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Kashmir is a region located in northern India and southwestern Pakistan. The name “Kashmir” comes from the Sanskrit words kāśyapa-pura, meaning “city of Kāśyapa”. It is the largest city in the Kashmir Valley and serves as its administrative headquarters.
The valley is one of the most militarized zones in the world and has been the site of numerous armed conflicts between India and Pakistan. The primary religion practiced in Kashmir is Islam, although a significant minority of Hindus also live there. Muslims have lived in Kashmir since the 14th century, when Sultan Sikandar Butshikan converted to Islam and introduced it to the region.
Hinduism was brought to Kashmir by Hindu traders from Central Asia. Buddhism was once prevalent in Kashmir, but today there are very few Buddhist residents remaining. The majority of Kashmiris identify as ethnic Kashmiri Pandits, although there are also sizable populations of Gujjars, Paharis, Dogras, and Ladakhis living in the region.
All of these groups have their own distinct cultures and traditions. Since 1947, when British rule over India ended and it was partitioned into India and Pakistan, Kashmir has been a disputed territory claimed by both countries. This dispute has led to multiple wars being fought over control of Kashmir (1947-48 war, 1965 war), as well as an ongoing insurgency that began in 1989.
In recent years tensions have flared up again following attacks by Pakistani militants on Indian soldiers stationed in Kashmir (2016 Uri attack) and the Indian government’s decision to revoke special status for Jammu & Kashmir (2019).