The word Kashmiri is used for those living in the Kashmir Valley. There are also ethnic Kashmiris. Bakrwal and Gujjar also in some numbers. There are a small number of Sikhs who migrated from Punjab to Kashmir and were heavily involved in bureaucracy and government affairs during the Dogra rule.

The history of ethnic Kashmiris is very old. They include people from Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia, India and Tibet at different times. Today, most are Muslims. Before the fifteenth century, it had a Buddhist and Hindu majority. There is another minority of Hindus in Kashmir called Pandits. In 1947, their number was six percent.

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The word "Kashmiri" also creates confusion. It also has many meanings. Many people of Azad Kashmir are also called Kashmiris. The people living here have historical and cultural ties mostly with Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The political integration of the region from the Kashmir Valley also took place in the Dogra state.

Many Pakistanis living in the UK also call themselves Kashmiri. Most of them have been from Mirpur, though the area has been closer to Jammu. (Identity was not well integrated in the Dogra rule).


There is another word used in political terms about Kashmir which is "occupied". India claims that under the principles of Partition of India, all Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India because, according to them, the accession was at the discretion of the ruler of the state. It was annexed by Maharaja Hari Singh to India in 1947. India officially calls Pakistan-occupied territory Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Thus India calls Aksai Chen (Desert of White Stones) Chinese Occupied Kashmir. The area is occupied by China and claimed by India. India is very sensitive about using this term in maps. But the term itself is a source of great confusion in India itself. Because it has many meanings of its own. Sometimes Gilgit-Baltistan is included, sometimes not.

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Azad Kashmir was formally established on October 24, 1947. This meant the area liberated from the control of the Maharaja. Two days after its establishment, Maharaja Hari Singh formally annexed India. The term Azad Kashmir is particularly unpopular in India. (Nationalist Indians resent the use of the term Azad Kashmir).

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There is also sensitivity about maps in Pakistan. The area administered by India is called Indian Occupied Kashmir. It includes Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir. Pakistan claims that India's occupation is aggressive. India had promised a Junagadh-style referendum here but it never took place. India's rule over the region is against the will of the people here. This has been true as far as Kashmir is concerned, while the majority of Ladakh and Jammu are Prondia. And there is another confusion.

When Pakistanis talk of Indian occupation of Kashmir, they are usually not interested in Ladakh or Jammu, even though they were part of the same state.

Apart from Pakistan and India, the term used in the rest of the world is Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and Indian-controlled Kashmir. In 1949, the UN commission on the issue called it West Kashmir and East Kashmir. The term is also used in many places.

(to be continued)