….Kashmiris often claim………they have been slaves of foreign rulers since the sixteenth century…….In the chaos of post-Mogul India, with the old empire rapidly disintegrating, Afghan and Sikh invaders plundered Kashmir at will…………..Barbaric rules were imposed in the early nineteenth century: a Sikh who killed a Muslim native of Kashmir was fined no more than two rupees. Victor Jacquemont……………….in 1831, thought that ‘nowhere else in India were the masses as poor and denuded as they were in Kashmir’
………the valley fell in the mid-nineteenth century to a petty Hindu feudal chief who had helped the British defeat the Sikhs. The British ceded the entire state – the valley together with Hindu-majority Jammu, Buddhist-majority Ladakh and the noth-western parts that later were to come under Pakistan’s rule – to the chief for a meager sum of Rs 7.5 m. The sale is still a source of rage and shame for Kashmiris.
Things didn’t improve much under the new Hindu rulers. In 1877, a famine killed two-thirds of the population………..Muslims were rarely given jobs; the administration was staffed overwhelmingly by the small minority of Hindus (about % of the population in the valley.) The Maharaja and his Hindu courtiers built up fabulous private fortunes.
………………Kashmiri Muslims under Hindu rule………..although they formed 96% of the population the rate of literacy among them was only 0.8%
……(Sheikh) Abdullah’s own view of the demand for Pakistan was more qualified and less emotional. He felt, as he confessed in his autobiography, a subconscious sympathy for it; he saw it as a Muslim reaction against Hindu sectarianism, which he believed, despite his personal regard for Gandhi and Nehru, the Congress party insidiously practiced. Indeed, he thought he could discern strains of Hindu revivalism in Nehru’s sentimental attachment to Kashmir.
……..As usually happens, the lack of a political alternative turned Abdullah into an authoritarian ruler……………he interpreted all opposition to him as an attempt to undermine his personal authority………….He had bargained hard with the Indian government to preserve the state from excessive interference by New Delhi……………He now revived his idea of an independent Kashmir…………..Nehru……felt Abdullah moving away from him and towards a course of action that was likely to end in the loss of Kashmir and India’s secular credentials. He was quick to act: Abdullah was dismissed in 1953 and put in prison, where he stayed, initially without trial, for all but four months of the next eleven years.
This sound rather unbecoming of Nehru, who by then was known internationally as a statesman. He had praised Abdullah’s land reforms; he had ensured there was no viable opposition to Abdullah; he had offered personal friendship to him. But now Abdullah was working against the ‘national interest’.
Approximately 130,000 Kashmiri Hindus left the valley within two months of the insurgency beginning; few have been able to return.
Although the Tibetans are a politically diverse group, they generally agree that since the Chinese communists invaded Tibet in 1950, they have killed – mostly through execution, torture and starvation – up to 1.2 million people and have destroyed tens of thousands of Buddhist monasteries and temples.
Five songs - Judith und Holofernes, by Gustav Klimt, 1901 (detail) I've written before of my struggle to appreciate art songs (see "The Songs of Erich Korngold and Re...
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