The discord of Kashmiris with Delhi started in 1586 when Yusuf Shah Chak(the last independent Kashmiri ruler), was dethroned and later killed by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. In 1586, the foreign occupation started in Kashmir and to this day, Kashmir has been ruled by foreign elites in one way or the other.
Kashmir, which used to be the crown jewel of Asia suffered destruction at the hands of the invaders. The Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs, and Dogras victimized and tyrannized the people of Kashmir. Before the advent of invaders, Kashmir was an independent ‘sultanate’ being ruled by the locals: the territory was known for its beauty, culture, and glorious traditions. After the arrival of invaders, Kashmir lost its charm, beauty, and glorious traditions.
The Mughals(1586-1751) primarily focused on building beautiful gardens instead of alleviating poverty or helping in fighting famines in the region.
The Mughals were followed by the Afghans(1752-1818) who became famous for their atrocities. An Afghan Governor introduced his tyranny in Kashmir by cutting the nose of one of Kashmiris. Moreover, the Afghans imposed heavy taxes on the region’s famed shawl weavers, causing the shawl industry to shrink largely. The Afghans sent many Kashmiris to Afghanistan as slaves\
The Sikh(1819-1845) rule in Kashmir was not different from the ferocious predecessors. During the time of Deewan Moti Ram, the second governor of the Sikh Regime, Jamia Masjid Srinagar was closed for public prayers: Azan was also forbade. According to British explorer William Moorcraft, the Sikhs treated Kashmiris “little better than cattle”.
Afterward, The Dogras(1846-1947) had the same imperial posture during their regime. During the Dogra Rule, out of 476 gazetted officer’s only 55 were Muslims. Out of a total of 15,429 non-gazetted jobs, Muslims only had 4,943. Similarly, in departments like a forest, customs, education, revenue, treasury, and police, out of a total of 2,416 employees, 64% were held by Non-Muslims. Interestingly, no Kashmiri Muslim held the position of Prime Minister in 100 years of Dogra Rule.
During the time of invaders, it is a reality that the people of Kashmir retaliated against the foreign occupation. The land of resistance gave birth to freedom fighters like Shams Khan, SabzAli Khan, Malli Khan, and countless others. The subjugation at the hands of invaders was something that was not in the blood of the people of Kashmir.
The Mughals fearing the might of stone-pelters had to build a wall known as ‘Kalai’ around their administrative capital called Nagar Nagari in Srinagar. Stone-pelting was taken as an act of resistance against the cruel Mughal Regime. Stone-pelting is still taken as a resilient response against outsiders in Kashmir.
In 1832, a place known as Mang in District Poonch witnessed a horrific incident, in which the skins were chopped off from the bodies of SabzAli Khan and Malli Khan who retaliated against the despotic Sikh Regime.
In 1865, a labor revolt was instigated by shawl weavers in Srinagar. They demanded the end of the exploitative tax system. The Dogra regime gunned down the protestors.
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On 13th July 1931, thousands of Kashmiris flocked to Central Jail Srinagar to see the trail of Abdul Qadeer. As the time of obligatory jummah prayers approached, a Kashmiri stood up to deliver Adhan. The Dogra Governor, Ray Zada Tartilok Chand, ordered his soldiers to open fire in which 22 Kashmiris were killed. The Genesis of the Kashmir Resistance Movement with the emergence of India and Pakistan, things took a new shape. The public opinion in 1947 was vastly divided as Muslim Conference wanted to accede with Pakistan: The National conference had a tilt towards India and Maharaja wanted to remain as a legitimate ruler by signing agreements with both the newly-formed countries.
The Dogra autocratic rule was challenged by the residents of the state in 1947. Maharaja Hari Singh and his regime had become a symbol of oppression, cruelty, and hatred for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Unfortunately, due to the lack of visionary leadership and self-vested decisions of the leaders’ the dark night of slavery remained on the skies of Kashmir.
The time period from 1948-1985 in both the divided parts of Kashmir–Pakistan Administrated Kashmir(PAK) and Indian Administrated Kashmir(IAK) — remained much concerned towards exercising the right of self-determination and claiming maximum autonomy for the two regions. The year 1988 changed the notions of the Kashmir Resistance Movement once for all. As India back-stabbed the electoral process in IAK in which Muslim United Front(MUF) won majority seats, the resistance movement entered a new phase. Before 1988, the ideology of accession to Pakistan or India was pre-dominant in both parts of Kashmir, but the year 1988 gave passage to a new and popular ideology of Independent Kashmir.
Although there were organizations like National Students Federations(NSF) which demanded the reunification of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and the ideology of Independent Kashmir made its transition in the political spectrum of Jammu and Kashmir in roughly 1965, till 1988, the ideology was not that much famous as it happened to be after 1988.
It was Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front(JKLF) who spearheaded the armed resistance movement in Kashmir. Within years, the ideology of Independent Kashmir progressed and was promoted to a gross-root level. In PAK, the NSF crossed the Line of Control(LOC) back in the 1990s, terming it as a bloody line being demarcated by the foreign elites on the soil of JK. The era of the 1990’s depicted the valor and bravery with which the Kashmiris fought for their independence against the oppressors. The particular organizations played an important part in promoting the ideology of Independent Kashmir across both sides of LOC.
As before 1947, Kashmir was a land of freedom-fighters and after 1947, the revolutionary posture of giving birth to freedom-fighters remained the same. The likes of Maqbool Butt, Gulnawaz Butt, Aman Ullah Khan, and countless others showed uncompromising dedication towards their political cause of Independent Kashmir. For generations, Kashmir has been under foreign rule and for generations, Kashmiris have retaliated against the foreign rule.
From 1988 to 2020, approximately over one lakh Kashmiris have lost their lives in the freedom struggle. The killings, looting, and plundering are the routine activities of Indian occupied forces. The situation is getting intense and worst day by day. Whereas in PAK, the situation is not that bad but human rights violations are frequently observed. The leaders and workers belonging to the pro-independence faction are harassed and threatened by the security agencies of Pakistan. i.e: On 21st October 2019, a peaceful demonstration of the pro-freedom alliance, People’s National Alliance (PNA) was met with brute force in which protestors were subjected to shear violence from the state. So largely in PAK, the provisions of basic human rights are being curtailed in violent ways.
The unilateral Indian decision of 5th August has set the stage for the new resistance movement. As the Indian side of Kashmir witnessed complete lock-down and curfew, on the Pakistani side, rallies of thousands were initiated by the JKLF and PNA to show solidarity with the fellow countrymen. They demanded the complete withdrawal of occupational forces and forwarded a pro-independence agenda towards the residents of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In reality, the pro-independence parties have always objected to the foreign rule in Jammu Kashmir which is historically linked to the movement against invaders starting from 1586.
The one most important and special feature of Kashmiri people is that they have never glorified the rule of invaders in their land. On the contrary, the Muslims of Subcontinent, announce it with great jubilation that the Muslims ruled Subcontinent for 800 years. For Kashmiris, invaders were invaders irrespective of caste, creed, color, or religion.
The resistance movement has always been against the foreign ruling elites. The movement will remain as long as the occupation remains. The discord of Kashmiris with Subcontinent and it’s successors is not year old: in fact, it is centuries old. In contemporary times, the message from the residents of JK is loud and clear which is: Resistance is their path, Independence is their destination.
Written by: Sibghatullah