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Geography of Jammu and Kashmir

The terms "Kashmir" and "Muslim" are often loosely, and erroneously, used when referring to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has deliberately fostered this misrepresentation to stake its claim to what it terms a "Muslim State".

Indeed, the State of Jammu and Kashmir has a Muslim majority but is by no means a homogenous religious or ethnic entity. Like the rest of India, it represents a mosaic of different religions, different ethnic groups and cultures as do many other States of India. In its entirety, the State consists of Jammu to the south, Ladakh in the northeast and geographically the smallest segment Kashmir, comprised mainly of a river valley, surrounded by lofty mountains. All three segments are distinguished by their diversity. Jammu has a majority Hindu population(60%), but with substantial Muslim and Sikh minorities. Poonch, Rajouri and Doda, three of its six districts have Muslim majorities. Variations of Punjabi like Dogri and Pahari, are the languages most widely spoken , together with a smattering of Kashmiri. Ladakh has two districts; one, Leh, overwhelmingly Buddhist and the other, Kargil, overwhelmingly (73%) Shia Muslim. The languages there are Ladakhi and Balti. Kashmiri is not indigenous to this geographically largest constituent of the State. The Kashmir Valley itself is predominantly Muslim, with small components of Hindus and Sikhs. Kashmiri is the predominant language, but with entire regions speaking Shina and Pahari.

The constituent units of the State of Jammu and Kashmir still retain many of their distinctive religious, ethnic and linguistic features. This heterogeneity was not lost even when they were incorporated in one or the other empire - Maurya, Kushan, Mughal, Sikh or British, and today it reflects the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity of India.

 

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