The previous part of this article described the history of Kashmir before its accession to India. However, a series of events took place in Kashmir after this accession which changes the political environment of Kashmir forever and leads to the end of Kashmiriyat in the State. This article will describe these events in brief so that we make a better sense of Kashmir.
After independence, the first election of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was held in 1951. The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (NC) stood unopposed and subsequently, Sheikh Abdullah became the first prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir. Initially, Abdullah wanted a one-party rule in Kashmir to establish a monopoly on power in J&K. Balraj Puri, a political activist of Jammu, met Jawaharlal Nehru to persuade him to act against such a decision of NC. But Nehru denied this, following which the Praja Parishad, a party in Jammu region, started a Civil Disobedience causing disruption in the state. The situation was such that any dissent against the NC government was resisted. The Praja Parishad demanded the unification of J&K with the rest of India, as they were against the autonomy of Sheikh Abdullah (Bose 2003). In 1952, Abdullah and Nehru signed a Delhi Agreement which strengthened the autonomy of J&K.
In 1953, Sheikh Abdullah was sacked from the Prime Minister position on “speculation” that he had no confidence in the Indian Jammu and Kashmir (IJK) assembly. He was jailed because there was a suspicion that Abdullah had colluded with Adlai Stevenson, the then Governor of Illinois, to get support from the United States for making Kashmir an Independent State. Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed became the new Prime Minister of J&K, where he was allowed to rule without any central interruption as long as he ensured that Kashmir remains part of India (Bose 2003).
In December 1963, the holy relic (which is believed to be containing a hair of Prophet Mohammed) was stolen from Hazratbal Mosque. Following this, communal riots took place in Kashmir and parts of West Bengal. Although the relic was retrieved, the investigation procedure was never disclosed to the nation (Ganguly 1996). This incident was one of those times when the Muslims in Kashmir felt that the Indian Nation was never secular in its spirit.
Sheikh Abdullah was released from prison after these riots. In November 1964, the Constituent Assembly of (J&K) passed an amendment which changed the position of Prime Minister to Chief Minister (CM) of J&K and Sardar-i-riyasat to the position of governor of J&K. This was speculated as the end of the extent of autonomy which Kashmir derived from Article 370 (Ganguly 1996).
In January 1965, the NC gave an offer to Indian National Congress (INC) that it would dissolve itself and merge with it. The NC was no doubt the identity of J&K and such merger would lead to a virtual end of the autonomy of J&K as the INC was, in fact, an outsider in Kashmir. The INC accepted this offer which leads to widespread protest which was suppressed by brute force, arrest warrants. Sheikh Abdullah who had spoken against this merger was also arrested (Bose 2003). This led to a wide-spread disturbance in Kashmir.
When Abdullah was released, some people gathered to celebrate the return of Sher-e-Kashmir and were shouting pro-plebiscite chants. There are accounts from top leaders which prove that the Plebiscite Front would have won the election, only if fair elections were organized (Bose 2003). This shows that the spirit of plebiscite existed among the Kashmiris as it gave them a choice to select their fate. However, the plebiscite was never organized in Kashmir.
After the 1971 war, Sheikh Abdullah changed his stance on Kashmir. In 1975, a Delhi Accord was signed between Abdullah and Indira Gandhi in which the conditions of the accord were such that Abdullah would be made CM of J&K only if he withdraws support for a plebiscite in the State. It is often speculated that this accord had heavily hampered the autonomy of Kashmir and credibility of Abdullah among the Kashmiris. The INC started to take part in the election and win a significant number of seats in the state but such Elections were mostly unfair. Abdullah remained in power until his death in 1982. His first son, Farooq Abdullah took over his seat. (Bose 2003)
During 1983 elections, the National Conference decided to stand the election without the INC. Abdullah won the election yet Indira Gandhi, probably to establish congress Dominance, suspended him as CM on “tenuous grounds.” This dismissal leads to violent protest in the state. In 1986, Farooq Abdullah signed an accord with Rajiv Gandhi which brought him back to CM position but this accord lead to the heavy withdrawal of support for NC. (Ganguly 1996)
Pakistan has played a major role in creating insurgency in Kashmir. They kept a watch on every event in Kashmir and subsequently commented on them globally. For example, after the theft of holy grail, Pakistan stated that the uprise within the population of Kashmir is a sign of Pro-Pakistani sentiment which exists within the people of Kashmir. Not to ignore the fact that the 1965 war was a move by Pakistan to take Kashmir. Pakistan has funded the Kashmir militancy which caused the violence in Kashmir. (Ganguly 1996)
Election of 1987 was the nail in the coffin for Kashmir. The NC had opposition from the Muslim United Front and undoubtedly after Sheikh Abdullah’s betrayal, they had a lot of support from the public. However, the election was rigged by both the NC and INC. Ballot boxes filled with pre-marked ballots for the NC were replaced with the original ones (Bose 2003). This event leads to a rise in Militancy in Kashmir by the Mujahideen groups. The Afghan mujahideen started the militancy with prominent figures such as Yasin Malik of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front joined the underground militancy and then there was nothing but unrest in Kashmir.
This narrative shows that Kashmir became a stage for “political fight” for all the political parties which lead to the destruction of Kashmiriyat. Starting from autocratic control over Kashmir’s political discourse by Sheikh Abdullah to unfair intervention in elections by INC. But the worst happened after the rise of the insurgency, events which lead to the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits and Implementation of Armed Forces Special Power Act which lead to a massive human right violation. This will be discussed in the next part of this article.
Bose, Sumatra. 2003. Kashmir: Roots to conflict, Paths to Peace. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Ganguly, Sumit. 1996. "Kashmir Insurgency: Political Mobilisation and Institutional Decay." MIT Press.
 They were backed by Pakistan.
 The JKLF believes that a Kashmir independent from Paksitan and India has to be established.
To read the first part of this article click here
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