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Himalaya

Day 40: Srinagar, Kashmir

Michael Palin - HimalayaIt's not cosmetic, either. Within a couple of miles of this aqueous paradise 16 people have been killed by bomb and bullet in this last month alone, and to that figure can be added another 60,000 who have died in Kashmir since the conflict began.

Why?

In 1947, when India and Pakistan became independent, Kashmir was a Princely State of India, ruled by Maharajah Hari Singh. All 565 Princely States, comprising 100 million people, were required to sign instruments of accession to the newly formed country. What made Kashmir different was that 80 per cent of its population was Muslim.

Hari Singh hummed and hawed and eventually decided, two months after independence, (and not without some heavy pressure from Nehru) that his state would stay a part of India.

The outrage of the new Pakistan government was predictable. After all, their country was set up as a homeland for Muslims and indeed the letter 'K' in its name stands for Kashmir. (The 'P' is for Punjab, the 'A' for Afghania (a romantic synonym for the North-West Frontier), the 'S' for Sind and the 'Stan' is an abbreviation of Baluchistan.)

Some Pathans took the law into their own hands and moved into Kashmir, taking over an area which has since become known as Azad (Free) Kashmir. Indian troops moved in to counter them and the long cycle of violence began.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 40: Srinagar, Kashmir
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Srinagar
  • Book page no: 88

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