Indian Democracy in Kashmir: An Appraisal



The political history of the world has evolved from traditional political systems to modern political ideas which mostly transformed and enlightened the societies. Democracy though rooted in the Greek history has evolved and is presently considered as the best form of government in the human world. Democracy is based on the enlightened fundamentals which have politically, economically and socially emancipated the people from the dark ages and ushered in an age of political enlightenment. After world war second the process of decolonization started and most of the new states adopted constitutionally democratic governments based on popular consent. The adoption of this system made the people true sources of power and provide the right to determine not only their governing systems but inclusive nation-building as well. It is generally assumed that democracy has the potential to amicably resolve the issue but here in case of Kashmir democracy has miserably failed. The present paper will evaluate the conceptual and theoretical understanding of the democracy. The main focus of the paper will be on working of Indian democracy in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. The state has been one of the main contentious issues between India and Pakistan. The paper will try to evaluate the reasons behind the failure of Indian democracy in the state.

Key Words: – Democracy, Kashmir, Abrogation, Rigging, Autonomy, Separatism, Militants


Since the inception of human civilization, the world has experienced several credible political ideologies and governance mechanism. The human societies have politically evolved from different stages most importantly from traditional empire systems, colonial systems and finally, an era of decolonization process gave emergence to new political enlightenment stage. The earlier socio-political structures were closed and characterized by non-availability of civil liberties, political rights and freedom of expression and thought. The Renaissance and Enlightenment included a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of authority and legitimacy and came to advance ideas like liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government and separation of church and state. In France, the central doctrines of the Enlightenment philosophers were individual liberty and religious tolerance, in opposition to an absolute monarchy and the fixed dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. The Renaissance and Enlightenment were marked by an emphasis on the scientific method and reductionism along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy—an attitude captured by the phrase Sapere Aude, “Dare to know”.

The Age of Renaissance and Enlightenment was preceded by and closely associated with the scientific revolution. Earlier philosophers whose work influenced the Enlightenment included Francis Bacon, René Descartes, John Locke, and Baruch Spinoza. The major figures of the Enlightenment included Cesare Beccaria, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Adam Smith, and Immanuel Kant. Some European rulers, including Catherine II of RussiaJoseph II of Austria and Frederick II of Prussia, tried to apply Enlightenment thought on religious and political tolerance, which became known as enlightened absolutism. Benjamin Franklin visited Europe repeatedly and contributed actively to the scientific and political debates there and brought the newest ideas back to Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson closely followed European ideas and later incorporated some of the ideals of the Enlightenment into the Declaration of Independence (1776). One of his peers, James Madison, incorporated these ideals into the United States Constitution during its framing in 1787.


Conceptualization and Evolution of Democracy

Two conceptions of democracy have emerged: A narrower concept, and a broader one. The narrower concept is purely electoral as it focuses on (a) contestation and (b) participation. The first means the capacity of political parties freely to contest the incumbent government in elections and the second points to the adult universal franchise. The right to vote should not depend on caste, creed, race, ethnicity, income, gender or religion. The broader notion of democracy goes beyond elections. It also speaks of politics between elections. Special note is taken of three freedoms- freedom of speech, freedom of religious practice, and freedom of association-without which everyday politics can become authoritarian despite free elections.[1]

Democracy as an idea and as a political reality is fundamentally contested. Not only in the history of democracy marked by conflicting interpretation but also ancient and modern notion intermingle to produce an ambiguous and inconsistent account of the key term of democracy.[2] Greek democracy was characterized by accommodation of contradictory interests, judicial distribution, and utilization of resources and economic equality, restricted citizenship, freedom of assembly and expression etc. Democratization is one of the most important concepts and trends in modern political science. To be considered democratic, a country must choose its leaders through fair and competitive elections, ensure basic civil liberties, and respect the rule of law.[3]

In recent times, the common man in various parts of the world has lost patience and is revolting against the oppressive regime in his respective nation. This necessitates the understanding of the concept of democracy and why the wave of democratization has swept the world today. The opinion and choice of the people is paramount in a democracy. Thus it was rightly stated by Abraham Lincoln that ‘No man is good enough to govern another man without his consent’.[4] Jonathan Swift also said ‘All government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.’ According to Abraham Lincoln, ‘Democracy is seen as a form of government by the people, for the people, and of the people’.[5] The modern democracy believes in popular consent, universal adult franchise, equal status, and opportunities to all citizens, provisions of freedom, promote respect for human dignity, free and fair elections, and constitutional supremacy. According to Joseph Schumpeter (1942) “at its most basic level, the democratic method is that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people’s vote.” Bentham elaborates this concept as a “mode of decision-making about collectively binding rules and policies over which the people exercise control, and the most democratic arrangement to be that where all members of the collective enjoy effective equal rights to take part in such decision making directly – one, that is to say, which realizes to the greatest conceivable degree the principles of popular control and equality in its exercise…”[6]

The term democracy first appeared in the Greek political and philosophical thought. The Greek city-state of Athens established the first democracy in 508 BC. The ancient Greeks referred to themselves as citizens of their hometown – their city-state. Each city-state (polis) had its own goals, laws, and customs. Ancient Greeks were very loyal to their city-state. In Athens, every year 500 names were drawn from all the citizens of Athens who were to serve as lawmakers for a year. All the citizens of Athens were required to vote on any new law that this body of 500 citizens created. One man, one vote, the majority ruled. Women, children, and slaves were not considered citizens and thus could not vote. The ancient democracy had certain faults like only 10% of the total population of Athens had actually voting rights, women had no political rights and their civil rights were extremely restricted.[7] The division between rich and poor was another weakness in the ancient Greek democracy. Robert Dahl explains that a good city cannot be separated into two rivalry camps because this could lead to conflicts between the citizens, and also it could disturb the public good. Most of the industrial labour was done by slaves who were oppressed by the rich and wealthy citizen. In that way, the equality was breached. Wealthy Athenians use the slaves to maintain their lands and workshops and earn money which they don’t really make themselves and during the slaves are working they have enough time to participate actively in the religious and political life of the city. The slaves were deprived of any legal rights and were equal to a property which completely differs from the nowadays perception of democracy and human rights.[8]

Evolution of Modern Democracy


Renaissance Enlightenment and Spread of Democracy   


The age of renaissance and enlightenment had a profound impact on the spread of democracy. The period of renaissance started in European history from the 14th to the 17th century. Renaissance started as a cultural movement in Italy in the medieval period and later spread to the rest of Europe, marking the beginning of the Modern Age. The intellectual basis of the Renaissance was its own invented version of humanism, derived from the concept of Roman Humanitas and the rediscovery of classical Greek philosophy, such as that of Protagoras, who said that “Man is the measure of all things.”  This new thinking became manifest in art, architecture, politics, science, and literature. The revolution in the printing press allowed books, pamphlets and new ideas available easily and contributed towards the dissemination process which not only strengthened and revolutionized but opened up the societies. The Renaissance produced a new spirit of creativity and rationalism and the scholars began to study Greek and Latin classics. They also admired, copied and drew inspiration from the Greek art, architecture and sculpture. In fact, the Renaissance called upon the people to make a rational approach and attitude of the study of literature, science and art instead of a religious and dogmatic approach. In this report, Renaissance was like a bridge between the middle Ages and the Modern Age in Europe.

H A L Fisher observed that “during the 200 years (1340-1540 A.D.) the cities of Italy produced an out-put of art, scholarship and literature such as the world has not seen since the glory of Ancient Athens”.[9] Renaissance initially started in Italy and then spread to other countries of Europe. Machiavelli was the great political writer of Italy and his work ‘The Prince’ written in Italian served as guide for the rulers.[10] Dante was called “the Morning star of Renaissance” whose ‘Divine Comedy’ is an epic poem and reveals human love, love of the country and a desire for a free and united Italian nation. The works of Petrarch who has been called the Father of Humanism made Italy supreme in Renaissance literature. They dealt with the economic, social and political aspects of man’s life. Petrarch broke the monopoly of Latin and wrote his world famous love sonnets to “Laura” in Italian language. Thomas Moore wrote ‘Utopia’ in Latin and it contained the criticism of the society and government of the day.[11]

Democracy has been largely influenced by theories from the Enlightenment, the cultural and intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries. Begun in Europe and later spread in the American colonies, the Enlightenment’s purpose was to challenge traditional ideas based in faith and to advance society using scientific and philosophical knowledge. The major contributions of enlightenment which made the democracy powerful are commanding principles like natural rights, separation of powers, the will of the people, greatest good and separation of church and state. The enlightenment had truly amplified the democratic values far and wide and liberated the people from concocted dogmas. The enlightenment period is frequently linked to the French Revolution 1789. One view of the political changes that occurred during the Enlightenment is that the “consent of the governed” philosophy as delineated by Locke in Two Treatises of Government (1689) represented a paradigm shift from the old governance paradigm under feudalism known as the “divine right of kings”.

The stories of modern democracy began least three centuries ago. The emergence of modern democracy is linked with Europe. The two revolutions that contributed to the development of democracy are the Glorious revolution of the 17th century in England and the French Revolution of the 18th century in France. The Glorious revolution laid the foundation of the first democratic principles of the Rule of Law.[12] Earlier it was believed that the king was the ‘representative of the God’ and that the King’s wishes were the law. The people strongly protested the idea and dethroned King James II of England. They passed the Bill Of Rights which firmly stated that the country should be governed by the laws passed by the people and not by the whims of the king. The French Revolution took place between 1789 and 1851. In the revolution King Louis XVI was executed .It was decided that the country should be ruled by the laws passed by the people. It laid down the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’ which highlighted that liberty, equality, justice etc. were important in a democracy. In 1792, France became a Republic.

After the Glorious revolution a similar revolution happened in the mid 1700, where the thirteen British colonies in North America were unwilling to be ruled in a manner where they had no say in governing themselves. The slogan call of ‘No Taxation without Representation’ became the rousing call of the American Revolution. The common masses rebelled and the American Revolution led to the formation of the United States of America. The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776 which is another key juncture in the emergence of democracy in the modern society.

Throughout the nineteenth century struggles for democracy was focused towards giving political equality, freedom and justice to all. It brought about accountability and responsibility of the elected government towards its electorate. Many European countries did not allow every citizen to vote and limited it to those who had property and were adult men. In the USA, blacks were not allowed to vote. The fight for democracy was becoming a fight for universal adult suffrage. By the early twentieth century, early democracies were established in Europe, North America and Latin America. However, most of the country in Asia and Africa were colonized by the Europeans. These countries were fighting for their liberation. Many of the countries became democracies after the end of the Second World War in 1945. India, for example, became independent from the British rule in 1947 and adopted democracy as a form of government as the Indian leaders always wanted to establish democracy in India after Independence. Many of the African countries, however, after gaining independence from colonial rule, could not continue their democratic tradition for long.  Democracy was revived in several Latin American countries with the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the 1980’s. The Soviet Union comprised of 15 republics, most of which became independent and adopted democracy. In Asia also, several struggles for democracy were observed in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, etc. The people of these countries want to adopt democracy than any other alternative form of government in their respective countries. The expansion and growth of democracy resulted in the granting of voting rights to the citizens which was limited to certain people on the basis of wealth, education and gender earlier and thus had resulted in the demand of Universal Adult Franchise. In recent times several countries of the Middle East and Africa are fighting for democracy and against dictatorship. The series of protests and demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa is known as the “Arab Spring” and sometimes as the “Arab Spring and winter”, “Arab Awakening” or “Arab Uprisings” even though not all the participants in the protests are Arabs.

Waves of Democratization

Since the publication of influential study by Samuel Huntington on democratization, scholars have diverted much time to study in-depth the spread of democracy in the world particularly after decolonialization process. According to Huntington there have in fact been three distinct waves of democratization with a wave being defined as a transition from non-democratic to democratic regimes that occurs within a specified period of time in which those transitions significantly outnumber transitions in the opposite direction (S P Huntington, the third wave). The factors that affect democratization, has been a big debate in academia. There are several issues in the category – economics, culture, and history has been impacting on the process. Some of the powerful factors that impact the process most are economic factors, social factors, national culture and intervention by external factors. Huntington argues that the first wave of countries positively adopted democratic principles in the Nineteenth Century and the countries were USA, Switzerland, France and Britain.[13] The second wave, as he states, consisted of countries those are democratized after the defeat of Fascism and Nazism in 1945. Those countries are: (the then) West Germany, Italy, Japan and Austria.[14]

The third wave, Huntington argues as the most powerful among all waves, began in 1974 with the overthrow of the authoritarian government of Portugal.[15] Along with the death of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, the military government in Greece also fell in the same year 1974. All these three southern European countries successfully had become democracies by 1980. By 1990, the majority of Latin American countries had changed subsequently from non-democracies to democracies. Similarly, many African countries also adopted democracies by the end of the 1980s or early 1990s. Furthermore, in the late 1980s, several Eastern European countries had rejected communism and adopted democracy. The third wave, Huntington argues was the most powerful among all waves, began in 1974 with the overthrow of the authoritarian government of Portugal. Along with the death of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, the military government in Greece also fell in the same year 1974. All these three southern European countries successfully had become democracies by 1980. By 1990, the majority of Latin American countries had changed subsequently from non-democracies to democracies. Similarly, many African countries also adopted democracies by the end of the 1980s or early 1990s. Furthermore, in the late 1980s, several Eastern European countries had rejected communism and adopted democracy. The process of democratization in a given state is understood to be subdivided into three phases: the liberalization phase; transition phase; and the consolidation phase. The first phase happens when the previous authoritarian regime becomes liberal. The second phase completes when the first competitive elections are held. The last phase, which is also known as the most important among all, starts when democratic practices are become more firmly established and accepted by all relevant actors in the state. This final phase essentially certifies the durability of the newly established democratic systems in that country.

Models of Democracy

Democracy is treated as a single, unambiguous phenomenon. It is too often assumed that what passes for democracy in most western societies is the only legitimate form of democracy. There are number of rival theories or models of democracy, each offering its own version of popular rule. This highlights not merely the variety of democratic forms and mechanisms, but also more fundamentally the very different grounds on which democratic rule can be justified. There are four models of democracy classical democracy, protective democracy, developmental democracy, developmental democracy and peoples’ democracy.

Classical Democracy

The classical model of democracy is based on the polis or city state of Ancient Greece and particularly on the system of rule that developed in the largest and most powerful Greece city state, Athens. Although the model had considerable impact on later thinkers such as Rousseau and Marx, but this Athenian democracy has only a very limited application in the modern world. The most influential contemporary critic of this form of democracy was the Plato. He wrote a book and advanced a solution that government be placed in the hands of the class of philosopher kings, guardians, whose rule would amount to a kind of enlightenment dictatorship. However, on a practical level principal drawback of Athenian democracy was that it could operate only by excluding the mass of the population from political activity.[16]

Protective Democracy

When democratic ideas were revived in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, they appeared in a form that was different from the classical democracy of ancient Greece.

Rooted in liberalism, the protective democratic theory believes government exists to protect the rights of individual citizens. Governmental involvement in the lives of citizens should be focused on protecting material wealth and maintaining a free market. A protective democracy acknowledges there will be an imbalance in wealth and assumes the elite will be in power. Broad-based civic engagement is discouraged unless it is related to protecting civil liberties. Unchecked power as taken up in the seventeenth century by John Locke who argued that the right to vote was based on the existence of natural rights and in particular the right to property. In other words democracy came to mean a system of ‘government by consent’ operating through a representative assembly. The more radical notion of universal suffrage was advanced from the late eighteenth century onwards by utilitarian theorists such as Jermy Bentham and James Mill. In short protective democracy is but a limited and indirect form of democracy.

Developmental Democracy

Early democratic theories focused on the need to protect individual rights and interests, it soon developed an alternative which provided more attention to the development of the individual and the community. The prominent figure J J Rousseau provil.ded an alternative view to other democratic theories. At the centre of Rousseau model is the general will, the genuine interest of collective body which is equivalent to the common good. He further that “no citizen shall be rich enough to buy another and none so poor as to be forced to sell himself. Development of individual can take place only when he will become part of the decision making process. J S Mill’s views are also instructive as he promotes the ‘highest and harmonious’ development of individual capacities through the process of participation. Developmental democracy further assumes that people are inherently good as conceived by J S Mill. Developmental model accepts representation as a practical necessity to guarantee human development and political emancipation.

Indian Democracy after Partition

Democracy has achieved the status of a universal good, considered to be the ultimate expression of human political.[17] Yet the practice of democracy is not clearly defined. Recent years have witnessed violent plebiscites in East Timor, difficult post-war nation building in Kuwait, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, chaotic lurches between dictatorship and democracy in Venezuela and Peru, and charges of fraud and vote-counting mayhem even in an American presidential election. Though waves of democracy have spread far and wide but there are reverse waves as well the substantial dimension has failed to take roots.[18]

The people of India achieved freedom on August 15, 1947 (Independence Day) after an arduous and democratic struggle against the British colonial masters. The Constitution of India, an outcome of democratic deliberations for nearly three years, came into effect on January 26, 1950.[19] The values of sovereignty, socialism, secularism, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity are enshrined in the Constitution. These are espoused by a wide range of parties across the political spectrum. Furthermore, the principle of separation of powers was adopted to prevent centralization of power and abuse of authority. India has adopted a parliamentary form of government with universal adult franchise providing the right to vote to all its adult citizens. India also has adopted three tier federal system of governance. At the union level there is a union or central government, at the regional level there is states and union territories and at the local level government bodies namely Panchayats and municipalities in the rural and urban areas respectively.

Partition and Instrument of Accession with J&K

Ever since the emergence of the two independent states, Kashmir has figured as the most critical issue in the relations. The issue of Kashmir arises out of its accession to India. The modern state of J&K was created by Britishers in 1846 when they sold Kashmir to Gulab Sing the rule of Jammu. However the Dogra dynasty was autocratic and oppressive. In 1931 there was a revolt in Kashmir by Muslims, who were the oppressed class against communal discrimination. In October 1932 a political party All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference was formed under the premiership of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.[20] However in 1938 the name of Muslim Conference was changed into National Conference to make it more secular and inclusive so that other communities can also become part of it. But this decision created two antagonistic groups one was led by Sheikh Abdullah and the other Moulvi Mohd Yusuf. National conference of Abdullah supported secular India and the Muslim Conference of Molvi Yusuf supported the idea of Pakistan. After the partition the erstwhile state of J&K was given a choice to join either of the dominions. Under the politically motivated and mysterious circumstances Maharaja Hari Sing signed an instrument of accession with India which equally was endorsed by the popular leader Sheikh Abdullah. Pakistan categorically refuted and rejected the accession and alleged that Maharaja had lost the popular appeal and legitimacy and equally partition parameters were not respected.[21]

Sheikh Abdullah and Idea of India

Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, byname Lion of Kashmir, (born December 5, 1905, Soura, near Srinagar, Kashmir India- died September 8, 1982, Srinagar), a prominent figure who fought for the rights of the Kashmir region and won a autonomous status for Jammu and Kashmir state within independent India.[22] Abdullah founded a political party All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference which seven years later was renamed as J&K National Conference. The conversion from exclusive to inclusive was a very big shift which brought Sheikh Abdullah very close to Indian leadership and most importantly Jawaharlal Nehru. This bonhomie between Sheikh Abdullah and Nehru finally culminated in the state’s accession with the Union of India.[23]

Sheikh Abdullah support to idea of India was based on certain principles like secularism, constitutionalism, Democracy and idea of pluralism. Secularism was the fundamental idea which became the basis of the relations between the two. The situation unfolded after partition in a way that National Conference believed that Kashmiri autonomy would be better protected under secular India than Pakistan. Abdullah felt that the socio-economic interests of Kashmiris would be greatly threatened and diminished by the plutocracy of Pakistan primarily feudal in nature. Abdullah therefore was convinced that the future of Kashmir is more secure with secular India than with the Islamist Pakistan. India being a plural society adopted a parliamentary democracy which again became a justification for Abdullah to support accession with India.

A Special Session of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference was held at Srinagar on 10 and 11 of June, 1939 under the Presidentship of Khawaja Ghulam Muhammad Sadiq Chairman of the Reception Committee Maulana Masoodi introduced the following resolutions:[24]

The Special Session of the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference approves the Working Committee resolution No. 5 of 24th of June, 1938, for the change of the name of the Conference and for bringing about the necessary amendments and changes in its constitution, which was confirmed by the General Council in its session, held on April 27, 1939. The Conference therefore, decides that it shall henceforth be named as All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference and every citizen of Jammu and Kashmir, whether male or female shall irrespective of his religion and race, be entitled to become the member of the Conference provided he undertakes in writing to strive for setting up of a responsible government and securance of individual liberties as his political goal. This session also resolves that until the next annual session, the existing Working Committee and the General Council, the office bearers and the delegates to this Conference shall function in the same capacity as office bearers and members of the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference.

With the conversion of Muslim Conference into National Conference some new faces from Hindu young men joined the National Conference. The prominent among them were D P Dhar, Jankinath Zutshi, Sham Lai Saraf, Srikanth Raina, Sham Lai Wat and Prem Nath Dhar. Some Sikh youths from Baramullah also joined the National Conference.[25] The main objective behind the conversion was to give representation to all the communities of the state and thus the National conference was made a true secular organization. The conversion brought the National Conference very close to the Indian National Congress and paved the way towards the closer friendship between Sheikh Abdullah and Nehru.

The friendship played decisive role in the accession as Abdullah the popular leader of the people supported the secular idea of India. Abdullah never questioned the secular credentials of Nehru and had full faith in him. But after the accession certain developments took place like the India-Pakistan war 1948, UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir, emergence of the forces of opposition to the accession and the agitation of the Praja Parishad which created an environment of suspicion and thus lead to the differences between the New Delhi and Srinagar.

Abdullah’s Arrest 1953

Abdullah was dismissed from the office of Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on August 9, 1953, and put in prison for 11 years, bar an interval of four months in 1958. This arrest was the first severe blow particularly to the Unionists and mainstream politics and generally to the bond which was signed between state and Ned Delhi. The arrest of Sheikh Abdullah in August 1953 left a scar on the Kashmiri psyche that refuses to heal.[26] The arrest exposed the democratic secular principles of India and equally questioned the secular credentials of the Nehru as a true secular friend of Abdullah. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah’s Kashmiri nationalism clashed with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s Indian nationalism. Bose believes that India’s policy towards Kashmir to replace the Sheikh Abdullah government with Bakshi government was just the “strategy of hegemonic control” which could be sustained only by turning “Indian controlled Kashmir” into a draconian police state in which civil rights and political liberties were virtually non-existence India may be the largest democracy in the world but for the Kashmiris it becomes one of the autocratic states. During his brief respite from jail in 1968 Sheikh Abdullah expressed “Indian democracy stops short at Pathankot…there is no democracy beyond Banihal Pass” This statement is testimony to the level of grief in the heart of a mass leader like Sheikh Abdullah.[27]

The clash was inherent in their relationship even at the best of times.[28] The first challenge which changed Nehru’s approach towards Sheikh Abdullah was the agitation of the right wing forces in Jammu and the second was that the Home Minister Sardar Patel was not working in tandem with Nehru. It was a blow to the idea of Sheikh’s secular India. When the pledge to hold referendum was not kept by the governments of India and Pakistan, his advocacy of the right to self-determination led to his imprisonment.[29] The rationale provided for his dismissal was that his colleagues in the legislative Assembly had lost confidence in his leadership. In his book Untold Stories, General B.K Kaul writes, “Sheikh Abdullah was pleading Kashmir to accede with Pakistan and in Gulmarg was going to meet Pakistan delegates,” following which he was dismissed and arrested at midnight.[30]

Abdullah after a brief release was again arrested under “Kashmir Conspiracy case” on the charges of conspiracy to overthrow the Jammu and Kashmir Government by “means of criminal forces”.[31] Abdullah along with Mirza Afzal Beg and 22 others, who were accused of conspiracy against the state for allegedly espousing the cause of an independent Kashmir, for which trial began in 1959, was withdrawn in 1964 as a diplomatic decision.

Abdullah challenged the idea of secular India and also challenged the assimilationist and integrationist approach of Delhi. Abdullah was the staunch upholder of Kashmiri identity as well as the autonomy, therefore opposed assimilationist approach which was unconstitutional undemocratic and militaristic one.

Erosion of Autonomy

The Jammu and Kashmir state enjoys special status within the union of India. While granting special status to the state Gopalaswami Ayyangar argued that for a variety of reasons Kashmir unlike other princely states was not yet ripe for integration. India had been at war with Pakistan over the state and while there was a ceasefire the conditions were still “Unusual and Abnormal”. The state became part of India under special and mysterious circumstances.[32]

With the Accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India, Jurisdiction in matters of Defence, External Affairs and Communications was transferred to the Government of India and the Union Parliament was given power to make laws for the state for the purposes of those three matters only.[33]

Therefore Indian leadership introduced an article 370 which defined the constitutional relationship of Union of India with the state. The state was provided a special status under the instrument of accession and article 370.[34] The gradual abrogation strengthened the constitutional relationship but weakened the emotional relationship between the two entities.

The first blow to the autonomous status of the state was the 1952 agreement between Nehru and Abdullah. In the 1952 agreement it was agreed that:

  1. The head of the State of J&K would be a person recommended by the State Legislature and recognized by the President of India
  2. The Indian flag would have the same status in Kashmir as in any part of India, but the Kashmir State flag would be retained
  • The fundamental rights as laid down in the Indian constitution would be extended to Kashmir, but these would not come in the State’s programme of Land Reforms;
  1. Power to reprieve or commute death sentence would belong to President of India;
  2. The Indian President’s power to declare a State of Emergency in case of external danger or internal disturbances would be extended to Kashmir, but in regard to internal disturbances it would be used only at the request of the State Govt.
  3. Supreme Court could adjudicate in regard to dispute between the state and the Centre and other provincial govt.’s and on fundamental rights agreed to by the State.[35]

The agreement though were signed and legitimized by Sheikh Abdullah but the provisions clearly violated the autonomy promised in the article 370 and accession document.

However after a short period of time Sheikh Abdullah in his speeches at Jammu and Srinagar on 12th, 15th and 18th of 1953, had not only hinted that he was being forced to reassess the Delhi Agreement due to the growing incidents of communal activities in Jammu and India, but also insisted that the State had acceded on only three subjects, (referring to the Instrument of Accession) and had complete autonomy in all other matters, which was clearly a rejection of Delhi Agreement by Sheikh himself. The things that followed thereafter resulted in dismissal of Sheikh Abdullah’s Govt. and in his arrest and also in the installation of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad as Prime Minister of the State and with his collaboration thereafter, India did the rest easily.

Since this agreement according to Noorani article 370 has been reduced to an empty shell by the 47 Orders unconstitutionally made by the President of India for 50 years on the advice of the Government of India from 1954 to 1994. 260 out of the 395 Articles of India’s Constitution were extended to Jammu & Kashmir. So were 94 out of the 97 entries in the Union List – leaving a balance of 3 for the State to “enjoy”. 26 of the 47 entries in the Concurrent List were also extended to the State. 7 of the 12 Schedules were applied. In 1954, the proclamation was passed which legalized the right of the central government to legislate in the state on various issues. The state was financially and fiscally integrated into the Indian Union; the Indian Supreme Court was given the authority to be the undisputed arbiter in J & K; the fundamental rights that the Indian constitution guaranteed to its citizens were to apply to the populace of J & K as well, but with a stipulation: those civil liberties were discretionary and could be revoked in the interest of national security.[36]

There was no elected Government in the State from 1990 to 1996. The bogus “consent” was given by the Centre’s own nominee, the Governor. It was Governor Jagmohan who “consented” to the application to J&K of Art. 249. (It empowers the Union to legislate even on a matter in the State list if the Rajya Sabha so resolves). This was done on 30 July 1986. He also abolished the State’s residuary powers of legislation.[37]

The autonomy of the state was gradually eroded which even was echoed by Nehru himself in the parliament when he told the house, “It has been eroded, if I may use the word, we feel that this process of gradual erosion of Article 370 is going on. Some fresh steps are being taken and in the next month or two they will be completed, we should allow it to go on”.[38] The process of erosion which was started by Abdullah’s trusted friend Nehru is still in process. This erosion of autonomy though brought the two entities constitutionally closer but emotional closeness has been substantially damaged. The idea of federal and democratic India which Abdullah had cherished envisioned and supported was now inimical to the autonomous status of the state. This erosion alienated the political class and gave rise to the politics separatism in the state. The failure of Indian democracy to accommodate the special status of the state and consequently gave emergence to more problems and even failed to resolve the governance related issues as well. It is believed that had Indian democracy accommodated the autonomous status and respected the constitutional position of the state, the political situation in the state would have been different. The people of the valley have lost the faith and trust because of brazen intervention, erosion and unaccomodative approach of Indian democracy. It was believed by the Sheikh Abdullah and even social scientists were optimistic that after the accession of the state with the Indian Union the pending issues will be resolved amicably and peacefully. But the political, economic, cultural and emotional relationship has been extremely damaged, which even though lately was echoed by former Indian Finance and Foreign minister Yashwant Sinha, “I am looking at the alienation of the masses of people in Jammu and Kashmir. That is something which bothers me the most… We have lost the people emotionally… You just have to visit the valley to realize that they have lost faith in us”.[39]

Former Home and Finance Minister P Chidambaram echoed the same concern and told reporters in Rajkot that “the demand in the Kashmir Valley is to respect the letter and spirit of Article 370 that means they want greater autonomy. My interactions in Jammu and Kashmir led me to the conclusion that when they ask for azadi, mostly, I am not saying all… the overwhelming majority, they want autonomy”. He also had advocated in 2016 that India should restore the ‘grand bargain’ under which Kashmir had acceded by granting a large degree of autonomy to it. He had warned that otherwise the country will have to pay a ‘heavy price’.[40]

Reposition of Faith and 1975 Accord

The events that took place during and after the India Pakistan war of 14 days in 1971 had a pronounced psychological impact on Sheikh Abdullah.

After the 1971 India-Pakistan war in which Pakistan was bifurcated and new state Bangladesh came into existence had a deep impact on the Abdullah’s political standing and approach. After the war Shimla declaration was signed in which it was agreed that Kashmir issue will be bilaterally resolved. The victory in the war convinced Sheikh Abdullah that India has emerged as a regional power in the sub-continent. Sheikh Abdullah began to realize that Indira Gandhi, victorious and determined as she appeared after the war, and especially after the dismemberment of East Pakistan from West Pakistan, would not hesitate to curb and control him.[41]

Another factor which changed the attitude of Sheikh Abdullah and his Lieutenant Mirza Afzal Beg was Shimla Agreement of July 3rd, 1972 between India and Pakistan, where by the two countries agreed to sort out their problems peacefully through bilateral discussions. This agreement made the issues in Jammu and Kashmir an internal matter for India.[42] Thereafter, Sheikh Abdullah realized that his negative attitude was serving no useful purpose and in fact had led to his exclusion from the mainstream of the State’s political life. His advancing age may have been another factor influencing his attitude towards reconciling to the finality of the state’s accession with Indian Union.[43]

It was in this background that many observers presumed and hoped that confrontation will give place to cooperation and both will realize the need to start a meaningful dialogue to end this cycle of inflexibility. The India Pakistan deep animosity could not be resolved even by this ‘Bilateral’ clause, therefore mediation from outside responsible powers is imperative.

After protracted talks, extending up to almost three years, G. Parthasarthy and Mirza Afzal Beg, representatives of the Prime Minister and Sheikh Abdullah respectively signed a six point accord on November 13th, 1974 at New Delhi, which finally bridged the gulf that was created in 1953 between popular leadership of Jammu and Kashmir and the National leadership in Delhi regarding finality of the state’s accession to India. This accord paved the way for resumption of power by the Sheikh Abdullah on February 25th, 1975.[44]

In 1975, Sheikh Abdullah finally ended 22 years of defiance and rebelliousness. It was a total, abject surrender circumscribed and constrained by Kashmir Delhi, India-Pakistan relations and new regional political developments. The so-called Indira-Abdullah accord which restored the aged Sheikh as Chief Minister- his attempt to reinstate the ‘prime minister’ title he had held in 1953 was unsuccessful- asserted that ‘the State of Jammu and Kashmir which is a constituent unit of the Union of India shall, in its relation to the Union, continues to be governed by Article 370 of the Constitution of India’. However, it added that ‘provisions of the Constitution of India already applied to the State of Jammu and Kashmir…are unalterable’. The only concession made by New Delhi to Srinagar was minor: ‘With a view to assuring freedom to the State of Jammu and Kashmir to have its own legislation on welfare measures, cultural matters, social security, personal law and procedural laws, in a manner suited to the special conditions in the State [a coy reference to its Muslim-majority demography], it is agreed that the State Government can review [Central] laws extended after 1953 on any matter relatable to the Concurrent List, and may decide which of them, in its opinion, needs amendment or repeal. Thereafter, appropriate steps may be taken under Article 254 of the Constitution of India. The grant of President’s assent to any such legislation (of the J&K Assembly) would be sympathetically considered. A committee was set up to examine Concurrent List legislation extended to J&K after 1953. Its recommendations remain unknown.[45]

Indira Gandhi’s statement in Parliament of 24th February that relations between Kashmir & Indian Union would continue as before was broadcast by All India Radio repeatedly till the swearing Ceremony was scheduled to begin in Jammu. This caused widespread demonstrations & anger in Srinagar condemning Indira-Sheikh accord. Sheikh was livid with rage & did not turn up for swearing ceremony but later on had to because there was on option. In his opinion New Delhi had belittled his position by giving an impression that he had sold Kashmir for the chair of a Chief Minster.[46] The present National Conference leadership has equally voiced their concerns towards the Kashmir accord. Farooq Abdullah proclaimed that nothing was settled in 1975 accord. Mustafa Kamal the brother of Farooq Abdullah also questioned the legitimacy of the accord by stating that Sheikh Abdullah did not sign the accord.

The Indira-Sheikh accord, generally viewed as a sell-out of Kashmir cause by Abdullah did restore the power chair to him but it brought him at par with ordinary politicians like Sadiq & Mir Qasim. It is worth mentioning here that Abdullah never disputed the contents of the accord during his lifetime. He assumed power, enjoyed it and then passed it on to his son solely because of the accord.

The political life of Abdullah after his arrest in 1953 was an amalgam of confrontation, realization and finally ended with an inglorious end. Abdullah confronted and challenged an idea of secular India as well questioned the sincerity of political leaders which landed him in trouble.

Dismissal of Farooq Abdullah

After the death of Sheikh Abdullah the war of succession as well as the precarious political instability seriously damaged the Delhi Srinagar relations.  The fateful year of 1984 began with a warning by Indira Gandhi that the centre would not allow anti-national activities to continue in Kashmir. By 1983, a handful of powerful regional opposition parties had emerged in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Before these the other regional parties were drawing together in an unofficial anti-Indira/centre alliance.[47]

Farooq the new Chief Minister and son of senior Abdullah was charged with secretly supporting the Sikh separatists and of permitting them to train in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In October 1983, he hosted a three-day opposition conclave in Srinagar involving fifty-nine state leaders from seventeen different regional parties. All these activities undoubtedly angered Indra Gandhi who already was facing violent demands of autonomy in Punjab and Assam. Farooq’s encouragement of anti-centre opposition made things even worse for her. She felt insecure and gravely threatened.[48] Over the next few months she destabilized those states which were exhibiting such tendencies. The hook or crook methods used to try and break the government of Karnataka, Andhra and Kashmir were a blot on the very concept of a federation.

The centre gives many explanations of justifications for the dismissal. Though at this point there was no Pakistani hand visible in the valley at all, writes Tavleen Singh, but charges of Pakistani involvement were openly banded about by the congress leaders.[49] Further the kidnapping of Ravindra Mahtre[50] in 1984 provided another opportunity to implicate Abdullah. The Kashmir Liberation militants were believed to be associated with Amanullah Khan’s JKLF was held responsible for the kidnapping and subsequent murder of Mahtre.

Farooq Abdullah also had enemies within the state. Ghulam Mohammad Shah had never accepted his brother-in-law’s ascent to the top position. A long time political supporter of the Sheikh, he had regarded himself as the natural successor. As relations between the two deteriorated, in October 1984 Farooq Abdullah expelled G M Shah from the National Conference, Shah retaliated with the formation of the Awami National Conference party. Congress used this faction for their partisan interests. Congress went ahead with its plan to unseat Farooq in alliance with Gul Shah Faction of the National Conference. They approached the Governor Brij Kumar Nehru- the cousin of Indira Gandhi asking him to dismiss Farooq if they proved their majority before him. B. K. Nehru was not a close supporter of Farooq Abdullah but he was aware of the consequences following his dismissal. Nehru was pressurized by Indira Gandhi to dismiss him but he resisted to do so.[51] When Indira Gandhi suggested that Farooq be unseated, he demurred. He had consistently maintained that there was no law and order problem and nothing to dismiss Farooq Government. But she was determined.[52]

On December 31, 1983 following his refusal to cooperate and dismiss Farooq Abdullah Nehru was asked to resign and latter transferred to Gujarat. Jagmohan devoted to Congress cause was then brought in as governor with the specific intent of carrying out New Delhi’s orders. G M Shah along with 12 legislators weoore summoned to Raj Bawan and Farooq Abdullah’s government was dismissed on July 2, 1984. Jagmohan tried to counter the allegation but could not hide that the operation was planned and engineered in New Delhi.[53] Under the anti-defection law of the state, the defectors had automatically lost their right to vote in the assembly, and that is why Farooq was never allowed to test the Government’s strength on the floor of the house. Jagmohan installed G M Shah’s government supported by the Congress.  Farooq’s arbitrary dismissal was the beginning of a new and more volatile phase of Kashmir’s alienation shook their faith in the Indian state and rendered the electoral process meaningless-even dispensable and sent a signal that any honest decision that the people may take in regard to the governance of the state could easily be set aside by the powers in New Delhi as Balraj Puri Observed, “Sheikh Abdullah’s dismissal had signaled the message that even if the Kashmiri people did not wish to remain within India, they would not be allowed to secede whereas the dismissal of Farooq Abdullah conveyed the message that even if the people wished to remain within India they ” would not be free to choose their own government.[54] A Jammu congress leader gave away the game, admitting: “we would have allowed (Farooq) to continue in office if he had confined his politics to the state, Not only was he allowing himself to be exploited by the opposition, he was also permitting them to use the state’s resources to attack Indira Gandhi”.[55] Labeling the Congress opponents as anti-national had become a game, whereby Farooq’s single meeting with JKLF activists like Amanullah khan and Maqbool Bhat in Azad Kashmir in 1974 was cited as conclusive proof of links with the secessionists.

Again the myopic party centric approach and brazen unconstitutional intervention in the dismissal of democratically elected government was a violation of democratic principles and parliamentary norms. This undemocratic dismissal and misuse of powers by the centre government had a serious implications on the Delhi Srinagar relations and it was in this background Farooq Abdullah wrote a book in which he said that, “if you want to rule the state you have to be very close to Delhi”. This dismissal gave rise to separatist elements and alienated the mainstream politicians and eroded the faith of Kashmiri people in Indian democracy. Therefore the Indian democracy became a cause and not a remedy of conflict between the centre and state and thus laid a solid foundation to discontentment and anger among the common people. As long as democracy preformed fairly well, violent conflict remained low. As political intervention from the Centre increased and the strength of National Conference (NC) Party declined in the decade of the 1980s the incentive to resort to violence grew.

Rigged 1987 Elections and Rise of Militant Politics

There had been a persistent policy of denying Kashmir a right to democracy, one party rule had been imposed on the state through manipulations of elections, opposition parties have been prevented from growing and elementary civil liberties and human rights have been denied to the people. This refusal to integrate Kashmir within the framework of Indian Democracy has proved to be the single greatest block to the process of Kashmir’s emotional and political integration with the rest of India.

  1. Rise of Muslim United Front

In 1987 elections, the Kashmiri Muslim identity was mobilized by a broad coalition of Islamic groups called the Muslim United Front (MUF) mainly comprising the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Ummat-e-Islami led by Qazi Nisar and Moulvi Abbas Ansari’s Anjuman-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslameen. The MUF’s primary objective was to safeguard the interests of Kashmiri Muslims.[56] The other main objectives of the MUF centered on issues such as promotion and protection of Islamic solidarity, adherence to the fundamental principles of Islam, maintaining its cultural distinctiveness, precious heritage and traditions, promoting co-operation among Muslims etc.[57] Every nook and comer of the street was flooded with the exhibition of green flags of the MUF. The crescent moon and the star signs of the Islamic faith on the green flag of the MUF, made the people to dance with joy on the streets. One of the twelve National Conference defectors of 1984, Khiemlata Wakhlu, has written that there was a veritable MUF ‘wave’ in the Valley.[58]


When the election was held on 23 March 1987, there was nearly 75% participation, the highest ever recorded in the state, with nearly 80% overall voting in the valley.[59] The National Conference and Indian National Congress had formed a pre-poll alliance which was popularly known as Farooq-Rajiv accord.[60] It was the third historic accord relating to the state’s relations with the Indian union. The first two were signed in the year of 1952 and 1975. Interestingly enough, all the three accords were jointly signed by the two ruling families in Srinagar and Delhi. The accord of 1986 was largely criticized in the Kashmir. Most of the opposite groups called it as an unholy and opportunistic. The pro-religious and pro-Pak groups termed it as a “Sellout of the State” to Delhi. The prestige and image of Dr. Farooq Abdullah suffered body blows.[61]

It is generally believed that these elections were massively rigged. In constituencies were elections were manipulated, the polling agents of the opposition candidates were arrested and beaten up not only by the police but also by the National Conference candidates.[62] In these elections the National Conference won 38 seats and its Congress (I) coalition 28, the Bharatiya Janata Party 2, and Independents 4, MUF was given only 4 seats and secured 30 per cent of the total votes polled. The administration worked blatantly in favour of the NC-Congress alliance and the police refused to listen to any complaint.[63] The Governor’s report on the elections also states that it was openly rigged.[64]

The large scale rigging in 1987 elections had been regarded as the breaking point Quazi Nisar, a MUF leader said, “I believe in Indian constitution. How long can people like us keep getting votes by exploiting Islam?  We have to prove we can do something concrete, but this kind of thing simply makes people lose faith in the constitution”.[65] Similarly the Peoples Conference chairman Abdul Gani Lone queried in despair, if people are not allowed to vote, where will their venom go but into expression of anti-national sentiment.[66]

Immediately after winning the elections the coalition government used different coercive methods to suppress their political opponents especially those having some connections with the MUF. Almost all the candidates of the MUF who were “defeated”, were arrested after the results were announced along with their prominent supporters. Some of them were arrested right inside the counting hall and were beaten up publicly by the police and National Conference candidates jointly. Most of them were detained under the Public Safety Act and sent to different jails in Jammu region. Some of them were even subjected to torture.[67]

In fact, it was in prison during 1987, that the five young men who formed the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) nucleus in the Valley in 1989-90, met and on their release, took a collective decision to go to Pakistan controlled Kashmir in search of military training and weapons.[68] Mohd Yaseen Malik the current chief of JKLF was beaten abused and imprisoned in 1987, Aijaz Dar was killed, Ashfaq Majeed a brilliant student kept in solitary confinement and later released after nine months.[69] Pir Mohammad Yusuf Shah alias Syed Salah-ud-Din present supreme commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen was actually a MUF candidate was arrested from the counting Hall. Convinced that the slaves have no vote in the so called democratic setup of India, he picked up the arms in 1990.

The intelligence reports of various agencies also suggest that a majority of Kashmiri youth who crossed over the Pakistan controlled Kashmir following the rigged elections were actually supporters of the Muslim United Front (MUF).[70]

With these rigged elections history had completed yet another circle in Kashmir’s alienation from the Indian state. If the Accord had blocked secular and nationalist outlets of popular discontent, the elections blocked constitutional and democratic channels of protests as well.

  1. Eruption of Militancy

It is widely believed that insurgency started in Kashmir due to lack of democratic development in Kashmir. Indian government has introduced competitive electoral democracy but failed to develop competitive atmosphere, where antagonistic voices could get their due place. Most of the writings on Kashmir agree on this point that lack of democratic development led to the consolidation of secessionist identity formation in the Valley over a period of time. Rigging in elections and toppling of the successive state governments at the whims and wills of New Delhi, promoted the ‘leader-client’ culture in Kashmir instead of ‘democratic culture’. The people of Kashmir saw the dismissal of Abdullah’s government as a gross misuse of power by New Delhi. This interference in Kashmir’s affairs was “another nail in the coffin of the Kashmiri’s faith in Indian democracy and law”[71]. As Victoria Schofield has written, “the fact that the prime minister of India was willing and able to set Abdullah aside for what essentially were personal reasons demonstrated the lack of regard she and the government of Delhi had for Kashmir’s so-called special status”.[72]

The NC-Congress government that took power in March 1987 was not a genuinely popular government. It is for the first time in the post independence era that the Kashmiri separatist movement took recourse to violent upsurge since late 1980‘s. It is important to mention here that many of these defeated candidates and their poling agents became the pioneers of militant movement.[73] The stark reality about Kashmir is that armed militancy which erupted with full potential in 1989 had reared its heads in Kashmir at least since three decades. The radical (armed) political descent was first manifested in the shape of Jammu and Kashmir Students and Youth League formed in 1963-64 under the patronage of Mohammad Afzal Beg (a close associate of Sheikh Abdullah). Its activists were tried in what came to be called as “Nawakadal Conspiracy Case” in 1967.[74] In 1971 the authorities claimed to have unearthed another armed group Alfatah (Arabic means the victory) established in 1967-68.18 Earlier Kashmir National Liberation Front (KNLF) was formed by Mohammad Maqbool Bhat who was later arrested and hanged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail[75] as an immediate reaction to the killing of Indian diplomat Ravinder Mahatere in Birmingham by what they claimed themselves as Kashmir Liberation Army (KLA).  Shabir Shah (one among the stalwarts of armed struggle) was a member of Young man’s League formed in 1968 and Jammu Kashmir People’s League formed in 1974[76] while as Azam Inqilabi and Fazl-ul-Haq Qureshi were associated with Alfatah. The former founded the Operation Balakote later in 1990. The famous HAJY group members who later became the kingpins of militancy in 1988-89 were the active and prominent members of Islamic Students League founded in 1986.

The elections of 1987 proved water shed in the Kashmir’s political scenario. The rigging proved fateful for two reasons. First the candidates and their polling and counting agents, were not only cheated but also imprisoned and beaten up. Secondly having baked the MUF enthusiastically Kashmiri people lost faith not only in the electoral process but the political system as a whole.[77] The elections not only blocked the constitutional and democratic outlets but also persuaded the young protagonists that “bullet will deliver where ballot has failed”. A.G. Noorani has cogently summed up the political discrimination the Kashmiris felt at the hands of the central government: “the political coup ousting Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah in July 1984, the forced marriage of his National Conference with the Congress party in November 1986, and the rigging of the 1987 state election was enough to drive the Kashmiris to desperation”.[78]

After these fateful years, the people lost faith, questioned the credence and credibility of Indian democracy and started a search for new political alternative. The rigged elections strengthened the resolve and conviction of the common Kashmiri that Indian democracy is not a panacea to their problems. The failure of Indian democracy in 1987 elections was a failure of secular liberal plural and inclusive idea of India. Before this turning point there were very few people who were advocating the militant way of thinking but this turned the whole population against India and drastically revolutionized the whole Kashmir.


Since 1947 Kashmir the land estranged between two nuclear powers has seen many downs and less ups in its long tragic history. The erstwhile state after the partition of India ostensibly was in a deep undecided juncture of history. The British colonialism created two nation states, two ideas; two narratives and more specially divided the past undivided history and thus laid a solid foundation to perpetual conflict and cycle of violence.

Democracy was believed to be the panacea for all socio-political and economic ills but in case of Delhi-Srinagar, the experiment failed to yield the desired results. The India democracy suffers from innumerable issues but the most prominent is the failure of Indian democracy in Kashmir. Since the past seventy years it could not able to accommodate the identity of Kashmir. Democracy though played a significant role in the nation building process of India but in case of Kashmir problem, miserably failed to take concrete roots in Kashmir. It is not democracy which has failed in Kashmir but Indian pseudo democratic leadership has failed democracy in Kashmir. It is their myopic understanding and political immaturity which needs to be researched and analyzed.

Abdullah supported liberal and plural democracy of India but under the garb of same democracy he was arrested and the process of undemocratic constitutional assimilation was used to merge the identity of the state with the Union of India. Indian democracy could survive in Kashmir because of unconstitutional, undemocratic, coercion and military means. The arrest of Sheikh Abdullah, unconstitutional amendments, presidential orders, abrogation of autonomy, rigging of elections, use of military force to suppress the popular sentiments are some major failures of Indian democracy in Kashmir. Indian democracy’s institutional mechanisms have not worked properly to accommodate the dissent but have succeeded in containing and perpetuating alienation among the people. The people of Kashmir have lost faith not only in Democracy but in Idea of India.

The demise of democracy has been one of the forceful factors which resulted in the emergence of politics of separatism; deep alienation resulted in the emergence of militancy. While analyzing and reviewing the book of A S Dulat, Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, A G Noorani says that, ‘the book clearly reveals that India will continue to rig elections to the Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir for as long as the Kashmir dispute is not settled with Pakistan with the consent of the people of the State. Until then, it will arrange matters to ensure two things. First, that no one occupies the office of Chief Minister without its approval. The second is commonly overlooked in the entire discourse, namely, that no Legislative Assembly that is likely to cross the well-known red lines set by New Delhi, ever since 1951, gets elected’. A S Dulat the former RAW chief reveals authoritatively the modus operandi by which centre keeps a tight grip on the direction of Kashmir politics. In an interview to Shabistan Urdu Digest in January 1968, Sheikh Abdullah said, “Only that person who enjoys the confidence of the Government of India can be Chief Minister of Kashmir”. B. K. Nehru Governor of Jammu and Kashmir from 1981 to 1984 wrote in his memoirs, “From 1953 to 1975 [when Sheikh Abdullah returned to power], Chief Ministers of that State had been nominees of Delhi. Their appointment to that post was legitimized by the holding of farcical and totally rigged elections in which the Congress Party led by Delhi’s nominee was elected by huge majorities”. Mir Qasim made the same point in his memoirs “Whenever New Delhi feels a leader in Kashmir is getting too big for his shoes, it employs Machiavellian tactics to cut him to size.”

It is therefore evident that India democracy in Kashmir is guided democracy, guided and supervised from the above and people from the below are irrelevant in the functioning of this undemocracy of democracy. The failure of Indian democracy has not only perpetuated the conflict but has equally been responsible for bad governance, stagnation in development, political corruption and bureaucratic highhandedness therefore; the result of these issues is the institutional decay.


Suggested Readings

  • A G Noorani, ‘Deception on Article 370’, Greater Kashmir, Srinagar, 2016
  • A G Noorani, ‘Nehru’s Legacy in Foreign Affairs’, Frontline, August 11, 2006
  • A G Noorani, ‘The Legacy of 1953’, Frontline, India’s National Magazine, Volume 25 – Issue 17, Aug. 16-29, 2008
  • A G Noorani, ‘The Sheikh vs. the Pandit’, The Greater Kashmir, May 27, 2016
  • A S Anand, “Kashmir’s Accession to India”, The Indian Law Institute, 2001
  • Abdul Majid Zargar, ‘Indra-Sheikh Accord of 1975”, org, March 1, 2012
  • Ajit Bhattacharjea, Kashmir the wounded valley, UBS publishers Distributors Ltd. New Delhi
  • Alison Brown, Italy in the age of the Renaissance: 1300-1550, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Amartiya Sen, “Democracy as a Universal Value”, Journal of Democracy,3 (1999) 3-17
  • Amitabh Mattoo, ‘Understanding Article 370’, The Hindu, December, 2013
  • Andrew Heywood, Politics, Macmillan International Higher Education, 2013
  • Antony H. Birch, The Concepts and Theories of Modern Democracy, London: Routledge, 1993
  • Arvind Lavakare, The Truth about Article 370 36 (2005)
  • Ashutosh Varshney, “Denying Nehru his due”, The Indian Express, February 14, 2018
  • K Nehru papers, f. no.17, Nehru Memorial Museum, New Delhi
  • Balraj Puri, Jammu and Kashmir, Triumph and tragedy of Indian Federalism
  • Balraj Puri, Kashmir towards Insurgency, Orient Black Swan 1993,
  • Bradley C. S. Watson, Civil Rights and the Paradox of Liberal Democracy, Lexington Books, 1999
  • Christopher Snedden, Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris, 2015
  • David Beetham,“Liberal Democracy and the Limits of Democratization”, Journal of Political Studies
  • David Held, Models of Democracy, Stanford University Press, 2006
  • Daya Sagar, Jammu and Kashmir: A Victim, Prabhat Prakashan, 2015
  • Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, ‘Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’ Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Faizan Bhat, ‘Kashmir: Indian Democracy in Paralysis’, Café Dissensus Every day, September 30, 2016
  • George Lakoff, Moral Politics, University of Chicago Press, 05-Sep-2016
  • Guari Bazaz Malik, ‘Genesis of Kashmir Trouble’, The Statesman, Delhi, March 29, 1990.
  • H A L Fisher, A history of Europe, Houghton Mifflin, 1936
  • Indian Express, “India has lost Kashmir valley emotionally”, October 1, 2017
  • Jagmohan, My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir, Allied Publishers Pvt Ltd; New edition, 1995
  • Khemlala Wakhlu, O.N. Wakhlu, Kashmir Behind the White Curtain, New Delhi. Konarak Publishers, 1992
  • Larry Diamond, “Is the third wave over?”, Journal of Democracy, National Endowment for Democracy and the Johns Hopkins University, 1996
  • M J Akbar, Kashmir behind the Vale, 1991
  • N Padmanabhan, Modern World in Transition, School of Distance Education, Calicut University P.O. Malappuram, Kerala, 2011
  • Najar, G.R., Kashmir Accord 1975-A Political Analysis, Gulshan publications, Srinagar, 2007
  • Navnita Chada Behara, State Identity and violence, Manohar Publications New Delhi, 2000
  • Nyla Ali Khan, ‘Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah: A Fraught Relationship’, Frontline, December 15, 2015
  • Robert A. Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics, Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1989
  • Robert C Oberst, Government and Politics in South Asia, Routledge, 2018
  • Verma, Jammu and Kashmir at the Political Crossroads, New Delhi, Vikas Publishing House, 1994,
  • Samuel P Huntington, “Democracy’s Third Wave”, Journal Of Democracy, Spring 1971
  • Singh Tavleen, ‘Kashmir A Tragedy of Errors’ Penguin India, 2009
  • Sumantra Bose, ‘Kashmir’s Autonomy: The Valley of Flaws’, OPEN, September 15, 2017
  • Taffazull Hussain, Sheikh Abdullah-A Biography: The Crucial Period 1905-1939, Syed Taffazull Hussain
  • Times of India, “P Chidambaram seeks Greater Autonomy for J&K”, October 28, 2017
  • Victoria Schofield, Kashmir in the Crossfire, B. Tauris; First Edition, 1996
  • Zafar Mehraj, “Rise of Military in Kashmir-A perspective”. The Kashmir Times. Sunday, September 24, 1989.



[1]               Ashutosh Varshney, “Denying Nehru his due”, The Indian Express, February 14, 2018

[2]               Antony H. Birch, The Concepts and Theories of Modern Democracy, London: Routledge, 1993, p. 45.

[3]               Robert A. Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics, Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1989, pp.18- 19

[4]               Bradley C. S. Watson, Civil Rights and the Paradox of Liberal Democracy, Lexington Books, 1999, p. 3

[5]               Ibid. p. 3

[6]               David Beetham, “Liberal Democracy and the Limits of Democratization”, Journal of Political Studies,      Published by Political Science Association and Wiley, August 1992

[7]               David Held, Models of Democracy, Stanford University Press, 2006, p. 17-19

[8]               George Lakoff, Moral Politics, University of Chicago Press, 05-Sep-2016, p. 50

[9]               H A L Fisher, A history of Europe, Houghton Mifflin, 1936

[10]             Alison Brown, Italy in the age of the Renaissance: 1300-1550, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 246-    265

[11]             N Padmanabhan, Modern World in Transition, School of Distance Education, Calicut University P.O.         Malappuram, Kerala, 2011, p. 7

[12]          A Text Book of Social Sciences, Pitambar Publishing House, p. 74

[13]             Samuel P Huntington, “Democracy’s Third Wave”, Journal Of Democracy, Spring 1971

[14]             Havard Strand, Havard Hegre, Scott Gates and Marianne Dahl, “Democratic Waves? Global Patterns of                 Democratization 1816–2008”, Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, Centre for the Study of                 Civil War, PRIO, Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and   Technology, January 16 2012

[15]             Larry Diamond, “Is the third wave over?”, Journal of Democracy, National Endowment for Democracy      and the Johns Hopkins University, 1996

[16]             Andrew Heywood, Politics, Macmillan International Higher Education, 2013, p.93

[17]             Amartiya Sen, “Democracy as a Universal Value”, Journal of Democracy, 10.3 (1999) 3-17

[18]             Ibid.

[19]             Robert C Oberst, Government and Politics in South Asia, Routledge, 2018, p.

[20]             A S Anand, “Kashmir’s Accession to India”, The Indian Law Institute, 2001

[21]             Ibid

[22]             Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, ‘Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’ Encyclopedia Britannica

[23]             Taffazull Hussain, Sheikh Abdullah-A Biography: The Crucial Period 1905-1939, Syed Taffazull Hussain, p. 296

[24]             Resolution presented by Maulana Masoodi before the special session of Muslim Conference on June 10, 1939.

[25]             M Abdullah, Atashi-i-Chinar, Ali Mohammad and Sons, Srinagar, p. 241

[26]             A G Noorani, ‘The Legacy of 1953’, Frontline, India’s  National Magazine, Volume 25 – Issue 17, Aug. 16-29, 2008

[27]             Sumantra Bose, Kashmir: Roots of Conflict, Paths to Peace, Harvard University Press, 2005, pp. 175-76

[28]             A G Noorani, ‘The Sheikh vs. the Pandit’, The Greater Kashmir, May 27, 2016

[29]             Nyla Ali Khan, ‘Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah: A Fraught Relationship’, Frontline, December 15, 2015

[30]             Faizan Bhat, ‘Kashmir: Indian Democracy in Paralysis’, Café Dissensus Every day, September 30, 2016

[31]             Statement of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, in the court of Shri N.K. Hak, special magistrate Jammu, parts I             p .2, vide Indian council of world Affairs, Library, New Delhi

[32]             Amitabh Mattoo, ‘Understanding Article 370’, The Hindu, December, 2013

[33]             See sch. 7, list I, the Constitution of India

[34]             Arvind Lavakare, The Truth about Article 370 36 (2005)

[35]             Daya Sagar, Jammu and Kashmir: A Victim, Prabhat Prakashan, pp. 311-312,  2015

[36]             A G Noorani, ‘Deception on Article 370’, Greater Kashmir, Srinagar, 2016

[37]             Ibid

[38]             A G Noorani, ‘Nehru’s Legacy in Foreign Affairs’, Frontline, August 11, 2006

[39]             Indian Express, “India has lost Kashmir valley emotionally”, October 1, 2017

[40]             Times of India, “P Chidambaram seeks Greater Autonomy for J&K”, October 28, 2017

[41]             Najar, G.R., Kashmir Accord 1975-A Political Analysis, Gulshan publications, Srinagar, 2007, p.2.

[42]             Kak, B.L., op.cit., p.103.

[43]             Khem Lata Wakhlu, op.cit. p.20.

[44]             Balraj Puri, Jammu and Kashmir, Triumph and tragedy of Indian Federalism, Op.cit. p.176.

[45]             Sumantra Bose, ‘Kashmir’s Autonomy: The Valley of Flaws’, OPEN, September 15, 2017

[46]             Abdul Majid Zargar, ‘Indra-Sheikh Accord of 1975”,, March 1, 2012

[47]             Ajit Bhattacharjea, Kashmir the wounded valley, UBS publishers Distributors Ltd. New Delhi, pp. 245-246.

[48]             Ibid. pp.245-46

[49]             Singh Tavleen, ‘Kashmir A Tragedy of Errors’ Penguin India, 2009, p. 53

[50]             Ravindra Hareshwar Mahtre was a 48 years old Indian diplomat in UK who was kidnapped and later          murdered in Birmingham in 1984 by British Kashmiri militants associated with the Jammu Kashmir    Liberation Front

[51]             Kashmir Times, July 2, 1990

[52]             B. K Nehru papers, f. no.17, Nehru Memorial Museum, New Delhi

[53]             Jagmohan, My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir, Allied Publishers Pvt Ltd; New edition, 1995, pp. 255-317

[54]             Balraj Puri, Kashmir towards Insurgency, Orient Black Swan 1993, p. 34

[55]             Ibid. p. 153

[56]             Navnita Chada Behara, State Identity and violence, Manohar Publications New Delhi, 2000, pp.157-8

[57]             The Constitution of MUF, pp. 2-7

[58]             Khemlala Wakhlu, O.N. Wakhlu, Kashmir Behind the White Curtain, New Delhi. Konarak Publishers, 1992, p. 321.

[59]             P. S. Verma, Jammu and Kashmir at the Political Crossroads, New Delhi, Vikas Publishing House, 1994,     p.137.

[60]             There was an informal understanding between National Conference and Congress (I), that the power would be shared in the ratio of 60:40. The alliances would have yielded better results had the Congress (I) fulfilled all those lofty promises made during the honeymoon period,’” In practice, the alliance only resulted in enlarging the circle of predatory and insensitive oligarchy

[61]             P S Verma, Opcit.  p.6

[62]             Balraj Puri, Opcit. p. 53.

[63]             India Today, April 15, 1987, p-40-42

[64]             Guari Bazaz Malik, ‘Genesis of Kashmir Trouble’, The Statesman, Delhi, March 29, 1990.

[65]             India Today, 15 April 1987. p. 40-42

[66]             Ibid.

[67]             Zafar Mehraj, “Rise of Military in Kashmir-A perspective”. The Kashmir Times. Sunday, September 24, 1989.

[68]             The five young men include Ashfaq Majeed Wani, Mohammad Yasin Malik. Abdul Hamid Sheikh, Ajaz Ahmad Dar and Javid Ahmad Mir. All of them were active supporters of MUF and close associates of Pir Mohammad Yousuf Shah (the present Supreme Commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen) who contested the election of 1987. from Amira Kadal constituency but was “defeated”. Of the five Ajaz Ahmad Dar. Ashfaq Majeed Wani and Abdul Hamid Sheikh died in different encounters with the Indian Security Forces.

[69]             Times of India, May 6, 1990.

[70]             Zaidi. n. 51

[71]             Mir Qasim, My Life and Times, South Asia Books, 1992, p. 162

[72]             Victoria Schofield, Kashmir in the Crossfire,  I. B. Tauris, 1996, p. xii

[73]             Like the members of HAJY group Hamid Sheikh, Ashfaq Majid, Javid Mir and Yasin Malik campaigned actively for MUF and Mohammad Yousf Shah Alias Syed Salahudin the commander of HM was a MUF candidate from Amirakadal constituency in Srinagar.

[74]             A G Noorani, Kashmir Dispute, 1947-2012, Tulka Books, (2013), Vol-II, p.189.

[75]             He was actually convicted and sentenced to death in 1966 for the charges of murder of an intelligence officer


[77]             Noorani, Vol-II, op.cit, p.191. Though there were people like Shabir Shah who were already against elections as they were of the firm belief that India will never allow people to acquire independence through democratic ways but now it has become naked reality after 1987 elections

[78]             A G Noorani, 1992 b00k, p. 72

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