The Kashmir Region

Photo: Chandanwari

The state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) is often erroneously equated with the Kashmir Valley. Situated approximately at the centre of the undivided state of Jammu & Kashmir, the Kashmir Valley is the part of the state that has most engaged the attention of travellers, writers and invaders. The Kashmir region or valley, however, is just one small part of the state. The valley is an ancient lake basin 140 km long and 32 km. wide. The average elevation of the Valley is 5,300 feet above sea level. Because of its altitude and the tall mountains rising up to 16,000 feet that surround the Valley, the weather here is pleasant for most of the year. Its rich alluvial soil, well drained by rivers and streams yield rice, saffron, vegetables and a variety of fruit. Thousands of tourists from all over the world flock to Kashmir in summer to trek in the high meadows, live in the house boats of Dal Lake and hunt for souvenirs in the quaint shops of Srinagar. This region, unfortunately, is also home to the militancy and violence that has dominated the state for many years.

Kupwara
Topography:
District Kupwara is situated at an altitude of 5,300 feet above sea level and is the northern most district of the Kashmir Valley. It shares a long border with POK in its north and western side and is totally enclosed by the Baramulla district on the other side. This district is endowed with rich dense forests. The river "Kishan Ganga" is the only important river originating from the Himalayas which flows through the outer areas of the district from East to West. Some difficult and well known passes are located in the district viz. Gabhra pass, Sadham Pass and Nastuchan Pass. The geographical area of the district is 2,379 sq. km. with three tehsils namely Handwara, Karnah and Kupwara. There are five assembly constituencies namely Karnah, Kupwara, Lolab, Handwara and Langate.The literacy rate in this district is just 16.82 per cent - male 27.07 per cent and Female 4.88 per cent.
Economy: Although the district is considered deficient in natural irrigation, about 90 per cent of the population depends in one way or other on agriculture for their livelihood. Walnuts is the major horticulture produce in the district. There is a great potential for the development of small scale industrial units due to the presence of huge forests. Rearing of live stock is also an important occupation of the people. There is no medium or large scale industrial units in the district. However, 38 small scale industries were set-up during 1980-81. A large proportion of the population (about 49 per cent) is unemployed and this seems to be a major cause for the gradual increase in  militancy in the district.
Important places:
1. Karnah Micro Hydel Project
2. Ruins of Ramkund temple at Farkaian in tehsil Handwara
3. Shardania temple at Guglusa in tehsil Handwara
4. Nandrishi Pir's Tomb at Magam in tehsil Handwara
5. Dhyaneshwar temple at Smattan in tehsil Handwara
Political Scenario: The NC(F) and the Congress are the two major political parties of the district. Sharief-ud-din (NC) from Karnah assembly constituency and Mushtaq Ahmed Lone (NC) from Kupwara assembly constituency won the seat in 1987. Chowdhary Mohd. Ramzan (NC) from Handwara assembly constituency and Abdul Ahmad Wani (NC) from Langate assembly constituency won seats in 1983 & 1987. Kafeel-ur-Rehman, Saifullah Amir, Mushtaq Ahmed Lone, Mohd. Ramzan Chaudhary and Abdul Ahad Wani (all NC/F) won the 1996 Assembly Elections. Saifuddin Shariq N(F) was elected to the Rajya Sabha through the biennial elections in 1996.
Influence of militancy: Militancy has affected Kupwara since 1988-89. The JKLF, which was the earliest outfit to go to Pakistan for arms training, started its activities from Kupwara. Most Kashmiri youth went across the border for training via Kupwara in the beginning. This district has many infiltration and exfiltration routes.

Baramulla

Photo: Manasbal Lake
Topography: The average height of the district is 1,581 metres above sea level. The district completely surrounds the district Kupwara and shares the border with POK at two places in the West as well as in the north-east. It also shares its border with Srinagar, Badgam and Poonch districts in the south and with Kargil in the east. The district has a flat surface, salubrious climate and scenic beauty. The geographical area of the district is 4,588 km with six tehsils namely Bandipur, Sonawari, Sopore, Baramulla, Gulmarg and Uri. It has 10 assembly constituencies namely Uri, Rafiabad, Sopore, Gurez, Bandipora, Sonawari, Sangrama, Baramulla, Gulmarg and Pattan. The literacy rate is 26.67 per cent - male 30.24 per cent and female 9.57 per cent.
Economy: Bulk of the district's population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Sopore tehsil is very famous for apple-growing. Rearing of live stock is one of the important occupations in the district. The co-operative movement has assumed considerable importance in the district. It has been the first district to generate and provide electricity to large parts of the state from Mohara Power House. Eight banks are operating there with 61 branches located at important centres.
Important places:
1. Mohara Power House
2. Wular Lake and Manasbal Lake
3. Khankah mosque Sopore
4. Shrine of Syed Jaanbaz Wali
5. Baba Reshi Shrine, Tangmarg
6. Syed Hilal Naquashbandi shrine
7. Shrine of Malik Padshah Sahib
8. Shrine of Shuhab Shah Qalandar
9. Relic of Shk. Abdul Qadir Zilani
10. Temples at Pattan and Buniyar
11. Narayan Thai in Baramulla tehsil
12. Shiv Mandir in Bandipora
Political Scenario: The NC(F), Congress and the Muslim United Front- Jamaat e Islami combine (MUF/JEI) are the major political parties in the district. Mohd. Kochey N(F) from Sonawari assembly constituency, Aga Mehbood N(F) from Pattan assembly constituency, Mustafa Kaul N(F) from Gulmarg assembly constituency, Ghulam Mohiuddin Bhat N(F) from Sangrama assembly constituency, Syed Ali shah Geelani (MUF/JEI) from Sopore assembly constituency and Ghulam Mohd. Khan N(F) from Rafiabad assembly constituency won the seats in 1987. Ghulam Rasool N(F) won the assembly constituency seat from Sonawari in 1983 and from Bandipur assembly constituency in 1987 whereas Ghulam Mohd. Maqbool (ND/F) won the Baramulla seat in 1983 and l987. Mohd. Shaft N(F) won the Uri assembly constituency seat in 1977, 1983 and 1987. Faqir Gh. Rasool Kar was elected to the Lok Sabha and Saifuddin Soz N(F) was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1996. Saifuddin Soz N(F) was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998.
Influence of militancy: Baramulla being a border district has been badly affected by terrorism. This district has some of the major infiltration/exfiltration routes. In some areas like Sopore, which have been traditionally dominated by the Islamic party JEI, militancy has been intense right from the beginning.

Srinagar

Photo: Srinagar
Topography: The district is located to the south-east of Baramulla. It shares its border with Baramulla, Badgam, Pulwama, Anantnag and Kargil districts from the west to east. The Valley is surrounded by the Hurmukh mountain (16,903 feet) in the East, Tosh Maidan (4,000 feet) in the North and Snony Kazi Nag (12,125 feet) in the North-West and also the Mahadev mountain. The Valley is a land of lakes, clear streams, green meadows and magnificent trees. The river Jhelum disects the district diagonally from south east to north-west. Srinagar is the state's capital. The geographical area of the district is 2,228 sq. km. with two tehsils namely Srinagar and Ganderbal. There are ten assembly constituencies namely Kangan, Ganderbal, Hazratbal, Zadibal, Idgah, Khaniyar, Habbakadal, Amirakadal, Sonawar and Batmaloo. The literacy rate is 33.9 per cent - male 41.97 per cent and female 24.66 per cent.
Economy: The district is predominantly urban in character. As per the 1981 census, 80.5 per cent of the total population was urban. It has developed all the characteristics of a tourist paradise, with tremendous growth in the development of handicraft and cottage industries, hotels, house boats, guest houses and tourist transport. Handicrafts of the district have become famous worldwide. There are not many large scale industries in the district but it has a good number of small scale industries with 186 units. Livestock rearing is another important occupation in the district, engaging about 5.25 per cent of the work force. Animal husbandry and sheep breeding have received special attention. Rice and maize are the main crops of the district. 
Important places:
1. HMT watch factory
2. Indian Telephone Industry
3. Silk weaving factory, Rajbagh
4. Nowshera Mill (wool spinning)
5. Sher-e-Kashmiri Medical Institute
6. Bone and Joint Hospital, Barzulla
7. Lalded Hosp. (women and children)
8. Hazratbal Shrine (Dal lake's bank)
9. Jamia Masjid, Srinagar
10. Aali Masjid, Srinagar city
11. Makhdoom Sahib shrine (Sunni)
12. New Masjid, Srinagar city
13. Khir Bhawani temple, Ganderbal tehsil
14. Temple at Dasnami Akhara bidg.
15. Shalimar Garden, Dal lake and Nishat Garden, Srinagar city
16. Khan Kahi Naqashbandi shrine, Srinagar city
17. Ziteshwar and Shiva temple (Shankaracharya hills)
18. Chakreshwari temple, Hari Parbat
Political Scenario: The NC(F) and the Congress are the major political parties in the district. Mian Altaf (Congress) from Kangan assembly constituency, Mohd. Yasin Shah N(F) from Hazratbal assembly constituency, P.L. Handoo N(F) from Habbakadal assembly constituency, Mohd. Shafi Khan N(F) from Idgah assembly constituency, Peer Mohd. Shaft N(F) from Zadibal assembly constituency won the seats in 1987. Farooq Abdullah N(F) from Ganderbal assembly constituency and Ali Mohd. N(F) from Zainakadal assembly constituency won the seats in 1983 & 1987 whereas Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah N(F) from Amirakadal and Abdul Samad Teli from Nagin assembly constituency won the seats in 1977, 1983 & 1987. Mian Altaf Ahmed, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Mohd. Sayyad Akhoon, Sadiq Ali, Mubaraq Gul, Ali Mohd. Sagar, P.L. Handoo, Mohd. Bhatt. Gh. Mohd. Bawan and Gh. Mohideen Shah (all NC/F) won the Assembly elections in 1996. G.M. Mir was elected to the Lok Sabha that year. Omar Farooq Abdullah N(F) was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998.
Influence of militancy: Srinagar being the capital and also the hub of all political activities in the state, has witnessed militancy in its most dramatic form. There was a time when outsiders could not walk safely in the streets. Today, all that is in the past. People, including security forces personnel, move about the city without incident. Occasional bomb blasts and grenade throwing incidents do occur but they are relatively rare nowadays.

Badgam
Topography:
The district was carved out from Srinagar on 1st July, 1979. It is centrally located in the Kashmir Valley. It is bounded by Srinagar in the north east, south and west by Poonch and in the north and north west by Baramulla. The district, has several high mountains, but has an average height of just 5,281 feet above sea level. The geographical area of the district is 1,371 sq. km. with three tehsils namely Chadura, Badgam and Beerwah. There are five assembly constituencies namely Chadura, Badgam, Beerwah, Khan Sahib, Charar-e-Sharief. The literacy rate is 17.86 per cent - male 26.51 per cent and Female 8.02 per cent.
Economy: The district falls among those backward areas of the State which suffered neglect in the past. A major section of the population depends on agriculture. The state agricultural department is paying due attention to develop allied sectors of agriculture in the district. For instance, about 300 mushroom production units have been set-up in the district. Saffron production is also picking up. Horticulture development has been given due importance. Social welfare activities have also been receiving increasing attention since 1979. Self-employment schemes have been introduced in the district to combat the unemployment problem.
Important places:
1. Charar-e-Sharief Shrine of Sheikh Nooruddin-Noorani
2. Asthana Sharief Shrine, Chaduara (Shia sect).
3. Imambara Gah (Shia Muslims).
4. Abno Gupta's cave in the vicinity of Beerwah.
5. Shrine of Sheikh Nooruddin at Drigam.
Political Scenario: The NC(F) and the Congress are the major political parties of the district. Ghulam Mohd. Mir (Congress) from Khansabal assembly constituency won the seat in 1987 while Syed Gh. Hassan Geelani N(F) from Badgam assembly constituency and Abdul Rahim Rathore N(F) from Charar-e-Sharief assembly constituency won the seat in 1977, 1983 and 1987. Syed Ahmed N(F) won the seat from Beeru assembly constituency in 1983 and 1987. Agha Syed Hussain Al Safi, President of the Anjuman-e-Sher-e- Shian, Hakim Yasin of Khan Saheb, ex-MLA, NCF, Ah Mohd. Dar, Gh. Hasan Gillani, Aga Syed Mehmood, Ab.Gani Tantray alias Naseem and Alt Rahim Rather, all NC(F), won the assembly elections in 1996.
Influence of militancy: Militancy has affected the district ever since 1988-89. The district has been the strong hold of the Hizbul Mujahideen. Syed Yusuf Shah, alias Syed Salahuddin, Supreme Commander of the HM, hails from this district.

Pulwama
Topography:
The district came into existence in July 1979. It is situated in the south eastern part of the Valley. It shares borders with Srinagar and Badgam in the north west and is bounded by the Anantnag district in nthe south and east. The geographical area of the district is 1,398 sq. km. with three tehsils namely, Shopian, Pulwama and Tral. There are six assembly constituencies in the district namely Tral, Pampore, Puiwama, Rajpora, Wachi, Shopian. The literacy rate is 20.47 per cent - male 30.56 per cent and female 9.21 per cent.
Economy: Agriculture is the main source of livelihood in the district. About 0.73 lakh hectares of land is available for cultivation. Mushroom cultivation and horticulture are of great importance to the economy. Livestock rearing is also an important occupation. Although Pulwama is an industrially backward district, as many as 659 small scale industrial units have been established in the district. Saffron cultivation in Pampore-Khrew ridge is the main source for export earnings.
Important places:
1. Jwalamukhi temple in village Khrew, tehsil Pulwama.
2. Tomb of Khwaja Masood , Pampore town.
Political scenario:The NC(F) and the Congress are the two dominant political parties in the district. Bashir Ahmed Nangroo N(F) from Pulwama assembly constituency, Gh.Mohiuddin N(F) from Pampore assembly constituency, Nazir Ahmed Wani N(F) from Shopian assembly constituency, Gh. Nabi Bai (Congress) from Tral assembly constituency and Abdul Aziz (Congress) from Noorabad assembly constituency won the seats in 1987. Ah Mohd. Nayak, Mushtaq Ahmed Kuchay, Bashir Ahmed Nengroo, Gh. Mohiuddin Mir, Ahmed Jabbar Mir and Mohd. Rafiq Seth all belonging to the NC(F) won the Assembly Elections in 1996.
Influence of militancy: Militancy has affected the district from 1988-89. The district has been the stronghold of Al-Jehad Force and its ex-chief Commander, Abdul Aziz Sheikh hails from this district.

Anantnag

Photo: Southern Kashmir
Topography: Anantnag is the southern most district of the Valley. It shares its border with district Pulwama in the west and from south to east it is attached to Rajouri, Udhumpur and Doda districts respectively. It borders Kargil in the north. The district is criss-crossed by a network of perennial rivers, streams and waterfalls. The geographical area of the district is 3,984 sq. km. with five tehsils namely, Pahalgam, Anantnag, Doru, Kulgam and Bijbehara. There are ten assembly constituencies in the district namely, Noorabad, Kulgam, Homeshalibug, Anantnag, Devsar, Doru, Kokemagh, Shangus, Bijbehara, Pahalgam. The literacy rate is 22.93 per cent - male  36.29 per cent and female 15.88 per cent.
Economy: Agriculture and livestock rearing are the main sources of livelihood. The district is also well-known for traditional handicraft like Gabbas and wooden craft. The district enriched with perennial streams with clean water has developed commercial fishing activities with a scattering of trout farms. Sericulture industry has earned a good name among all the small household industries in the district. To combat unemployment, 362 small scale units have been opened in the district under the self employment programme. An industrial complex for the manufacture of sports goods has also been constructed.
Important places:
1.Thermal Power Station at Pahalgam.
2.Shrine of Aishmuqam, Aishumuqam village.
3.Tomb of Baba Haider Reshi in Anantnag town.
4.Masjid Syed Sahib at the foot of Martand plateau.
5.Masjid Baba Dawood Kaki, Reshi Bazar, Anantnag town.
6.Amarath cave (46 Km. from the distt. Hq.)
7.Mattan temple at the edge of Mattan plateau.
8.Naghbal (Hindu religious centre).
9.Khir Bhawani Asthapan temple, Devibal.
10. Chappel of John Bishops Memorial Hospital, Anantnag.
11. Uma devi of Uma Nagri.
Political Scenario: The NF(F), MUF and the Congress are the major political parties of the district. Haji Abdul Razak Mir (MUF) from Kulgam assembly constituency, Ghulam Nabi (MUF) from Homeshalibagh assembly constituency, Mohd. Sayeed Shah (MUF) from Anantnag assembly constituency, Rafi Mir N(F) from Pahalgam assembly constituency, Haji Abdul Ghani N(F) from Bijbehara assembly constituency, Abdul Rasheed Dar N(F) from Shangus assembly constituency and Peer Zada Mohd. Sayeed (Congress) from Kokemag assembly constituency won the seats in 1987, whereas Ghulam Ahmed Shah N(F) from Devsar assembly constituency and Akbar Gani N(F) from Doru assembly constituency won the seats in 1983 and 1987. Mst. Sakeena Akhtar, Gul Rafiqui, Mohd. Shafdar Baig, Pir Zada Gh. Ahmed Shah, Gh. Hasan Bani, Syed Abdul Rasheed, Advocate, Abdul Mazid Mir, Miss Mehbooba, Abdul Kabir Pathan (all NC/F) and Mohd. Yusuf Rather alias Tarigami, (CPIM), won the assembly elections in 1996 and Mohd. Maqbool Dar was elected to the Lok Sabha in that year. Mushtaq Ahmed Bukhari, Nishar Ahmed, Gh. Mohd. Jan (all NC/F) won the assembly elections in 1996.
Influence of militancy : Militancy has affected this district severely. The district has been at the forefront of militancy since its beginnings in 1988-89. The district has witnessed high levels of violence.

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