India – Kashmir (1947 – first combat deaths)

Tasneem Jamal Asia

Updated: June 2015
Summary
Type of Conflict
Parties to the Conflict
Status of the Fighting
Number of Deaths
Political Developments
Background
Arms Sources

The Conflict at a Glance

Who (are the main combatants): The Government of India has remained in conflict with the Government of Pakistan and Kashmiri rebel groups, which are supported by the Pakistani Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, over longstanding territorial disputes involving Kashmir.

What (started the conflict): Following the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, Kashmir had the option of joining India or Pakistan and joined India. Over the years, various militant groups have targeted government officials and security forces.

When (has fighting occurred): Since India and Pakistan declared independence in 1947, control over Kashmir has been disputed. In 1965 a territorial war broke out between the two states. In 1972, after rigorous peace negotiations, the Simla Agreement to minimize conflict in the region was reached and the Line of Control was established. In 2003 both governments agreed to a ceasefire agreement, but tensions remain, with cross-border fire flaring up in 2014.

Where (has the conflict taken place): The conflict continues in the disputed Kashmir territory that connects India and Pakistan. Pakistan controls approximately 35 per cent of the territory; India controls the Jammu and Kashmir region, which makes up about 45 per cent of Kashmir; and China controls the remaining 20 per cent.

 

Summary

2015 India and Pakistan engaged in a war of words and gunfire. In May and June Pakistan’s military repeatedly accused India of encouraging terrorism in Pakistan (The Washington Post). In June Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that Pakistan promoted terrorism in India (India Today). The heated rhetoric led to intensified cross-border fighting in July, August, and September. However, in September, a pair of bilateral meetings eased tensions. In December, visits to Pakistan by Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Prime Minister Narendra Modi further reduced the strain.

2014 Fatalities increased, with 193 insurgency-related deaths in Jammu and Kashmir. General and state elections led to heightened violence as militant groups called for an election boycott and threatened civilians. Despite this, voter turnout was reportedly 66 per cent—the highest in 25 years.A large protest of elections took place in the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir. Stalled talks between India and Pakistan were reignited at the beginning of the year, but collapsed in August. August and October saw intensified cross-border fire between India and Pakistan.

2013 Ten years after the 2003 ceasefire agreement, frictions between Pakistan, India, and militants grew, with 200 small violations of the Line of Control in 2013. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, fatalities increased from 117 in 2012 to 181 in 2013, including 100 militants, 61 security officials, and 20 civilians. Security forces and government officials continued to be targeted by militant groups. In March, the Hizul Mujahedeen militant group killed five members of the Indian Central Reserve Police Force. In June, on the eve of Indian Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, eight more security officials were killed and 14 injured by militants. Government officials in India executed Pakistani Mohammed Ajmal, a member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamist group, in November 2012 and Afzal Guru in February 2013. The Indian government was accused of “selective executions.” After the region experienced heavy gunfire in September, the leaders of Pakistan and India met in New York to discuss the possibility of finding common ground and re-instituting the 2003 ceasefire agreement. There was fear in both countries that fighting would intensify when the United States withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014. Human Rights Watch called for India to change its Armed Forces Special Powers Act, following a Military Court ruling in early January 2014 that dismissed Indian officials’ accountability for five extrajudicial killings in 2000. The Act also grants immunity to officials who commit gross human rights violations.

2012 Conflict remained at a low level in 2012, with approximately 117 deaths reported. Turnout was high for local elections. Civil society continued to protest the 1990 Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Rebel groups formed and splintered. In 2012 the Harkat-ul-Ansar resumed operations under a new name, with factions from Lashkar-e-Toiba and other groups.

2011 Violent incidents and fatalities fell to their lowest levels in years. The Indian government’s announcement to pull troops from Kashmir was met with skepticism. Political assassinations continued. Bilateral talks between India and Pakistan led to the opening of trade and travel routes across the border in Kashmir.

2010 The downward trend in violence seen in recent years stalled, with fatalities at 2009 levels. India, citing an increase in militancy, halted its withdrawal of troops in January. According to Indian security officials, an estimated 700 militant rebels were operating in Jammu and Kashmir, with another 2,500 waiting in Pakistan. In February, Indian and Pakistani officials met for the first time since the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. A chain of violent protests, beginning in June, killed more than 100 civilians. Some analysts linked these protests to terrorist activity; others characterized them as independent acts of civil disobedience.

2009 Violence in Kashmir continued to decline in 2009. Officials reported 377 deaths, a 25-per-cent decrease from 2008. India’s announced that it would withdraw 30,000 troops was met with skepticism by separatists. India and Pakistan announced they were ready to resume peace talks that were suspended in November 2008 after the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

2008 The downward trend in violence continued in 2008, despite fears that the November state election could spark more rebel attacks. Twelve civilians were killed during the largely successful election. Earlier in the year, a land dispute between Muslims and Hindus prompted protests that killed more than 50 people, often as a result of clashes with Indian security forces. India and Pakistan renewed peace talks. Approximately 541 conflict deaths were reported for the year.

2007 Hostilities reached a 17-year low in 2007, despite concerns about the effect Pakistan’s political instability would have on the peace negotiations. India blamed Islamic militants for the February bombing of a Lahore-Delhi train that killed 60 people. Commercial trucks crossed the India-Pakistan border at Wagah for the first time since partition. Estimates placed the year’s death toll at more than 800.

2006 Peace talks between the Indian and Pakistani governments led to the establishment of new transportation routes between Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Although there was limited progress, peace talks continued. Overall, violence was down, but an estimated 1,000 people were killed.

2005 Peace talks between India and Pakistan yielded several agreements, including one to withdraw troops from the disputed Siachen glacier. Peace talks between the Indian government and a coalition of moderate Kashmiri militants resumed, but saw little progress. Fighting continued between Kashmiri rebels and the Indian government, killing more than 1,700 people. A large earthquake in October devastated the region and neighbouring areas, claiming more than 70,000 lives and spurring a massive international relief operation.

2004 Several clashes between Indian security forces and rebels, as well as rebel attacks on political and civilian targets, killed 1,800 people, fewer than in previous years. Unprecedented negotiations between the Indian government and moderate separatist groups began early in the year, but failed to produce anything beyond an agreement to end violence. Hard-line militant groups, meanwhile, continued a violent campaign against Indian control of Kashmir. Peace negotiations between India and Pakistan made little progress. India did withdrew more than 1,000 soldiers from Kashmir late in the year.

2003 Relations between India and Pakistan improved and, in November, both governments agreed to a formal ceasefire along the Line of Control. Many insurgents refused to accept the ceasefire and continued attacking Indian security forces and civilians in the disputed area, resulting in over 2,000 deaths. The Indian government’s unprecedented offer to meet with a political secessionist group, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, signaled a significant shift in government policy.

2002 Civilians continued to be targeted by Islamic militants and caught in the crossfire between Indian and Pakistani troops. State election violence killed an estimated 600 people. Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated to the brink of war in June, but stabilized after Pakistan agreed to end the infiltration of armed separatists across the Line of Control.

2001 Violence continued throughout Kashmir in 2001, with suicide bombings, bombings and attacks on the Indian army. In May, the Indian army resumed operations against separatist rebels, marking the end of the ceasefire. In December, an Islamic suicide squad attacked the parliamentary complex in New Delhi. A July summit between India and Pakistan ended without an agreement, both sides citing Kashmir as stumbling block.

2000 Hostilities persisted in Kashmir, with numerous attacks on civilians. The year saw a sharp increase in fighting between Pakistani-backed Islamic militants and Indian forces, particularly in the disputed Line of Control border area. The intensity of violence declined after the Indian government extended a November unilateral ceasefire and took steps early in 2001 to initiate peace talks with militants. Conflict fatalities increased to more than  2,600—the highest total in four years, according to one source.

1999 Major fighting between Indian forces and Islamic militants backed by Pakistani troops in the disputed Line of Control border area lasted eight weeks, until Pakistan agreed to a withdrawal of insurgents in July. Within Kashmir, attacks on civilians and extrajudicial killings by Indian security forces accompanied an increase in separatist attacks on government troops.

1998 Gun battles between separatists and Indian security forces, extrajudicial executions and militant attacks on civilians, especially Hindu villages, continued, but at a lower level than in 1997. A buildup of Indian and Pakistani troops at the contested Kashmir border following May nuclear weapon tests by both countries led to heavier and more deadly artillery exchanges.

1997 Militant separatists and Indian government troops continued to clash during the year, with both groups carrying out extrajudicial executions. In August, Indian and Pakistani troops resumed artillery exchanges along the disputed Kashmir border.

1996 Cross-border artillery exchanges between Pakistani and Indian forces, gun battles between Indian troops and separatist groups, bombings of civilian targets and election-related attacks marked 1996.

1995 A major counterinsurgency operation in April and the May burning of the town of Charar-e-Sharif punctuated a year of sporadic gunfights between rebels and government security forces in which hundreds died.

Type of Conflict
State formation

Parties to the Conflict

1. Government of India: From 2004 until May 2014, the government was led by Manmohan Singh (Indian National Congress Party) and the United Progressive Alliance coalition. After May elections, Narendra Modi, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, became the new prime minister. Since 1947 India has maintained a massive military presence in Kashmir to demonstrate its claim to sovereignty. The Indian government has never released the official number of troops stationed in Jammu and Kashmir; current estimates of military and paramilitary forces range from 300,000 to 500,000. According to The Military Balance, Indian armed forces comprise:

  • Army: 1,150,900
  • Air Force: 127,200
  • Navy: 58,350
  • Coast Guard: 9,550
  • Paramilitary: 1,403,700.

Versus

2. Government of Pakistan: Pakistan is currently led by President Mamnoon Hussain (leader of Pakistan Muslim League), who was elected July 30, 2013. Since 1947, Pakistan has also maintained a military presence on its side of the Line of Control (i.e., the border separating Pakistani-administered Kashmir and Indian-administered Kashmir) to demonstrate its claim to sovereignty. According to The Military Balance, the armed forces of Pakistan consist of:

  • Army: 550,000
  • Navy: 23,800
  • Air Force: 70,000
  • Paramilitary: 304,000.

3. Kashmiri Rebel Groups: according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, conflict in Kashmir involves 17 active rebel groups, more than half of which are legally banned in India. Prominent groups include, but are not limited to:

a. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front: Their origin can be traced to the Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Front formed in 1977. A splinter group formed in 1995 under the same name. Both groups share the goal of an independent Kashmir but part ways on how to achieve it. One group has embraced violence while the other recently renounced violence in favour of other forms of protest.

b. All Parties Hurriyat Conference: Formed in 1993 as an alliance of secessionist parties and leaders, its aim is the separation of Kashmir from India. The conference split in 2003 when one faction adopted a more moderate stand.

c. Muttahida Jehad Council (i.e., United Jihad Council):It was  formed in 1990 to bring under a single umbrella all 16 groups involved in terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

d. Lashkar-e-Toiba: Formed in Afghanistan in 1990, it became a presence in Kashmir in 1993. It calls for an independent Kashmir and the restoration of Islamic rule over all of India. It is linked with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

e. Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen: Formed in 1989 as the militant wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami (an Islamist organization), it aims to integrate Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan. It has ISI links.

f. Jaish-e-Mohammed: It was formed in 2000 by the ISI. As part of the Islamist terror network in Jammu and Kashmir, its goal is to force the withdrawal of Indian security forces from the region. It is linked with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, as well as Sunni terrorist groups operating in Pakistan.

g. Harkat-ul-Mujahedeen: It formed in 1985 to fight the Soviet-backed communist government in Afghanistan. When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, the group focused  on removing Indian forces from Jammu and Kashmir. It is liked with the ISI and, according to U.S. reports, al-Qaeda.

h. The Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA) has reportedly resumed operations under a new name, Jabbar-ul-Mujahideen (JuM). The HuA includes members from Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM). The JuM was established in Lahore, Pakistan in 2013 under commander-in-chief Shah Chand Khan. JuM is believed to have close links with the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network that is fighting NATO Forces and the Afghan government in Afghanistan.

Supported by:

4. The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence: Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency has been accused by India of training, funding, arming and providing logistics to separatist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir.

Status of Fighting

2015 Gunfire across the Line of Control and the India-Pakistan working boundary in Kashmir in late December 2014 and early January 2015 killed 15 soldiers and one civilian (International Crisis Group).On April 13 the Indian army killed a militant and his non-combatant brother. Subsequent violent protests injured at least six. India also reportedly fired shells into Pakistan, damaging houses and putting Pakistani forces on high alert. In India’s Punjab state on July 10 people, including three soldiers, were killed in fights between police and gunmen (International Crisis Group). In August a clash between Pakistani and Indian forces across the Line of Control killed nine civilians and wounded 63 (International Crisis Group). The violence spilled over into September, despite ongoing efforts to lower tensions.

2014 Fatalities increased in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), there were 193 insurgency-related fatalities: 32 civilians, 51 security force personnel, and 110 insurgents. Numbers of major incidents, explosions, and suicide attacks were consistent with those in 2013. Twenty-one major incidents killed 107; two suicide attacks killed 29, and 15 explosions left six dead. During legislative elections from November 25 to December 20, Jammu and Kashmir experienced a spike in violence. On December 5, prior to Narendra Modi’s election rally in the region, four militant attacks took place in the Kashmir Valley; an attack on an army camp at Uri resulted in the deaths of eight army soldiers, three police, and six militants. During the general elections this year, SATP blamed terrorism-related activity for 13 deaths. Cross-border fire between India and Pakistan intensified in August, killing at least 12, and in October, killing at least 20 civilians in one of the most serious incidents of cross-border fire since 2003. A top commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Javed Ahmad Mir, was killed during a confrontation with police on January 20. On June 23, Mehmood Bhai, a top Pakistani commander of Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) militant group, was killed in a gun battle with security forces in north Kashmir.

2013 Despite a decline in violent incidents since 2011– by 35 per cent according to the Union Home Minister — friction between Pakistan, India and militant groups continued. In January, Pakistan accused the Indian army of killing a Pakistani soldier, and two days later India blamed Pakistan for killing two soldiers, beheading one. Friction between the two countries was amplified by rebel groups that continued to target security and government officials. In March, Hizul Mujahedeen militants killed five members of the Central Reserve Police Force. In June, on the eve of Indian Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, eight security officials were killed and 14 injured by militants. Indian officials killed JeM militant commander Qari Yasir in July. In September, 350 former militants were reintegrated into Indian-controlled Kashmir in rehabilitation efforts. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister claimed that dialogue was needed with those who benefit from ongoing violence.

2012 The Indian government claimed that 2012 was one of the most peaceful years in its history. The South Asian Terrorism Portal reported a “steep decline in terrorism-related fatalities, from 183 in 2011 to 117 in 2012.” The U.S. State Department confirmed the total, with 84 alleged terrorists, 17 members of the security forces and 16 civilians killed. According to nongovernmental organizations, the 1990 Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has allowed the army to act with impunity in Kashmir. The JKCCS reported eight extrajudicial killings. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah advocated a partial withdrawal of the AFSPA. In October the Union Home Minister indicated that, with further security improvements, the Act might be lifted, although no timeline was given. Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole terrorist captured alive after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was found guilty of waging war against India. After what was deemed a free and fair trial, the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence and he was hanged in late 2012. The Srinagar-based Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons reported that two persons disappeared in 2012, with no investigation by the government. Reports of the number of persons declared missing during the conflict vary widely. Human rights organizations cited as many as 10,000 persons missing in Jammu and Kashmir; the Jammu and Kashmir state government claimed 2,305, with only 182 reports filed.

2011 The year began on a positive note with the Indian government stating it would cut the number of troops in Kashmir by 25 per cent. The promise was met with skepticism; the Indian government has never officially released figures of the number of troops stationed in Kashmir. Although border clashes and militant attacks continued, violent incidents were at the lowest levels in years. Twenty of 24 regions were either free of militancy or experienced a very limited number of violent incidents. Militant border infiltrations were also at a 20-year low, according to Crisis Watch and the South Asia Terrorism Portal. Attacks on political leaders continued, with four attacks killing the intended targets. The most notable was the April killing of Moulana Showkat Shah, chief of the moderate separatist group Jammu and Kashmir Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadith, by a targeted bomb.

2010 India halted its withdrawal of troops in January, citing an increase in the number of rebels in Jammu and Kashmir. In Pakistani-administered Kashmir, the United Jihad Council held a rally in the town of Muzaffarabad. Rebels maintained that jihad was the only means of freeing Kashmir from “Indian occupation.” There were only a handful of reported border disputes. Although militants continued to infiltrate Indian-administered Kashmir, protests emphasized civil disobedience. Between June and September, protesters defied curfew and marched through the streets, burning buses and hurling stones at police and security stations. Police and security forces retaliated with tear gas and rubber bullets. More than 100 civilians were killed. A tentative calm settled in November, brought on by a combination of rebel arrests, strict curfews, removal of security forces, release of protesters and the appointment of three interlocutors.

2009 March brought the year’s first deadly firefight. Violence continued during the year. From August through November there was a normal summer rise in infiltration attempts by militants. By October, violence was at its lowest since 1989. At the end of October, India announced it would withdraw 15,000 troops from Kashmir in a move to increase prospects for peace talks with separatist groups. By the end of 2009, police reports stated that violence was down by 25 per cent from the previous year. In response, India announced it would pull 30,000 troops from the region. Separatists remained skeptical.

2008 The Home Ministry stated that, for the first 10 months of 2008, terrorist attacks were down 39 per cent, civilian killings 41 per cent and security forces killings 31 per cent. State elections, held late in the year, saw a 63-per-cent voter turnout despite a call by rebel groups to boycott the election. Violent incidents were down 86 per cent from the last state election in 2002. Twelve civilians were killed in 2008–a 95-per-cent decrease from the 220 killed in 2002. A Hindu-Muslim land dispute in mid-year killed more than 50 civilians.

2007 Fighting was sporadic and violence fell to the lowest level in 17 years. In February, the bombing of a Lahore-Delhi train killed 60 and was attributed by some Indian security forces to Pakistani jihadis. Also in February, a strike in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar broke out after high-ranking Indian officials were accused of five civilian “encounter killings”–a term applied to killings of individuals accused by police or military forces of being anti-Indian militants for motives that could range from personal revenge to greed for the cash reward. In November, someone broke into the home of India’s High Commissioner in Pakistan, prompting protests from Delhi against reported Pakistani terrorism. The rebel group Hizbul Mujahideen promised to stop grenade attacks on civilians. Peace negotiations between India and Pakistan made little progress.

2006 Although overall levels of violence declined, clashes continued, killing, on average, four to six people per day. Grenade attacks by rebel forces on security forces often killed or injured civilians. Gunfire between rebels and security forces also caused civilian deaths. Attacks on tourists became more common. Rebels targeted suspected civilian informers, torturing or killing them as warnings to others. Due to the relative reduction in violence, the Indian army removed 5,000 troops from the region in February.

2005 Fighting continued between insurgents and Indian troops. Insurgents carried out numerous attacks and bombings on civilian and political targets, mainly inside the disputed territories but also other parts of India. It was believed that a militant group linked to Kashmir-based militants was responsible for bombings in New Delhi in October that killed 62 and injured hundreds. The United Jihad Council, a political body representing 14 militant groups, called a temporary ceasefire following an October earthquake, but fighting continued.

2004 Insurgents fighting Indian security forces and attacks on civilian and political targets claimed thousands of lives. There were no major clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops.

2003 While there were no hostile actions between Indian and Pakistani troops for most of the year, insurgents continued their campaign against Indian security forces and civilians. These attacks and the Indian forces’ counterinsurgency operations caused thousands of deaths. There were reports of the rebels recruiting children to fight.

2002 Islamic militants stepped up attacks against civilians before and during state assembly elections in September and October. Soldiers, civilians and rebels were killed in shelling between Indian and Pakistani troops, and in skirmishes between security forces and militant groups.

2001 Conflict resumed after a ceasefire ended with an Indian offensive in May and escalated after the September 11 attacks on the United States. Suicide bombings, bombings and raids, along with government offensives against separatist rebels, were reported. In December, the conflict reached India’s capital, with a suicide attack on the parliamentary complex in New Delhi.

2000 There were numerous attacks on civilians and a sharp increase in fighting between Pakistani-backed Islamic militants and Indian forces, particularly in the disputed Line of Control area. There was a relative decline in violence after the Indian government extended a November unilateral ceasefire and took steps early in 2001 to initiate peace talks with the militants. Overall, attacks on civilians and extrajudicial killings by security forces increased in 2000.

1999 Major fighting between Indian forces and Islamic militants backed by Pakistani troops in the disputed India-Pakistan Line of Control border area lasted eight weeks, until Pakistan agreed to a withdrawal of insurgents in July. In Kashmir, there were attacks on civilians and extrajudicial killings by security forces as well as an increase in rebel attacks on Indian security forces.

1998 Gun battles between separatists and Indian security forces, extrajudicial executions and militant attacks on villages, especially Hindu,continued at a lower level than in 1997. A buildup of Indian and Pakistani troops at the contested Kashmir border followed May nuclear weapon tests by both countries and led to heavier and more deadly artillery exchanges.

1997 Militant separatists and Indian government troops clashed throughout the year, and both rival groups carried out extra-judicial executions. In August, Indian and Pakistani troops resumed artillery exchanges along the disputed Kashmir border.

1996 Cross-border artillery exchanges between Pakistani and Indian forces, gun battles between Indian troops and separatist groups, bombings of civilian targets and election-related attacks extended the conflict.

1995 Bombings and gun battles were reported during the year. The capture and execution of foreign tourists brought attention to the al-Faran group in August. Human rights groups reported pervasive torture and summary executions by government security forces and insurgents.

Number of Dead and Displaced

Total: According to independent media reports, the total number of conflict-related deaths ranged from 47,000 to 100,000. The South Asia Terrorism Portal reported 43,914 terrorism-related deaths between 1988 and April 3, 2016 (South Asian Terrorism Portal).

2015 The South Asian Terrorism Portal recorded 174 Jammu and Kashmir conflict-related deaths, including 20 civilians, 41 security force personnel, and 113 terrorists. This figure was 19 fewer than in 2014 (South Asian Terrorism Portal).

Refugees and IDPs: The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre reported 221,090 internally displaced persons in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in April 2015 (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre). The UNHCR included data for India as a whole and did not distinguish among regions or conflicts within India. This source indicated that 10,359 refugees and 22,414 asylum seekers originated from India (UNHCR).

2014 The South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) reported a total of 193 insurgency-related deaths in the state of Jammu and Kashmir: 32 civilians, 51 security force personnel, and 110 insurgents.

Refugees and IDPs: According to the CIA World Factbook, approximately 250,000 Kashmiri Pandits from Jammu and Kashmir were internally displaced in India in 2014. According to reports, tens of thousands of villagers in Kashmir fled cross-border fire between India and Pakistan in October.

2013 According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, the number of fatalities increased from 117 in 2012 to 181 in 2013. One hundred were militants, 61 security forces and 20 civilians. Indian forces claimed responsibility for 168 militant dead in the last two years in the Jammu and Kashmir region.

Refugees: There are three ongoing conflicts in India, and the UNHCR does not dis-aggregate the number of refugees from each. In total, there were 11,784 refugees and 6,193 asylum seekers from India by mid-2013.

2012 International Crisis Group reported 86 deaths, while the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society reported 148: 37 civilians, 75 alleged militants and 36 armed forces personnel.

2011 South Asia Terrorism Portal recorded 183 fatalities this year, the lowest number since the conflict began. The dead included 34 civilians, 30 security personnel and 119 terrorists.

2010 South Asia Terrorism Portal recorded 375 fatalities: 36 civilians, 69 security forces personnel and 270 terrorists. In addition, 112 civilians were killed by Indian security forces during popular protests. According to International Crisis Group and media sources, the total death toll ranged between 120 and 170.

2009 South Asia Terrorism Portal reported 377 deaths: 55 civilians, 78 security forces personnel and 244 terrorists.

2008 South Asia Terrorism Portal notes that “civilian casualties, at 69 in 2008, fell below the 100 mark for the first time since 1990.” It reported that 90 security forces personnel and 382 militants were killed, for a total of 541. This represented a major decline in violence over 2007.

2007 Despite reports that violence fell to levels not seen for almost 20 years, South Asia Terrorism Portal reported 777 deaths from intermittent skirmishes. This figure includes 60 people killed during the Lahore-Delhi train bombing in February.

2006 Estimates indicate that more than 1,000 people were killed.

2005 More than 1,700 people were killed, approximately one-third civilians.

2004 More than 1,800 people were killed, including politicians, combatants and civilians. The drop in casualties from previous years was due in part to a reduction of fighting between the Indian and Pakistani militaries.

2003 According to independent media reports, between 2,000 and 2,500 people, including hundreds of civilians, were killed.

2002 An estimated 2,500-3,000 people, including many civilians, were killed.

2001 According to media reports, as many as 4,500 people died as a result of the conflict, most separatists and government soldiers.

2000 Conflict fatalities rose again; between 2,600 and 3,200 Indian and Pakistani troops, Muslim insurgents and civilians died.  The death toll was the highest in four years, according to one source.

1999 Conflict fatalities increased. Between 1,400 and 2,500 Indian and Pakistani troops and Muslim insurgents died (and as many as 80,000 people were displaced) in fighting on the Indian side of the Line of Control. Hundreds more civilians and combatants died in fighting.

1998 Approximately 2,200 people were killed, including at least 100 in summer artillery exchanges between Indian and Pakistani troops.

1997 The year saw more than 2,100 civilian, security forces and militant deaths, according to at least one source.

1996 One report put the death toll at more than 2,900.

1995 Likely more than 1,000 and, according to one source, as many as 2,800 were killed.

1994 At least 1,300 and, according to one source, as many as 2,900 were killed.

Political Developments

2015 On May 5 the Pakistani army’s top military commanders accused the Research and Analysis Wing of India’s intelligence agency of encouraging terrorism in Pakistan (The Express Tribune). In June Pakistan’s Defence Minister repeated the claim. On June 7 India’s Prime Minister Nerendra Modi fired back that Pakistan promoted terrorism (India Today). In an effort to ease tensions, both sides released detained fishermen in mid-June. On August 22 talks between the national security advisors of India and Pakistan were cancelled at the last moment.

At a September biannual meeting, the directors of India’s and Pakistan’s border security forces agreed on ways to ease tension. The same month, the commanders of the Indian and Pakistani armies discussed ways to reduce the conflict along Kashmir’s Line of Control, which separated Indian and Pakistani Kashmir. On October 1 Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj rejected a four-point peace plan proposed by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (International Crisis Group).

On December 6 Pakistani and Indian national security advisors discussed the Kashmir security situation during talks in Bangkok, Thailand. In the first visit to Pakistan by an Indian official in three years, India’s Foreign Minister attended a conference in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. The two countries issued a statement emphasizing their resolve to wipe out terrorism, pledging to resume bilateral talks halted after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks (The Hindu). On December 25 Prime Minister Modi visited his Pakistani counterpart’s Lahore residence in the first such visit in 12 years. The two countries agreed to hold a foreign secretaries’ meeting in mid-January (International Crisis Group).  

2014 Narendra Modi, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was elected prime minister of India in April-May elections. In the November-December state election in Jammu and Kashmir, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) won 28 seats and BJP came in second with 25 seats. Despite an increase in violence and calls by militant groups to boycott the election, voter turnout was reportedly 66 per cent—the highest in 25 years. At the same time, the state elections prompted a large protest in the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, with calls that the elections were fraudulent. On August 25, the Indian government terminated talks with Pakistan that had been reinitiated by Narendra Modi earlier in the year. India claimed that the Pakistani High Commissioner had interfered in Indian domestic affairs by consulting with leaders of Kashmiri separatist groups.

2013 Allegations of corruption and instability on both sides of the conflict hindered sustainable solutions. In February, the Indian government executed Afzal Guru, an Indian citizen accused of attacking parliament in 2001 amidst accusations that the Indian government was conducting “selective executions.” In early January 2014, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that the Military Court had closed a case involving securing forces accused of extrajudicial killings of five civilians in March 2000. HRW cited the case as another example of officials’ impunity in the face of serious human rights violations in the region. It called for the Indian government to reform the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, especially the immunity it granted to officials. The year saw 200 violations of the 2003 ceasefire agreement, with allegations that the Pakistani army was smuggling militants over the Line of Control into Indian-controlled territory. Both sides expressed concerns that fighting would intensify following U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014. After heavy gun fire in September the leaders of Pakistan and India met in New York to discuss re-instituting the 2003 ceasefire agreement.

2012 With almost 74,000 government posts vacant in Kashmir, administrative gaps and poor delivery of government programs fueled the conflict. In December, there was a 96 per cent turnout for local elections. Four posts in the State Legislative Council, which had been vacant for up to 32 years, were filled. The United Kingdom lifted a travel advisory for the region and tourism increased. Terrorist-sponsored strikes decreased from 132 in 2010 to 17 in 2012. Since 1990, tens of thousands of Kashmiri Hindus have left the Kashmir valley. According to a 2012 report, 58,697 families remained displaced from their homes.

2011 The relationship between India and Pakistan continued to experience incremental improvements. Bilateral meetings and peace talks were held. A number of measures were taken to open up trade and travel across the border in the Himalayan region in Kashmir. The Indian government paid reparations to the families of civilians killed during protests in the summer of 2010. A Human Rights Watch report urged the Indian government to launch an investigation into the discovery of 2,730 bodies in unmarked graves in Kashmir. Since the beginning of the conflict, 8,000 Kashmiris have disappeared. The authorities did not investigate most of these disappearances, claiming that the missing had likely gone to Pakistan to become militants.

2010 Peace talks, which ended abruptly in 2008 after India blamed Pakistani militants for the Mumbai terrorist attacks, resumed in February. Pakistan was ready to discuss a settlement for Kashmir, but India demanded action against Pakistani-based rebels before talks could continue. Though Pakistan denied arming the Islamist rebels operating in Indian-administered Kashmir, it acknowledged political, moral and diplomatic support. According to Pakistani officials, separatist rebels would be supported as long as India continued to support Afghan rebels operating along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. India named three interlocutors to talk with all parties involved in the dispute. There was evidence of talks between the national and state government in India and between the government and rebels in Pakistan, which could support a future settlement. Saudi Arabia was proposed as a potential mediator in talks between the two countries.

2009 Omar Abdullah was sworn in as Chief Minister of Kashmir in January and promised to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India. May saw pro-India parties win five out of six seats in national elections. Voter turnout, however, was low at about 26 per cent. In late October, India announced that it was ready to revive talks with Pakistan to ease tensions in Kashmir. Talks had been suspended after the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, blamed on Pakistani militants. Establishment of a peace deal was encouraged by the international community, especially the United States, which suggested that a settlement in Kashmir would allow Pakistan to concentrate its energies on fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda along the Afghan border.

2008 In midyear, Pakistan and India began fresh peace talks, continuing a peace process launched in 2004. In October, India welcomed a declaration from Pakistani President Zardari that Kashmir’s “freedom fighters” were terrorists. After the Kashmir state government reversed a decision to provide land to a Hindu trust responsible for a shrine. Indian security forces fired on unarmed protesters, killing and injuring many. On a positive note, state elections were held in November with a 63-per-cent turnout and far less violence than was expected.

2007 In September, Pakistan registered formal disapproval of India’s plans to lead tourist groups through the Siachen glacier, an area hotly contested by the two countries. In a sign of normalization, commercial trucks were allowed to pass through the India-Pakistan border at Wagah for the first time since partition. Peace talks continued during the year, but concerns about their progress were expressed at the end of the year in the light of political instability in Pakistan.

2006 Peace talks between India and Pakistan were disrupted in July by the Mumbai train bombings, which India claimed to be the responsibility of Pakistani terrorists. Talks resumed in November. Although no clear breakthroughs were made on the Kashmir dispute, two new bus routes and a new train route were established between major cities on each side of the region. The talks also produced a joint pact to institute an Anti-Terrorism Institutional Mechanism, although critics predicted it would have little success. Elections were held in April, with a 60-per-cent voter turnout, despite a boycott by separatist rebels. The Indian Prime Minister called for roundtable peace talks in May between Kashmiri politicians and separatist leaders. The invitation was declined by both factions of the APHC (All Parties Hurriyat Conference). In December, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf vetoed an Indian proposal that would have created an autonomous Kashmir. The proposal followed confusion surrounding statements made by Musharraf that implied Pakistan would cede control over its portion of the Kashmir region if India did the same, effectively rendering the area autonomous. Officials within Pakistan said that these statements were “twisted” and taken “out of context” and did not reflect the interests of Pakistan. Also in December, the United States signed the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, granting the sale of U.S. nuclear technology to India for its civilian nuclear program. No sales were allowed to Pakistan.

2005 A ceasefire along the Kashmiri Line of Control in November 2004 led to a meeting between the heads of both states in January, their first in more than two years. Peace talks between Pakistan and India continued, with agreements reached on relaxing restrictions on cross-border travel within divided Kashmir, withdrawing troops from the disputed Siachen glacier, and notifying each other in advance of ballistic missile tests. Talks between the Indian government and the moderate Kashmiri rebel faction, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, also continued, with no significant breakthroughs. Local elections were held for the first time in Indian Kashmir, but were boycotted by separatist militants.

2004 Transportation services between Indian- and Pakistani-held Kashmir resumed for the first time in years as bilateral talks between India and Pakistan reportedly made progress toward a formal agreement. Talks included discussion of Indian plans to build a dam that would affect Pakistani rivers in the region. Both countries were drafting “road maps” to peace. The government of India, in an unprecedented and significant change of policy, began talks with moderate separatist group All Parties Hurriyat Conference. The Indian government also signaled the possibility that Kashmiris could play a more significant role in ongoing talks with Pakistan. India reduced the number of soldiers in Kashmir by more than 1,000 and the Indian Prime Minister promised further reductions, contingent on reduced military activity by separatists.

2003 Relations between India and Pakistan improved as both states initiated confidence-building measures. The Indian government agreed to an unprecedented meeting with the largest political secessionist group, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. However, India maintained its position of non-negotiation with the militant rebel groups. Counter-terrorism efforts by the United States and Pakistan as part of the war on terror continued, targeting several factions fighting in Kashmir.

2002 October elections in Indian-administered Kashmir ushered into power a new coalition government headed by the People’s Democratic Party and the Congress Party. The elections were declared free and fair despite violence and boycotts by separatist groups. India and Pakistan approached the brink of war in June, stationing a total of one million troops along their disputed border. Tensions between the two nuclear powers were subsequently defused by international (particularly U.S.) efforts to secure Pakistan’s agreement to “permanently” end the infiltration of Islamic militants into Indian Kashmir. Both eventually pulled back from the border area, although India maintained an armed presence along the Line of Control.

2001 Early in the year, Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee announced talks with rebel groups in Indian-administered Kashmir, excluding Pakistan, despite a call for involvement by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. In July, an India-Pakistan summit failed to reach any agreement on the Kashmir situation. Then, hardline Islamic militant groups based in Pakistan announced a step-up in violence. In November, India’s ruling party called for tougher measures to deal with the militants in Kashmir.

2000 An unconditional three-month ceasefire offer by HuM insurgents in July was rejected by other armed groups in Jammu and Kashmir, and withdrawn two weeks later when India refused to involve Pakistan in Kashmir peace talks. In November, Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared a month-long unilateral ceasefire for Ramadan and extended it another month in December.

1999 In February, India and Pakistan signed the Lahore Declaration pledging India and Pakistan to  solve the Kashmir dispute. In May, fighting broke out. The remainder of the year saw little progress toward peace, beyond a U.S.-pressured withdrawal agreement that ended the immediate crisis over the Line of Control.

1998 Despite heightened political tensions between India and Pakistan, stalled bilateral peace talks resumed in October, but made little progress.

1997 After a three-year hiatus, talks between India and Pakistan  resumed in March, with prime ministerial discussions in May. The November collapse of the Indian government left the future of the talks uncertain.

1996 Indian parliamentary elections in May and state government elections in September served to focus violence. The Indian army coerced voters to the polls; separatists, who support a UN-sanctioned plebiscite, attacked political workers.

1995 Elections to end five years of direct rule by the federal government, scheduled for March, were postponed until 1996 because of the threat of escalating violence. There was growing demand for a plebiscite on the future of Kashmir.

Background

In August 1947, India and Pakistan became independent. Under the Indian Independence Act of 1947, Kashmir (largely populated by Muslims) was free to accede to India or Pakistan. Its accession to India became a matter of dispute between the two countries and fighting broke out later that year.

In January 1948, the United Nations Security Council established the UN Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to investigate and mediate the dispute. In January 1949, the first team of unarmed military observers, which eventually formed the nucleus of the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), arrived in the mission area to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan.

Rival territorial claims on Kashmir led to a second war between India and Pakistan, from April to September 1965.

At the end of 1971, hostilities broke out again between India and Pakistan over East Pakistan and its independence movement, which led ultimately to the creation of Bangladesh. When a ceasefire came into effect on December 17, 1971, a number of positions on both sides of the 1949 ceasefire line had changed.

Peace negotiations and the subsequent Simla Agreement in 1972 established the Line of Control separating Indian- and Pakistani-administered Kashmir. However, despite the painstaking process of demarcation—field commanders exchanged more than 20 maps over five months before the Line’s final course was agreed —troops have fought over differences in interpretation ever since.

Currently, Pakistan controls approximately one-third of the territory, which it calls Azad (free) Kashmir. China controls about a fifth of it, and India controls the remainder, which includes the twin state of Jammu and Kashmir. The population of Jammu is predominantly Hindu.

A 1989 uprising, led by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, developed into an insurgency involving as many as 140 militant groups seeking independence or union with Pakistan. In response, the Indian government deployed military and paramilitary troops; estimated numbers range from 150,000 to 500,000.

Elections were held in Kashmir in 1996 amid violence. Peace talks between the Indian and Pakistani governments began in 1997, but made little progress. In November 2000, India declared a unilateral ceasefire and attempted to initiate peace talks with some rebel groups, but in 2001 the ceasefire ended and violence escalated again. In June 2002, hostilities between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan brought the region close to war. However, U.S.-brokered talks served to defuse tensions by securing an agreement by Pakistan to stop militant incursions into Indian-administered Kashmir.

In recent years, factions fighting against Indian forces in Kashmir have become increasingly Islamist, placing greater emphasis on religious rather than nationalist objectives. Also, while levels of insurgency have declined since the beginning of peace talks in 2004, civil disobedience is on the rise, fueled by the disenchantment of a young population. Peace talks abruptly ended in 2008, when India accused Pakistani rebels of orchestrating the November Mumbai terrorist attacks.

In 2009, India withdrew as many as 35,000 soldiers from Kashmir in response to the most peaceful year in the valley since the separatist movement began. Troop withdrawal stalled in 2010, with India citing increased militancy; however, peace talks resumed that same year, offering tentative hope for a future settlement. In 2012 India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari held high-level talks for the first time in seven years. Subsequent ongoing violence again stalled talks. The process was reinitiated by India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, only to be called off several months later.

Arms Sources

Between 2008 and 2014 India switched from mostly domestic suppliers to an increasing percentage of foreign providers (Small Arms Survey, Small Arms of the Indian State, 2). In 2012 India commissioned a nuclear submarine from Russia. In 2013 India received weapon shipments from Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States, which identified India as a long-term strategic partner.

In 2014 the newly elected government of Narendra Modi initiated a ‘Make in India’ campaign, favouring its domestic arms industry (The Military Balance, Vol. 116, 227). By the end of 2015, 64.29 per cent of all outstanding Indian arms contracts were with domestic firms. A further 10.71 per cent of contracts involved a Russia-India partnership (The Military Balance, Vol. 116, 301-02). India still imported some weapons, with France, Russia, and the United States major suppliers (The Military Balance, Vol. 116, 301-02).

India’s defence budget increased from $36.1-billion in 2011 to $38.5-billion in 2012. From 2013 to 2014 it rose from $41.9-billion to $45.2-billion (figures include civil defence estimates such as military pensions). In 2015 India’s defence budget increased to $48-billion (The Military Balance, Vol. 116, 250).

Pakistan’s military budget was $6.22-billion in 2014 and $7.18-billion in 2015 (The Military Balance, Vol. 116, 279).

In 2012 SIPRI listed Pakistan as the third largest importer of conventional weapons, up from eleventh in 2006. Despite heightened tension between Pakistan and the United States, the United States continued to transfer weapons to Pakistan, including one frigate and two antisubmarine warfare aircraft in 2011. The final delivery of an air defence system occurred in 2013. Also in 2013, Pakistan’s navy inducted the last of four F-22P frigates from a $750-million deal with China signed in 2005. In June 2014 Russia announced the end of its embargo on arms sales to Pakistan. In November the Pakistani defence minister confirmed that Pakistan was buying Russian MI-35 combat helicopters.

Rebel groups received weapons from Pakistan; in the 1980s many came via the Afghan Pipeline, which sent arms through Pakistan to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Drug production and trade are closely linked to the arms trade in Kashmir, with most insurgent groups funding arms acquisitions through drug profits.

The capture and interrogation of an alleged Hizbul Mujahideen militant in 2014 revealed that some factions in Kashmir were receiving weapons and ammunition, such as pistols and revolvers, from Bihar-based illegal arms dealers.

Economic Factors

The economy and infrastructure of the Kashmir region were badly damaged in a 2005 earthquake. The economy is based on agriculture and textiles.

The Kashmir region lies between India and Afghanistan in the northwest and China in the northeast. The region has the potential to be a major transit point on an overland trade route. In May India’s foreign ministry objected to the proposed route of the China Pakistan Economic corridor, which would run through Gilgit-Baltistan. India considered this area part of Kashmir and therefore disputed territory (International Crisis Group).

Some trade between India and Pakistan goes through Kashmir. In 2008 India and Pakistan opened up two routes between the Indian and Pakistani parts of Kashmir to truck traffic. The same year, businessmen from the two parts of Kashmir formed the Jammu and Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

Exploration began for potential hydro-carbon wealth in the Indian-controlled region.

map: CIA Factbook

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