Partitions of Kashmir, 1948 – 2019

Kashmir, the northernmost region of the Indian subcontinent, is a territory with a rich cultural heritage and a troubled political history. India, Pakistan, and China had been fighting wars over Kashmir since 1947. This has resulted in the balkanization of Kashmir, and it has now been split into five different zones. In this blog post, we will delve into the historical and political significance of the partitions of Kashmir and their impact on the region and its people.

Maharaja Hari Singh, king of Kashmir in 1947, acceded to a political union with India vide a treaty which gave Kashmir a special political status in India, and special privileges to Kashmiri people. This accession was vigorously contested by Pakistan, and till date four major and several smaller wars have been fought over Kashmir between India, Pakistan, and China, in 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971, 1989, 1999, and 2019. Kashmir is now divided into six distinct zones – Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Aksai Chin, and the Trans-Karakoram tract. These unofficial borders are called Line of Control, Line of Actual Control, and so on.

The Partition of India and its impact on Kashmir

The partition of India in 1947 marked the end of British colonial rule in the subcontinent and the creation of two independent states – India and Pakistan. The division was based on religious lines, with India being predominantly Hindu and Pakistan predominantly Muslim. The partition sparked massive migration and violence, with millions of people forced to flee their homes and hundreds of thousands losing their lives.

Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region, was torn between the two newly formed states. The Indian army intervened, and a ceasefire was declared, leaving Kashmir divided between India and Pakistan.

Kashmir was an independent princely state at the time of independence in 1947, with a Hindu king, but Muslim majority population. The Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, was faced with a difficult choice – to join India or Pakistan. He initially chose to remain independent, but eventually acceded to India following an invasion by Pakistani tribal militants on October 22, 1947. The king acceded to India, and signed the Accession instrument on Oct 26, 1947. The Indian army arrived the same day and pushed back the militants. While they were able to save the capital of Srinagar, they lost the a significant area of Kashmir, which has since been called Azad Kashmir.

First Indo-Pak war and the first Partition of Kashmir, 1947-48

The war had far-reaching consequences for both India and Pakistan, as well as the people of Kashmir. The ceasefire left the issue of Kashmir unresolved, and the two countries have continued to dispute the region to this day. The conflict also resulted in the displacement of thousands of people, with many being forced to flee their homes and becoming refugees.

Ceasefire Line

A “ceasefire line” was established following the first Indo-Pakistan War of 1947-1948, which resulted in the first Partition of the larger Jammu and Kashmir region into two parts, with Pakistan controlling the western and northern parts and India controlling the eastern and southern parts. The ceasefire line has served as the de facto border between Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistani-administered Azad Kashmir.

It was later formalized as the Line of Control (LoC) in the Shimla Agreement of 1972.

The Pakistan-administered area of Kashmir is split into two regions – Azad Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Azad Kashmir

Azad Jammu and Kashmir, commonly known as Azad Kashmir, is a self-governing region located in the northern part of the Pakistan-administered region of Jammu and Kashmir. While Azad Kashmir is administered by Pakistan it has its own government and legislative assembly, but its status as a sovereign entity is not recognized by India. Azad Kashmir has a predominantly Muslim population and is culturally and linguistically distinct from the Indian-administered region of Jammu and Kashmir.

Despite its self-governing status, the region remains politically and economically dependent on Pakistan, and is the focus of ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan. The status of Azad Kashmir and its relationship with Pakistan and India continues to be a source of political and diplomatic dispute, with both sides claiming sovereignty over the region.


Gilgit-Baltistan, also known as Northern Areas, is a self-governing region located in the northern part of the Pakistan-administered region of Jammu and Kashmir.  The region is strategically located at the crossroads of several major trade and cultural routes and has been a source of conflict between India, Pakistan, and China for decades.

While the region is administered by Pakistan, its political status remains unresolved. Gilgit-Baltistan does not have constitutional rights or representation in the Pakistani parliament, and its residents are not considered Pakistani citizens. This has led to a long-standing demand for greater autonomy and political rights in the region.

In recent years, the political situation in Gilgit-Baltistan has become increasingly complex due to several factors, including territorial disputes with India and China, the growth of separatist movements, and increasing Chinese investment in the region.

Indo-China War of 1962 and the second Partition of Kashmir

The Indo-China War of 1962 was a military conflict between India and China over the disputed border in the eastern sector of the Jammu and Kashmir region. The conflict was triggered by China’s territorial claims in the region, particularly in the Aksai Chin area, which India claimed as part of its territory. The 1962 war was triggered by a border dispute between India and China, with both sides accusing the other of violating the existing agreement.

Line of Actual Control (LAC)

The war resulted in a decisive victory for China, with Indian forces suffering heavy losses and being forced to withdraw from much of the territory they had occupied. As a result of the conflict, China occupied Aksai Chin and established the Line of Actual Control (LAC) as a ceasefire line separating Chinese-administered Kashmir (Aksai Chin) from Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

This was the second Partition of Kashmir, and had a profound impact on the state of Kashmir and India, both domestically and internationally. The defeat was a major embarrassment for the Indian government and the military, and led to significant changes in India’s foreign and defense policies. The conflict also led to increased tensions between India and China, with the two countries continuing to dispute their border in the region.

The LAC is not demarcated or clearly marked on the ground, and its exact location has been the subject of dispute and negotiation between India and China. The LAC runs through the Jammu and Kashmir region and separates Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir from Chinese-administered Aksai Chin.

Over the years, tensions between India and China over the LAC have persisted, with a number of military standoffs and incursions reported along the line. The LAC is an important issue in the ongoing Sino-Indian border dispute, and its resolution remains a key challenge in resolving the larger dispute between the two countries over the Jammu and Kashmir region.

Sino-Pakistan Agreement of 1963 and the third Partition of Kashmir

The Trans-Karakoram Tract of Kashmir and its Significance

The Trans-Karakoram Tract of Kashmir is a region located in the northernmost part of the Gilgit-Baltistan region, bordering China and Pakistan. Also known as the Shaksgam tract, the region is strategically important due to its location at the junction of the borders of India, China, and Pakistan and its proximity to the Siachen Glacier and the Karakoram mountain range.

Although the Shaksgam tract was never under the control of Pakistan since 1947, in the 1963 Sino-Pakistan Agreement, Pakistan recognized Chinese sovereignty over the Shaksgam tract, while China recognized Pakistani sovereignty over the Gilgit Agency, and a border based on actual ground positions was recognized as the international border by China and Pakistan. It is claimed by India as part of the Union territory of Ladakh., including the Shaksgam valley. The tract thus came to be administered by China as part of its Taxkorgan and Yecheng counties in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region., resulting in the third Partition of Kashmir

Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 and its Impact on Kashmir

The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 was a major conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir. The war was triggered by a series of skirmishes along the ceasefire line established after the Indo-Pakistan War of 1948, known as the Line of Control (LOC). The conflict escalated into a full-scale war, with both sides mobilizing their armies and engaging in intense fighting.

The war lasted for 17 days, with both sides suffering significant casualties and infrastructure damage. The conflict ultimately resulted in a ceasefire, with the status quo ante bellum being restored and the LOC being reaffirmed as the de facto border between the two countries.

The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 had far-reaching consequences for both India and Pakistan, as well as the people of Kashmir. The conflict marked a turning point in the relationship between the two countries, with tensions and distrust increasing in the aftermath of the war. The war also resulted in the displacement of thousands of people and further exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the region.

Shimla Agreement, 1972

The Shimla Agreement was signed on July 2, 1972, between India and Pakistan following the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. The agreement was signed by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistani President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and aimed to normalize relations between the two countries and resolve their outstanding disputes, including the issue of Kashmir.

Line of Control (LoC)

One of the key provisions of the Shimla Agreeement was to formalize the ceasefire line of 1949 as the Line of Control (LoC). A ceasefire line was established following the first Indo-Pakistan War of 1947-1948, as mentioned above. It was originally agreed upon by India and Pakistan in the 1949 ceasefire agreement that ended hostilities in the region. Since then, the ceasefire line has served as the primary dividing line between the two countries in the Jammu and Kashmir region and has been the scene of ongoing conflict and tension. The Shimla Agreement simply acknowledged it as a Line of Control.

It is not a ratified, stable international border, and the LoC has continued to be the site of frequent military exchanges and cross-border firing, as well as infiltration by militants and border skirmishes. The issue of the LoC remains one of the key challenges in resolving the long-standing conflict between India and Pakistan over the Jammu and Kashmir region.

Siachen Glacier, 1984

The Indian Army captured the Siachen Glacier region of Kashmir in April 1984, which altered the ceasefire line and the Line of Control (LoC). Operation Meghdoot was an Indian military operation conducted in the Siachen Glacier region of Jammu and Kashmir in April 1984. The operation was launched in response to increasing Pakistani military activity in the region and was aimed at securing the Siachen Glacier and its approaches.

The operation involved the deployment of Indian troops to the glacier, who established a series of posts and fortifications along the glacier’s ridgeline. The operation was successful in securing the glacier and preventing Pakistan from establishing a military presence in the region.

So, now Kashmir was looking like this, divided between India, Pakistan, and China –

1989 Kashmir Insurgency and its Impact on the Region

The 1989 Kashmir Insurgency was a separatist movement in the Indian-administered region of Kashmir that lasted for several years. The movement was fueled by a combination of political, economic, and religious factors, with many people in the region feeling disillusioned with the Indian government and seeking greater autonomy.

The insurgency was characterized by widespread violence, with separatist militants engaging in attacks against Indian security forces and civilians. The Indian government responded with a heavy-handed crackdown, with human rights abuses and allegations of extrajudicial killings being reported.

The insurgency had far-reaching consequences for the region and its people. The conflict resulted in significant loss of life, with thousands of people losing their lives and many more being injured or displaced. The conflict also had a profound impact on the economy, with tourism and investment in the region being affected.

The situation in Kashmir has remained tense, with sporadic outbreaks of violence and conflict. The Indian government has continued to maintain a heavy security presence in the region, and the issue of Kashmir remains one of the most contentious and unresolved in South Asia.

Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits and its Impact on the Community

The Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits refers to the mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits, a Hindu minority group in the Indian-administered region of Kashmir, from their homes in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The migration was triggered by the Insurgency of 1989, a wave of violence and persecution against the Pandits, with many being targeted by separatist militants and facing threats, intimidation, and violence.

The migration resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Pandits, with many leaving behind their homes, businesses, and community to escape the violence. The migration had a profound impact on the Pandit community, with many losing their livelihoods and facing significant economic and social hardships as refugees.

The situation of the Pandits remains a source of ongoing tension and controversy in the region, with many calling for their return and resettlement in their homes and the Indian government providing limited assistance and support. The migration also highlights the ongoing political, economic, and religious tensions in the region, and the need for a peaceful and sustainable solution to the issue of Kashmir.

Army Rule in Kashmir

Since the outbreak of insurgency in the late 1980s, the Indian military has played a significant role in maintaining order and suppressing militancy in the region of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian government has declared a state of emergency in the region on multiple occasions, granting the army sweeping powers to maintain order and enforce the law.

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958 is an act of the Parliament of India that grants special powers to the Indian Armed Forces to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1990 was enacted in September, 1990, over the whole state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The army’s presence in Kashmir has had a profound impact on the region and its people. The army has been accused of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture, leading to widespread anger and mistrust towards the security forces. The army’s actions have also led to a decline in civil liberties, with restrictions on freedom of movement and speech, and a clampdown on political activity and dissent.

In addition to its impact on human rights, the army’s rule in Kashmir has had significant economic consequences. The region’s economy has suffered as a result of the conflict and the military crackdown, with businesses closing and unemployment rising. The region’s tourism industry has also been affected, with travelers avoiding the region due to safety concerns.

The army’s rule in Kashmir has also impacted the region’s political and social fabric, with many Kashmiris feeling that their voices and concerns are not being heard or addressed by the government. This has led to widespread resentment and mistrust towards the government, with many Kashmiris feeling that their rights and freedoms are being denied.

Enforced disappearances in Kashmir

There are over 7,000 unmarked graves in Kashmir – a vast majority contain the tortured and mutated bodies of those who were subjected to enforced disappearances. The state not only denies the phenomena of enforced disappearances, but it has also legislated certain laws, like AFSPA, and provided full impunity to the perpetrators, thus protecting them, thereby creating hurdles in acquiring justice. The Association for Parents of the Disappeared (APDP) states that there are over 8,000 to 10,000 civilians enforced disappeared.

Javaid Ahmad Ahangar of 16 years of age was picked up from his home on August 18, 1990, and never to be found again. His mother, Parveena, began an unending search for him and in the process organized an entire group of family members also looking for their loved ones. The result of such an ongoing search is APDP – Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, with Parveena Ahangar as the Founder and Chairperson. For over a quarter of a century APDP, with the leadership of Parveena, has been fighting for justice and demanding answers from the state about the whereabouts of all such 8000 to 10,000 missing Kashmiris.

Mass rapes in Kashmir

Indian forces have sexually assaulted and gang-raped Kashmir women with impunity for decades. More than 11,000 women have suffered mass rapes in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir during the past three decades, according to a report from a local news outlet, which added that another 2,342 women were martyred as well.

Indian forces’ aggression and violence in the illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir region has also left close to 23,000 women widowed, the Kashmir Media Service (KMS) said in its report earlier today, published in light of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The Indian forces use harassment and molestation as a weapon of war to not only suppress Kashmir’s liberation struggle but to deter activists and leaders from their campaigns using fear that the women they love would be subjected to sexual abuse.

Kargil war in Kashmir, 1999

The Kargil War was a military conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July of 1999 in the Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir, India. The conflict was sparked by the infiltration of Pakistani militants and soldiers into the Kargil region, which lies near the Line of Control (LOC) separating Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

The conflict began in May of 1999, when Indian military officials discovered that Pakistani militants and soldiers had infiltrated the Kargil region and were occupying high-altitude mountain posts that provided strategic advantage over the surrounding area. In response, India launched a military operation to drive out the intruders and secure its side of the LOC.

The Kargil War was a difficult and intense conflict, fought at high altitude in harsh terrain conditions. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the Indian military was able to drive out the Pakistani militants and soldiers and secure its side of the LOC. The conflict resulted in the deaths of more than 500 Indian soldiers and an estimated 4,000 Pakistani militants and soldiers.

The Kargil War had significant implications for both India and Pakistan, as well as for the broader South Asian region. It brought the two countries to the brink of a full-scale war and raised tensions between them to a new level. The conflict also drew international attention to the ongoing Kashmir dispute and highlighted the need for a lasting solution to the conflict in the region.

Reorganization of Kashmir Act of 2019, and the fourth partition of Kashmir

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 is a piece of legislation passed by the Indian government that reorganizes the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The act was passed on August 5th, 2019 and became effective on October 31st, 2019.

The main provisions of the act include the bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two separate Union Territories, the imposition of central rule in the region, the abrogation of the special constitutional status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, and the granting of greater powers to the central government in the administration of the region.

While the official map released by India looks like this –

However, the reality on the ground is going to look like this –

In effect, this is another splitting of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and by our count, the fourth partition of Kashmir.

The act has been the subject of much controversy and criticism, both within India and internationally. Critics argue that it undermines the democratic rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and that it represents a power grab by the central government at the expense of the region’s autonomy. Supporters of the act argue that it will help to integrate the region more closely with the rest of India, and that it will provide greater economic and political stability to the region.

The impact of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act remains the subject of much debate and discussion, and the future of the region remains uncertain. However, it is clear that the act has had a significant impact on the political, social, and economic landscape of Jammu and Kashmir, and will continue to shape the region for years to come.

Abrogation of Article 370 on Kashmir

Article 370 of the Indian Constitution granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, allowing the region to have its own constitution and granting it significant autonomy. However, in August 2019, the Indian government abrogated Article 370, effectively stripping the region of its special status and integrating it fully into the Indian Union.

The abrogation of Article 370 has had a significant impact on the region of Jammu and Kashmir. The most immediate impact was the imposition of a curfew and communication blackout, with restrictions on movement and the suspension of internet and telephone services. These measures were taken to prevent unrest and maintain order in the aftermath of the abrogation, but have been criticized by human rights organizations as excessive and unjustified.

The abrogation of Article 370 has also had a significant impact on the political and social fabric of the region. Many Kashmiri political leaders, including former chief ministers of the state, were arrested and detained, and there have been reports of increased human rights abuses and incidents of violence. The move has also created tension with Pakistan, with both countries accusing each other of violating the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) that separates Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

In terms of its economic impact, the abrogation of Article 370 has led to uncertainty and a decline in investment in the region, as well as a slowdown in tourism. The region’s trade and commerce have been affected, with the majority of business activity coming to a halt in the aftermath of the abrogation.

Citizenship Amendment Act and its Impact on Kashmir

The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is a controversial piece of legislation passed by the Indian government in December 2019 that amended the Citizenship Act of 1955. The CAA provides a fast-track route to citizenship for non-Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who entered India before 2015.

The CAA has been met with widespread protests and opposition in India, with critics arguing that the law is discriminatory and undermines the secular foundations of the Indian constitution. In Kashmir, the CAA has been met with particular concern, with many people in the region feeling that the law will undermine the distinct cultural and religious identity of the region.

The situation in Kashmir remains tense, with the Indian government maintaining a heavy security presence in the region. The issue of the CAA and its impact on Kashmir highlights the ongoing political, economic, and religious tensions in the region, and the need for a peaceful and sustainable solution to the issue of Kashmir.

Concluding thoughts on the Partitions of Kashmir

The political situation of Kashmir is complex, and continues to become even more complex with the passage of time. The conflict in Kashmir is probably one of the most negative impacts of the Partition of India and Pakistan. While it is not common to refer to these divisions of Kashmir as “Partitions of Kashmir,” we have come to understand through our research that it is likely the most appropriate description of the balkanization of Kashmir in the last eight decades, and to make meaningful connections with the Partition of India in 1947. It set up a domino effect that is still playing out in the region of Kashmir in the form of multiple partitions.