Historically the present geopolitical formation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir happened in the middle of the 19th century. Sikh ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh annexed the territories of Jammu region in 1819, and then sold it to his Dogra commander Gulab Singh in 1820, and crowned him the King. In 1834 Gulab Singh annexed the kingdom of Ladakh, and in 1846 the Kashmir region was ceded to the Dogra king under a treaty with the British government, who then was ruling most of the sub continent.
Dogra dynasty ruled the state for almost a hundred years.
Under the Dogra rule, the state comprised a huge territory of over two million sq. km., touching boundaries of Afghanistan in the north, China in the north and east, present-day Pakistan in the west and India in the South.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir is extensively diverse: linguistically, culturally, religiously and geographically.
From these historical and basic facts, it is obvious that the state of Jammu and Kashmir, including the regions controlled by Pakistan, was never ever a single entity, linguistically and culturally.
It is from this perspective that the entire region should be divided politically on the basis of its separate identities to restore their pre-Dogra rule status. Keeping them together is political experimentation to seek a lasting alliance has so far failed.
The separation of the Ladakh region from the state as a union territory by the government of India is the right move for its independence from the rest of the state.
Same can be applied to the Jammu region. But that is a bit complicated because Jammu’s identity lies with Pakistan-controlled Azad Kashmir area rather than Kashmir. If that merger ever happens then Jammu can be a separate state as well. And Kashmir will be separated altogether to have its “Azadi” finally.
by Promod Puri