Since its creation in 1947, Kashmir has been a land divided and torn. The mountainous region east of Pakistan and north of the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab is home to a diverse group of people. Kashmiris include Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, and the land is claimed by Pakistan, India, and China. Over the years, tens of thousands of lives have been lost in wars, skirmishes, and bloody protests.
The most recent quarrel occurred January 27, 2018, when Indian soldiers killed two Kashmiri separatists and injured nine others in the Indian occupied Srinagar, Kashmir. The military had prepared for protests that day, lining the streets with riot-geared soldiers and issuing a curfew. Protesters are said to have started throwing rocks at the soldiers and damaging vehicles prior, leading the military to open fire. The soldiers claim the act to be in self-defense, yet are still charged with attempt to murder and murder by state police.
The fight for Kashmir began just after the removal of British rule and the partition of India and Pakistan: India as a Hindu nation and Pakistan as a Muslim nation. Kashmir, under the rule of Hari Singh, was given the option to join either country or remain independent. Singh, a Hindu, initially chose an independent state, but was pressured into aligning with India. This ultimately lead to the first of three wars fought over Kashmir.
Today, Kashmir is a majority Muslim state, with nearly 60% of the population following the Islamic faith. Its future still is being fought over, with inhabitants pushing to join Pakistan or India or even become independent. As the two countries are split on land ownership as well as religion, it often becomes a religious battle.
Ellis Gilham is a freshman at Metropolitan Community College studying International Relations and Journalism.