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Question

Explain the internal divisions of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and describe how these lead to multiple regional aspirations in that State.

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Solution

Jammu and Kashmir comprise three social and political regions: Jammu,

Kashmir and Ladakh. The heart of the Kashmir region is the Kashmir valley; the people are Kashmiri speaking and mostly Muslim, with a small Kashmiri-speaking Hindu minority. Jammu region is a mix of foothills and plains. Its population comprises Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and speakers of various languages. The Ladakh region is mountainous and has very little population, which is equally divided between Buddhists and Muslims. The separatist politics that surfaced from 1989 has taken varied forms and represents the following propositions that have been made that reflect internal divisions within the state:

a. The first group of separatists call for independent Kashmir from both India and Pakistan. They fight for their own Kashmir identity, ‘kashmiriyat’ which is interpreted as a form of nationalism and expression of political independence.

b. The second group basically wants merger of Kashmir with Pakistan on the pretext of the state having predominantly Muslim population.

c. The third strand asks for greater autonomy from the Centre to bring about overall development of the regions, more so by the people of Ladakh and Jammu who complain of backwardness and neglect on part of the central government.

This indeed has represented different political aspirations by various groups operating within the state. The Kashmir, besides being an external issue between India and Pakistan, represents a complex problem.The issue is influenced by internal politics and by diverse and conflicting interests among different groups. The demand for intra-state autonomy is as strong as state autonomy.


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