The Demographic Expansion of Kashmir, and the Shrinking of Jammu and Ladakh
- In article
- 11:27 AM, Jul 09, 2016
- Shanmukh .True Indology . Aparna . Saswati Sarkar and Dikgaj
Introduction:: The state of Jammu and Kashmir has occupied the minds of many since 1947. The only Muslim majority state to accede to India, the state has been mired in controversy since its accession was prompted by a Pakistani invasion. Part of Kashmir was annexed by Pakistan in a war in 1947 and The Hindu population of the state has long been subjected to various forms of discrimination.
There are three major regions in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and the Hills of Jammu in the south, Kashmir valley in the north and the Ladakh region in the north east. Each of the three regions has its own characteristics. The bulk of the population is concentrated in Kashmir (which has a population of 6.9 million) and Jammu (which has a population of 5.3 million). The huge region of Ladakh has just over 200,000 people. In this article, we will focus on Ladakh and parts of the Jammu region. The Kashmir region, which is 99%+ Muslim, is not the focus of the article. Further, Jammu and Kathua (which are more than 90% Indic) are also not the focus of this article. In this article, we will focus on the regions of Hill Jammu and Ladakh, which have a more mixed population, in religious terms. Specifically, we focus on the three old districts of Hill Jammu, viz, Poonch, Udhampur and Doda and the district of Ladakh We will merely show that `Kashmir' is expanding and Hill Jammu and Ladakh are shrinking.
For the sake of historical consistency, we have grouped several districts together. In this article, we examine the following districts, which together comprise of 3 million people:
Poonch, which consists of the current Poonch and Rajouri districts,
Udhampur, which comprises of the current districts of Udhampur and Reasi,
Doda, which comprises of the current districts of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban
The above three districts comprise the region of Hill Jammu, which has been a region where neither Hindus nor Muslims have been a majority. The region of Ladakh has a large Buddhist population and consists of the sole district of historical Ladakh. The district Ladakh, comprises of the current districts of Ladakh and Kargil.
In all our computations, we have grouped the Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists together. In Hill Jammu, the population is mostly Hindu, with a small sprinkling of Sikhs. In Ladakh, it is Buddhists who predominate and the Hindus and Sikhs are a small minority. Consequently, the population of Ladakh may be considered Buddhist for all practical purposes.
Further, the presence of the army and/or the Border Security Force in the border districts greatly skews demographics. Consequently, we have removed the BSF and the Army from the census, by inferring the male population of the districts using the female demographics and the gender ratios.
Take Home Message 1 – Ladakh and Hill Jammu in Microscopic Detail:
Out of the four districts, two were Indic majority in 1961, and two more were Muslim majority. It will have changed to Muslim majority by 2061 and 1 Hindu majority. Hill Jammu was 38.75% Indic in 1961, rose to 47.44% in 1981 (due to influx of W Punjabi Hindu refugees during the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan) and fell back to 44.32% Indic in 2011. The higher Muslim fertility rates are wiping out the advantage gained by the Indics during the 1951-1981 period. However, the Hindu percentage is set to fall in the region. The polynomial curves, which give the most accurate prediction, predict a 35.94% Indic population in the region. We have given a quick overview of the situation.
The Hindu majority of Udhampur comes from the massive majority Hindus enjoy in Udhampur area. The Reasi area is already Hindu minority now (49% Hindu) and will be more Muslim by 2061. Gulabgarh and Gool Arnas will ensure that Reasi region remains strongly Muslim majority, even if Reasi tehsil remains Hindu.
In Doda district, all the tehsils, with the one solitary exception of Bhaderwah are already Hindu minority. Bhaderwah is also only 59.5% Indic. It too may change character in the next 50 years. The Dogra character of Doda is fast being lost. Even more worrying, in Bhadarwah, Bhaleesa regions of Doda, etc the local languages (Bhaderwahi, Bhaleesi, etc) are fast disappearing, along with the unique culture of these regions, due to the shrinking of the Hindus, who are the sole speakers of these languages. In the Ramban district, Banihal will ensure Hindu minority of the current Ramban district, leaving Ramban town the only Hindu majority region in the area. Even Ramban tehsil is Hindu minority now, a sharp fall from the clear Hindu majority in 2001. In the current Kishtwar district, only Poddar tehsil is Indic majority. Rest are Muslim.
In Poonch, both Poonch and Rajouri are Muslim majority. The current Poonch district is 90% Muslim, Indics have been eliminated in Mendhar, Mandi and Surankote tehsils. In the current Rajouri district, except for Sunderbani and Nowshera, other tehsils are already Indic minority.
Indics have been totally eliminated from the Thanamandi and the Darhal tehsils.
In Ladakh district, Indics have fallen from 54.5% in 1961 to 48. 37% in 2011. In fact, Ladakh benefited at Partition by the arrival of some Shigaris from Gilgit-Skardu provinces. The Indics are set to fall further. Indic growth has been extremely meagre in the region. In Leh district, Indics lost 10% of the population and fell from 82% in 2001 to 72% in 2011. Ladakh's Muslim population grew by 17% while the Buddhist population shrank by 2%. Given these figures, it is reasonable to expect a further shrinkage of the Indic population in Ladakh. Ladakh's Muslim population stems from the conversion of the Kings of Skardu (in today's PoK) to Shia Islam by Shamsuddin Iraqi in the 1500s, who converted them. Since then, the Muslim population of Kargil and Nubra (the Takshis) has grown. The Muslim population of Leh are, in contrast, Sunnis, and originally came from the Muslim wool traders (who got a monopoly on wool trade during the reign of Aurangzeb) who settled down and married local Buddhists (these Muslims were, in later years, called Arghons or half-castes).  This small number has in recent years, been augmented by influx from the Kashmir Valley.
The tragedy of the Buddhists of Ladakh is compounded by the fact that their collapse is very recent in Kargil and Drass areas, and has happened mostly in the last century. Dards of Kargil and Ladakh were influenced by Bon and by 7th century, most Dards either became Buddhist or followed Saura mata (sun worship). The native kings of Dardistan, who styled themselves as “Darada rajas”, patronised Buddhists and also erected wooden images of Surya with his attendants Danda and Pingala. During the reign of Jahangir(c.1614), Baharistan -i Shahi still describes Gurezis as Kafir.( Also see  which mentions that sultan returned successfully with booty after conducting a holy war on infidels) The Jihad against Dards was a common affair as noted by historian Alan vairo . This shows that Gurezis had resisted Islam for at least 300 years. In the late nineteenth century, the Shia Muslim chieftain of Skardu married her daughter Tila Khatoon to Thi Namgyal, the son of the Buddhist chieftain of Suru. The queen brought with her a Sufi who converted the Buddhists to Islam. It was believed that this Sufi had miraculous powers and those commoners seeking them, converted to Islam. . This percentage has been increased multi-fold through conspicuously high fertility rates and intention to outbreed in the last century, so much that Kargil is now a Muslim majority.
Take Home Message 2-Retreat of the Indics:
Indics have been effectively wiped out in several tehsils. In Kargil district, Indics have been wiped out in Sanku tehsil. Similarly, there are only a few hundred to a few thousand Indic individuals left in Surankote, and Mandi tehsils of Poonch and, Thanamandi tehsil of Rajouri.
Some tehsils saw a negative growth in the number of Indics. The total number of Indics actually shrank in the following tehsils.
The Hindu population has been shrinking in the following Tehsils/Towns. Hindus are vanishing from the Thanamandi-Darhal tehsil, which has a huge Muslim population. In Kishtwar, the Hindus have suffered many terrorist attacks , which could account for them leaving. In Ramban and Batote, Hindus have been inundated by the huge Muslim growth in the district. Further, the Hindus of Ramban and Batote may be leaving for Udhampur and Jammu for better facilities too.
Apart from this, Muslim population has grown enormously in many tehsils. In Kalakote tehsil (Rajouri district), Muslim population grew from 19,454, to 37,498 between 2001 and 2011, an unprecedented growth of 92.5% in 10 years! Similarly, in Nowshera tehsil of Rajouri, Muslims grew by 89% in 10 years between 2001 and 2011. Similarly, in Ramban (part of Doda district originally), Muslims grew from 37,545 to 91,504 persons – an impossible growth of 143.65%! Hindus too registered an impressive 36.3% growth in Ramban, but have been completely outgrown by the Muslims in the same, with the result that Ramban tehsil, which had 55% Hindus in 2001, have now been reduced to 40% Hindus in 2011. Finally, in the Reasi tehsil of (current) Reasi district, Muslims grew by an astonishing 77%.
Hindus have been growing south of the Chenab, though. Hindu proportion grew by 2% in Bhaderwah (Doda) and by 2% in (current) Udhampur district. Higher Hindu growth may indicate the relocation of Hindus south of the Chenab where they are in higher numbers.
A polynomial model based prediction of Buddhist population in Ladakh shows that the population has peaked in 2011 and set to decrease in absolute numbers in the coming decade. The population stands to fall to <1 lakh by 2031. In Leh district, Buddhists actually shrank from 90,618 in 2001 to 88,635 in 2011, a negative growth of 2.18%, while Muslims grew from 16156 to 19057 – a growth of 17.96% in the same period. With the fall in numbers, the Buddhist population is subjected to pressure from the Muslim population which is steadily rising. In the Kargil part of Zanskar, which is still 98% Indic, there were conversions to Islam recently . The Zanskar Buddhism, which is the last remnant of Buddhism in Kargil region, may well suffer the same fate the other Buddhists of Kargil suffered in the 1800s. Ladakhi Buddhist culture – unique now, with the destruction of the Buddhist culture of Tibet, - stands a good chance of being wiped out from existence, with the falling Buddhist populations and the rising Muslim populations.
The maps above show the shrinking of Indic population in both Ladakh and Hill Jammu, especially north of the Chenab. Indic population is shrinking in both districts of Ladakh. And in Hill Jammu, north of the Chenab, in only 2 of the 15 tehsils are the Indics growing. Indeed, in many, Indic population is rapidly shrinking in percentage terms and often, even in absolute numbers. The elimination of Indics north of the Chenab is a distinct possibility in the near future.
The template – a crude generalisation, it is true, but a template nonetheless – was that Jammu was Hindu, Ladakh was Buddhist and the Kashmir valley was Muslim. What all these statistics indicate is that both Ladakh and Jammu are shrinking, with only a few isolated Hindu strongholds (like Reasi tehsil of Reasi and Leh and Zanskar tehsils in Ladakh, where Indic population is over 70%) left, and `Kashmir' is growing. These will make Indic positions in Hill Jammu, north of the Chenab and Ladakh untenable.
Indeed, this seems to be the Pakistani position. In informal talks with the Chairman of the Observer group of newspapers, RK Mishra, envoy of the then PM, AB Vajpayee, the Pakistani envoy of Nawaz Sharif, Dr. Niaz Naik, had proposed the Chenab river as the boundary between India and Pakistan, with the regions north of Chenab becoming part of Pakistan and the region south becoming India. . It appears that the plan may still be part of the Islamist desired solution.
Take Home Message 3: How religious demography will evolve in the overall state of J&K
|Actual Indic Percentage||Predicted Indic Percentage in 2061|
|Jammu and Kashmir||31.64||31.10||26.16||28.43||22.99|
The different projections of Kashmir show that from a high of 35.03% in 1981, the Indic population has fallen back to 31.10 now and is all set to fall further to close to a quarter of the total population. The division of Kashmir, the influx of refugees from Pakistan (and Pakistan occupied Kashmir) and the removal of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir had improved Indic population share in the region, but the higher Muslim fertility rate has wiped out this advantage already and is set to further surge in population. Indic population grew at a healthy 19% between 2001 and 2011, but it was outstripped by the Muslim population which grew by 25% in the same period. Higher Muslim fertility, and falling Hindu fertility are set to skew the demographics further in the region.
However, a question may be genuinely posed as to why the province is Muslim majority at all, when it has been under Muslim rule for less than five centuries (from 1339 to 1819). On the other hand, Telangana and Avadh, which have been under Muslim rule for 500 years and 600 years respectively, never had more than 15% and 20% Muslims respectively. One possible cause of Islamisation of Kashmir may have been the fact that large numbers of Afghan settlers (estimated at 25% of the population of Kashmir in 1901 ) have settled down in Kashmir from early on and the lack of a strong nearby enemy once the land had been conquered, which made it easy for them turn the Kashmir valley into their private land and dominate it in such a short period. In some ways, this parallels the colonisation of lower Assam. In just a century of large colonisation from old united Bengal and now Bangladesh, large areas of lower Assam have been rendered Hindu free. . Further, this influx of Afghans and Pathans has continued unabated for all subsequent times. In 1954, Sheikh Abdullah granted citizenship to 1 lakh Pathans . Similarly, Muslim refugees of Tibet and Xinjiang were granted citizenship . In contrast, Hindus of West Punjab, who came to India between 1947 and 1971 have been denied citizenship rights still . The continuous influx of foreigners, especially Afghans, makes it more likely that Kashmir was converted by colonisation than by outright conversion.
The exodus of the Kashmiri Hindus has led to many questions about how many Hindus there really were in Kashmir and how many fled. In this article, we will try to answer those questions from purely statistics and known demographics.
In 1941, Hindus constituted 5.44% of the valley (4.95% including Muzaffarabad) and a total population of 86,000 persons, out of a total population of around 1.5 million. Between 1941 and 1961, the total population of Jammu And Kashmir State grew from 2.9 million to 3.6 million. Assuming the same rate of growth of the Hindu and Muslim populace between 1941 and 1961 (until 1962, when family planning was started on a wide scale, indeed the growth rates of Muslims and Hindus did not differ much), we get a total of 107,000 Hindus in 1961. Similarly, there were also around 27,000 Sikhs in two regions in 1941. Assuming that they grew at the same rate as the state average, there should have been around 45,000 Sikhs in 1961. Yet, in 1961, there were 106,000 Hindus and Sikhs in the Kashmir valley, showing a net deficit of ~34,000 Hindus and Sikhs. Indeed, this is observable in the combined Baramulla and Muzaffarabad districts, where from 6.5% in 1901, the Hindu and Sikh population fell to 2.4% in 1961. In 1981, there were 33,000 Sikhs out of the total Hindu and Sikh population of 157,000 people. Estimating the population of Sikhs in 1961, using the 1981 population, one gets the Sikh population to be around 20,000 Sikhs in 1961. Hindus seem to have suffered a loss of around 20,000 in this time.
The state's population grew from 3.56 million in 1961 to 12.54 million. The total number of Hindus and Sikhs has shrunk from 106,000 Hindus and Sikhs in 1961 to 80,000 Hindus and Sikhs in 2011. Of this, the Sikhs constitute approximately 56,000 persons in the Valley, leaving around 24,000 Hindus left in the entire region in 2011, or approximately 0.3% of the population. Thus from a healthy 5.2% of the total population in 1901, Hindus have fallen to 0.3% of the population in the Kashmir valley.
How many Hindus have been expelled from the region? If we assume that 20,000 of the population in the valley in 1961 was Sikh, then the total Hindu population was 86,000-91,000, which represents a loss of 16,000-21,000. The population of the Valley grew from 1.89 million in 1961 to 6.9 million in 2011, or roughly 3.65 times. In contrast, we shall assume that the Kashmiri Hindu population grew a two thirds to four fifths that rate, or from 107,000, to 261,000 (this is clearly a lower bound on the growth of the Hindus of Kashmir, and assuming a 2/3 of the Muslim growth rate accounts for the fact that the Hindus of Kashmir may have shown lesser natural growth than the Muslims of Kashmir given that the former were less educated) or 312,000 (assuming 80% of the Muslim growth). The total number of exiled population of Kashmiri Hindus is consequently, anywhere between 237,000 and 287,000 (depending on the growth rate one assumes for the Kashmiri Pandits).
The policies followed by the Government of Kashmir have not only led to the expulsion of the Kashmiri Pandits, but also led to the destruction of their cultural heritage. The Kashmiri language has been killed, by the imposition of the Urdu script for it, in place of the traditional Sharada script. The consequence of this has been that an entire generation of Kashmiris has been cut off from their own literary heritage, as all Kashmiri literature is in Sharada script, which only few of the current generation can read at all. Not only have the Kashmiri Pandits been physically eliminated from the Valley, but their cultural and literary heritages have also been coldly erased.
Statistical Predictions of the Various Districts – Details:
We have predicted the future populations using three standard techniques, viz, the constant growth model, the polynomial model and the logistic model. All three have been employed to predict the population growths till 2061.
Constant Growth Model:
In the constant growth model, we have assumed that the average growth of the different communities over the last decade will hold in future and predicted future populations based on this hypothesis. In this case, we have not used the last 2 decades since there was no census in Kashmir in 1991.
From the results, one can see that the Indic population proportion is set to fall in three of the four regions. The rise of Indic population in Udhampur is more likely an anomaly. The Muslim population in the region grew by 12% while the Indic population grew by 16% in the district. This, however, contradicts the longer term population trends in the district. It must be seen as an outlier and exception, consequently. However, Ladakh, Doda and Poonch are all Indic minority till 2061 in this model. Only Udhampur remains Indic majority.
In this model, a cubic polynomial is employed to predict the future populations. We believe that this technique is the most accurate, since it can account for both positive and negative population growths that are exhibited in the various districts.
In the polynomial technique, we can see that three of the four districts (Doda, Poonch and Ladakh) will be Muslim majority by 2061 (already are even today). The fourth, Udhampur, is set to lose Indic population share and fall to the 70% mark (or thereabouts).
In this logistic model, we try to fit a logistic curve to the data points, minimising the square error in the process. We do not believe that this technique is a good fit for the region that is showing rapid changes in populations. However, for the sake of completeness, we have included this technique in our examination too.
In this technique too, the districts that are Muslim majority and Indic majority remain the same as in the case of the polynomial. However, the predictions of Udhampur show a Hindu population share value that is too low because the logistic model is unable to take into account the rapid changes in the pace of growth of the populations of the various communities in the region. Similarly the Hindu population share of Doda is too high for the same reasons. Finally, the Ladakh values are also too high, because the technique assumes that the Hindu-Buddhist population of the region will stabilise (see fig. below) whereas, in fact, the Buddhist population has already begun to fall. The technique simply cannot cope up with the rapidly changing growth rates. Consequently, we have given less weightage to the results from this prediction technique.
Jammu and Kashmir – Statewise Predictions:
We have predicted the population of Jammu and Kashmir by all three afore mentioned techniques. We can see that the Indic population is set to fall in all three techniques, even while all the three techniques show slightly different predictions of the populations of the Indics. The likely population of Indics will be between 25 and 28% in 2061.
Jammu and Kashmir shows that the Indic population is set to fall to from 35% at the peak (in 1981) to nearly 25% in 2061. Ever larger areas of Hill Jammu are all set to become more Muslim and the Indics are in a retreat across both Ladakh and Hill Jammu. The implications for security of the Indics of Hill Jammu will become more critical and stark.
The authors are very grateful to Sunanda Vashisht for her insightful comments on the Kashmiri Hindu numbers and the status of the Kashmiri language in the Kashmir Valley.
(The article has been co-authored by Shanmukh (@maidros78), Vikram (@TrueIndology), Aparna ((@a_r_j_u_n), Saswati Sarkar (@sarkar_swati) and Dikgaj (@dikgaj))