suggest 150,000 to 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits have left their homes in Kashmir Valley.
*Under the Sino-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963, Pakistan has relinquished 5,180 sq. KMs in Gilgit-Baltistan to China.

Nestling between is all these region is the most in limelight beautiful Kashmir valley with its issues and protest getting global attention. This region again has 10 districts however the so much in news burning Kashmir issues and protest are confined to normally three districts of regions Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian, however sometime extend to three more Kulgam, Kupwara, and Srinagar. Stories from this part of the state, are most popular in media enough to sway masses across the world to take notice of the plight of people suffering in valley. However, same people are neither get information about the situation across the border nor are sensitive to unheard voices of people of other parts of the state. The currently region has almost 96 % Muslim populations, has popular perception of unrest in the rest of the country. 
Photo Source: Jammu-Kashmir.Com Website

The bigger question, which popular discourse is has missed it understanding the debate beyond the powerful stakeholders and power hungry protesters. There are many discourse of the history, change of demographics over the time, however land in contention is the same, when forming opinion about the rightful fate of the people either by outsiders or by protesting or non protesting insiders, each party either directly involved or indirectly shaping the outcome must understand the unheard voices and other parties of the conflict. Otherwise, the complex puzzle of the state would become more confusing then reaching a plausible solution.

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Ravindra Vikram Singh रवींद्र विक्रम सिंह ரவீந்திர விக்ரம் சிங் રવીન્દ્ર વિક્રમ સિંહ రవీంద్ర విక్రమ్ సింగ్ রবীন্দ্র বিক্রম সিং ರವೀಂದ್ರ ವಿಕ್ರಮ್ ಸಿಂಗ್