Describe the condition of Pandits and Muslims in Kashmir before the Treaty of Amritsar and the changes that took place after the Treaty was implemented. In what ways have forces external to Kashmir contributed to the conflict in the region during the colonial and post-colonial periods?
The argument can be sustained that external forces have significantly contributed to Kashmir conflict for hundreds of years, within which the post-Treaty of Amritsar period is a relatively small potion. From the rise of the Islamist tyrant to the Kashmir throne in 1349, the region has been locked in various, seemingly indeterminate conflicts where the regional political players may change, but underlying, fundamental and irreconcilable religious tension is the single unifying historical thread (Zutshi, 2004). The Pandits and Muslim interplays both prior and post Treaty are explored against this backdrop.
Given the long Kashmir past has marked the region as a place where conflict is the norm, there is no surprise that the Kashmir continues to be a lightning rod for the entire region. It is the proposition that contributes to the examination of how external forces have exerted significant, and largely negative influences over the Kashmir to the present day.
1. Pandits and Muslims
The Pandits are the inheritors of the most ancient Hindu Brahmin traditions. The Pandits recognize the vedas, ancient Sanskrit sources of Hindu wisdom, as their core religious authority (Bose,1997). There is little wonder at why the Pandits and Muslim people might be natural antagonists. Each faith believes its followers to be part of a true world religion, where the message is eternal and sustaining. Where Islam professes its rigid adherence to Allah, the only God, whose word was communicated directly to the Prophet Mohammed, the Hindu faith “… does not claim any one Prophet, it does not worship any one God, it does not believe in any one philosophic concept, it does not follow any one act of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not satisfy the traditional features of a religion or creed. It is a way of life and nothing more”.
The 1846 Treaty of Amritsar, formalized the earlier Treaty of Lahore negotiated between the British East India Company and Maharaja Gulab Singh Dogra. The Treaty permitted Gulab Singh to most of modern Kashmir, in exchange for an annual fee paid to the British Government. During the Dogra rule that continued until 1947, the Pandits were a Kashmir region minority (Bose, 204). The 1947 Partition, subsequent military conflict and Muslim land reforms after 1950 drove some of the community into India. Between 1985 and 1995, most Pandits left Kashmir; many living in refugee camps in adjacent Indian Jammu state (UN, 2013).
2. External forces and regional Kashmiri conflict
The first recent external force that exerted itself on Kashmir in the modern history was Great Britain. In 1947, as Britain moved closer to determining how an...