Jammu

Jammu and Kashmir is a state in northern India, often denoted by the acronym J&K. It is located mostly in the Himalayan mountains, and shares borders with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south. Jammu and Kashmir has an international border with China in the north and east, and the Line of Control separates it from the Pakistan-controlled territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan in the west and northwest respectively. The state has special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India.

A part of the erstwhile Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu, the region is the subject of a territorial conflict among China, India and Pakistan. The western districts of the former princely state known as Azad Kashmir and the northern territories known as Gilgit-Baltistan have been under Pakistani control since 1947. The Aksai Chin region in the east, bordering Tibet, has been under Chinese control since 1962.
Jammu and Kashmir consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital. The Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, and Jammu’s numerous shrines attract tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year. Ladakh, also known as “Little Tibet”, is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture.

Maharaja Hari Singh became the ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1925, and he was the reigning monarch at the conclusion of the British rule in the subcontinent in 1947. With the impending independence of India, the British announced that the British Paramountcy over the princely states would end, and the states were free to choose between the new Dominions of India and Pakistan or to remain independent. It was emphasized that independence was only a `theoretical possibility’ because, during the long rule of the British in India, the states had come to depend on British Indian government for a variety of their needs including their internal and external security.

Jammu and Kashmir had a Muslim majority. Following the logic of Partition, many in Pakistan had expectations that Kashmir would join Pakistan. However, the predominant political movement in the Valley of Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir National Conference) was secular, and was allied with the Indian National Congress since the 1930s. So many in India too had expectations that Kashmir would join India. The Maharaja was faced with indecision.
On 22 October 1947, rebellious citizens from the western districts of the State and Pushtoon tribesmen from the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan invaded the State, backed by Pakistan.The Maharaja initially fought back but appealed for assistance to the Governor-General Louis Mountbatten, who agreed on the condition that the ruler accede to India. Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession on 26 October 1947 in return for military aid and assistance, which was accepted by the Governor General the next day. While the Government of India accepted the accession, it added the proviso that it would be submitted to a “reference to the people” after the state is cleared of the invaders, since “only the people, not the Maharaja, could decide where Kashmiris wanted to live.” It was a provisional accession.

Once the Instrument of Accession was signed, Indian soldiers entered Kashmir with orders to evict the raiders. The resulting Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 lasted till the end of 1948. At the beginning of 1948, India took the matter to the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council passed a resolution asking Pakistan to withdraw its forces as well as the Pakistani nationals from the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and India to withdraw the majority of its forces leaving only a sufficient number to maintain law and order, following which a Plebiscite would be held. A ceasefire was agreed on 1 January 1949, supervised by UN observers.

The major ethnic groups living in Jammu & Kashmir include Kashmiris, Gujjars/Bakarwals, Paharis, Dogras and Ladakhis. The Kashmiris live mostly in the main valley of Kashmir and Chenab valley of Jammu division with a minority living in the Pir Panjal region. The Pahari-speaking people mostly live in and around the Pir Panjal region with some in the northern Kashmir valley. The nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals practice transhumance and mostly live in the Pirpanjal region. The Dogras are ethnically, linguistically and culturally related to the neighboring Punjabi people and mostly live in the Udhampur and Jammu districts of the state. The Ladakhis are people of Mongoloid stock and resemble in their ethnic character to the neighboring Tibetan people.

Jammu and Kashmir is the only Indian state with a Muslim majority population. According to the 2011 census, Islam is practiced by about 68.3% of the state population, while 28.4% follow Hinduism and small minorities follow Sikhism (1.9%), Buddhism (0.9%) and Christianity (0.3%). About 96.4% of the population of the Kashmir valley are Muslim followed by Hindus (2.45%) and Sikhs (0.98%) and others (0.17%)[89] Shias live in the district of Badgam, with a majority population, and has been peaceful and has resisted separatism. Shia population is 15 lakhs of Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which is 14% of entire state population.

In Jammu, Hindus constitute 62.55% of the population, Muslims 33.45% and Sikhs, 3.3%; In Ladakh (comprises Buddhists-dominated Leh and Muslim-dominated Kargil), Muslims constitute about 46.4% of the population, the remaining being Buddhists (39.7%) and Hindus (12.1%).[92] The people of Ladakh are of Indo-Tibetan origin, while the southern area of Jammu includes many communities tracing their ancestry to the nearby Indian states of Haryana and Punjab, as well as the city of Delhi.

Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and a few Christian, Jain, and Zoroastrian communities were once natives and made up a vast majority of the whole Kashmir province, as well as neighbouring states, and ancient and modern northern half of what is today India and Pakistan, but because of economic changes, political tension, military involvement, and foreign extremists resulted in vast majority of the followers of these religions to settle in the growing and advancing neighbouring regions and major cities in India over the years, often during no present borders or records. Hindu pandits were specifically affected in this region due to their status in the local society.

cccJammu and Kashmir is the only state in India which enjoys special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India, according to which no law enacted by the Parliament of India, except for those in the field of defence, communication and foreign policy, will be extendable in Jammu and Kashmir unless it is ratified by the state legislature of Jammu and Kashmir. Subsequently, jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of India over Jammu and Kashmir has been extended.

Jammu and Kashmir is the only Indian state to have its own official state flag along with national flag[109] and constitution. Indians from other states cannot purchase land or property in the state.[110] Designed by the then ruling National Conference, the flag of Jammu and Kashmir features a plough on a red background symbolising labour; it replaced the Maharaja’s state flag. The three stripes represent the three distinct administrative divisions of the state, namely Jammu, Valley of Kashmir, and Ladakh.

In 1990, an Armed Forces Act, which gives special powers to the Indian security forces, has been enforced in Jammu and Kashmir. The decision to invoke this act was criticised by the Human Rights Watch.

Like all the states of India, Jammu and Kashmir has a multi-party democratic system of governance with a bicameral legislature. At the time of drafting the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, 100 seats were earmarked for direct elections from territorial constituencies. Of these, 25 seats were reserved for the areas of Jammu and Kashmir State that came under Pakistani occupation; this was reduced to 24 after the 12th amendment of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir

Before the insurgency intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy. The tourism economy in the Kashmir valley was worst hit. However, the holy shrines of Jammu and the Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh continue to remain popular pilgrimage and tourism destinations. Every year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit holy shrines of Vaishno Devi and Amarnath, which has had significant impact on the state’s economy. It was estimated in 2007 that the Vaishno Devi yatra contributed ₹4.75 billion (US$71 million) to the local economy annually a few years ago. The contribution should be significantly greater now as the numbers of Indian visitors have increased considerably. Foreign tourists have been slower to return. The British government still advises against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of the cities of Jammu and Srinagar, travel between these two cities on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, and the region of Ladakh, while Canada excludes the entire region excepting Leh.

Besides Kashmir, several areas in the Jammu region have a lot of tourist potential as well. Bhau Fort in Jammu city is the major attraction for the tourists visiting that city. Bage-e-Bahu is another tourist destination. The local aquarium, established by the fisheries department, is visited by many. Tourists from across India visit Jammu in a pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi. Mata Vaishno Devi is located in the Trikuta Hills, about 40 to 45 km from Jammu City. Approximately 10 million Pilgrims visit this holy place every year.

cBefore the insurgency intensified in 1989, tourism formed an important part of the Kashmiri economy. The tourism economy in the Kashmir valley was worst hit. However, the holy shrines of Jammu and the Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh continue to remain popular pilgrimage and tourism destinations. Every year, thousands of Hindu pilgrims visit holy shrines of Vaishno Devi and Amarnath, which has had significant impact on the state’s economy. It was estimated in 2007 that the Vaishno Devi yatra contributed ₹4.75 billion (US$71 million) to the local economy annually a few years ago. The contribution should be significantly greater now as the numbers of Indian visitors have increased considerably. Foreign tourists have been slower to return. The British government still advises against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of the cities of Jammu and Srinagar, travel between these two cities on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, and the region of Ladakh, while Canada excludes the entire region excepting Leh.

Besides Kashmir, several areas in the Jammu region have a lot of tourist potential as well. Bhau Fort in Jammu city is the major attraction for the tourists visiting that city. Bage-e-Bahu is another tourist destination. The local aquarium, established by the fisheries department, is visited by many. Tourists from across India visit Jammu in a pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi. Mata Vaishno Devi is located in the Trikuta Hills, about 40 to 45 km from Jammu City. Approximately 10 million Pilgrims visit this holy place every year.

Ladakh is famous for its unique Indo-Tibetan culture. Chanting in Sanskrit and Tibetan language forms an integral part of Ladakh’s Buddhist lifestyle. Annual masked dance festivals, weaving and archery are an important part of traditional life in Ladakh. Ladakhi food has much in common with Tibetan food, the most prominent foods being thukpa, noodle soup; and tsampa, known in Ladakhi as Ngampe, roasted barley flour. Typical garb includes gonchas of velvet, elaborately embroidered waistcoats and boots, and gonads or hats. People adorned with gold and silver ornaments and turquoise headgears throng the streets during Ladakhi festivals.