Kashmir: is this a re-run of 1989?

August 12, 2008

Protesters shout pro-freedom slogans in Srinagar/Fayaz KabliAfter months of relative peace which turned Kashmir into a near-forgotten conflict, the region has exploded  again with some of the biggest protests since a separatist revolt erupted in 1989.  What started as a dispute over land allocated to Hindu pilgrims visiting a shrine in Kashmir has snowballed into a full-scale anti-India protest, uniting Kashmiri separatists and reviving calls for independence.

The dispute has also pitted Muslims in Kashmir against Hindus in Jammu – the two regions which along with Ladakh make up the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir – in what is the biggest communal crisis faced by the central government in Delhi since it took office in 2004.

At stake is the risk of the “Balkanisation” of Jammu and Kashmir comparable to the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. In this, worst case, scenario, the state would break up into its three different regions with Jammu and Ladakh favouring India and Kashmir either battling for independence or tilting towards Pakistan.  (The state is the part of the former kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir which remained in Indian hands at partition in 1947 with the other side controlled by Pakistan.)

Little wonder then that analysts in India are describing it as a major crisis, with an editorial in the Hindustan Times calling it the greatest test for the central government since it took office.

And although some Indian analysts have accused Pakistan of stoking tensions in Kashmir, the protests look to be, at least in large measure, spontaneous.

Kashmir protesters/Fayaz KabliSo is this a re-run of 1989? At the time separatist sentiments – which had been simmering before 1947 when the kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir was ruled by a Hindu maharajah from Jammu – erupted into full-scale protests which were primarily Kashmiri nationalist rather than religious.  According to the Kashmiri version of history, India then tried to crush the revolt with a clumsy heavy-handedness that only inflamed Kashmiri anger further.

The revolt turned increasingly lethal and vicious — in part due to Pakistan’s involvement in supporting the separatists and to the Islamist influence of the mujahideen who had fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. After Pakistan and India tested nuclear bombs in 1998, Kashmir was dubbed the most dangerous place on earth, bringing the two countries to the brink of war in 2001/2002.

So if today’s protests turn out to be a re-run of 1989, the outlook is grim — both for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and for the peace process between India and Pakistan. Is there still time to find a solution before Kashmir spins off into another 20 years of violence? Or have the troubles already passed the point of no return?


Hi Indian brethern, I am a Kashmiri and carry the same emotions as every kashmiri does. When I was in my teens.I too this feeling that Hurriyat and Pak is playing with the lives of Kashmir because i saw every good thing coming from India- ration,packages and the other economy. And before that age when i was just a kid in early 90s, there were the Freedom slogans, Hum kya chahte Azadi! We as the children or the ignorant folks without knowing the cause shouting the same and followed blindly.Now I am a grown up and began to understand why there is a dearth need of freedom. Coz all those things which we kept in our subconciousness began to foreplay. In the last few years which we saw as peace was returning, kashmir was regaining the paradise,actually was a day dreaming for the kashmir,we wanted to escape from the harsh realites which Indo-Pak marked on our minds and hearts. Now the recent episodes lead the Valleyians to recaptulate all those things which he faced since 1947.It includes the pak raids,the brutality of Maharaja towards Muslims,Scrutiny of Indian forces- there were masscre,rapes,killings,disappearences,ni ght tortures,crackdowns and the worst human rights voilations in early 90s,where were these Indian agencies at that time? Or when the kashmiries were attacked outside the state and they were even abducted. Ask any outside kashmiri,they feel alienated in so called their own motherland. They are considered outsiders there,so from where can this feeling come that they are Indians. Today when we commentators comments against Kashmir or Kashmiryat,it pours the salt on the wounds of Kashmir.So we have to know Kashmir history first inorder to understand these critical situations prevailing in Kashmir.Kashmir was a princely state and it was the kashmiri who cud have decided their choice at that time but dirty politics of Indo Pak didnt let us to do so,instead they divided us.Where were the India at that when Kashmir was sold by the Britishers and Maharaja ruled the reign of terror… Now those who post comments today are unaware of ground reality,green flags or going to Muzafarabad doesnt mean Pakistan,it simply means to have the Independence or atleast to reunite with them POK.So dear friends and humane brothers i suggest to go thru the history first…


Kashmir belongs to the Kashmiri people, let them decide what they want. Indian should go home to India. Pakistan must set an example by cleaning their own house of extremist, so that kashmiri people may one day want to have a union with them. India is trying very hard to tell the world that Tibet belongs to Tibetan people and China should respect their rights, but with same breath it denies the very same rights to people of Kashmir and Negaland.

Posted by Denali | Report as abusive

What US and allied forces are doing in Afganistan,India alone is doing,FIGHTING TERRORISTS in Kashmir.The only thing i feel sorry about is that India is not fighting the evil from the root.Kashmir is India and if Pakistan does not understand it,India should once for all go across the LOC and teach the bastards a lesson which they will remember for the rest of their life.
Mr.Bush thought of Musharaf as an ally in the fight against terrorism but all the billions pumped into Pakistan has only shown the muslim brotherhood will not let a muslim brother down.

Posted by prabhakur | Report as abusive

I totally agree with you sohail.India is not taking the right decision.With these bastards the terrorists ,firepower is the ONLY language they understand.India has enough to erdicate them

wake up India.

Posted by prabhakur | Report as abusive

UMPK & other’s like you in this chain,

i reckon you are far from reality, when you say India should vacate Kashmir, I just wanna laugh on you :-) !! You are telling us whose kashmir is integral part and we have not invaded this part of land or any other land and WILL NEVER EVER LEAVE or ANYONE TO ENTER THIS LAND.

I think next months will be decisive for India as they have to show courage and crush these foreign forces out of Kashmir. All those separatists are free to go to Pakistan and they should have gone decades ago so Kashmir would be safe heaven now as it used to be.

No matter what comes up this time, India is not going to be quite and see these dramas as they fold. Every inch would in integral to India.

Posted by Sandy | Report as abusive

Sorry Sohail, forgot to thank you for your remarks but Prabhakur remembered it :-).

Nice one folks, we need to be more active and assertive, need to crush these foreign elements in blog world now..

Posted by Sandy | Report as abusive

its simple:
1) kashmir is an integral part of India
2) everyone who doesn’t want to live in the nation can get out!

today its the kashmiris, tomorrow it will be the nagas and assamese, then the punjabis, then the mizos, what the heck!?!? what concept is this of a nationhood!?

my motherland can’t be divided over a bunch of immature fighting children..period!

Posted by Girish | Report as abusive


Kashmir will never become independent. Also Pak or India will never give up a piece of land with them. The only practical solution available is to accept LoC as international border. Kashmir should retain its special status even after this.

Posted by NoName | Report as abusive

dear all,

kashmiris are behaving like spoilt children, only protesting and crying when they have the most freedom in india. enough of crying of kashmiris. kashmiris should decide, whether article 370 goes away and full integration with india or death. unless govt. of india comes to this conclusion, these ungrateful kashmiris, whose source of food and freedom is indian people and indian constitution, will go on protesting and crying. spank the kashmiris soon.

Posted by subhash | Report as abusive

There can be no justice until the 400,000 Pandits are able to regain their lands! Muslims you do not like India– move to your failed state Pakistan. Only ungrates live off Indian dole and complain. Even as far back as the 80′s a promient journalist said that were was systematic discrimination of the Hindus by the Muslims. M 1500 Hindu and Buddhist temples destroyed in Kashmir! Perhaps Hindus should start repaying with violence because some people do not understand….you do not like it in India, leave! The great civilization you create in Pakistan is evident in Azad Kashmir and how developed it is as compared to the side fed by Indian money.

Posted by Kali | Report as abusive

No justice blah blah blah. See if we care. Kashmir is now Muslim territory and will remain Muslim territory, hence why Kashmir WILL become apart of Pakistan, and it won’t stop there.

The prime reason for the creation of Pakistan was not only for a homeland for the Muslims, but to reclaim the subcontinent once again under a United Islamic India.

Kashmir is only the first step.

Posted by Ilyas Abbasi | Report as abusive

There are so many suggestions and comments going on about kashmir,Some of the comments about hindus being killed in Kashmir is totally baseless.Indians should appreciate the fact that despite the terror,arson,killing of Kashmiri Muslims by VHP,BJP and SHIV SENA Terrorists,none of the Yatris was touched or harmed,The Yatris were rather fed by Kashmiri Locals who in every sense are peacefull.
India would be better if accept the right of self determination as soon as possible.
India has been completely rejected by People of kashmir,If any body has a slight doubt then Please look at the mass demonstrations(all kashmiris in unison and have only one slogan (WE WANT FREEDOM)


india has cosidered the kashmir as a prestige point thats root of the problem,,i think india should leave the kashmir,,they are just consuming our valuble money.they will not be able to stand on their own,,,,let all such elements go..we are just wasting the future of our own children with this kashmir in our hands.to much money ,,to much army and most importantly our concentration…

Posted by RAJENDRA | Report as abusive

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