The history of Kashmir is traceable as far back as 4000 years B.C. Twenty-one dynasties of Hindus, Buddhists, Jams and Zoroastrians had ruled
Kashmir till 14th century A.D when Muslims appeared at its political stage. Of these twenty-one dynasties, eighteen were native under whom Kashmir enjoyed an independent status and comparatively far more prosperity. During the period of Lalita Ditya, one of the most powerful kings of pre- Muslim era who ruled Kashmir from 715 to 752 A.D., most of the present Punjab, a part of Tibet and a large area of Central Asia were under the kingdom of Kashmir. Kashmir commanded high respect from all neighbouring states.
Muslims ruled the state for 480 years (1339 to 1819 A.D.) and this included 246 years of independence. Kashmir attained the peak of her glory during the period of Sultan Zainul Abedin (1420 to 1470 A.D.) popularly known as Budshah. Budshah, the great king as it means in Kashmiri language, was one of the noblest sons of the soil. People used to call him “Budshah” with love and affection and even today they mention his name with great respect. Budshah’s Kashmir was a model of economic prosperity, social justice and communal harmony in this part of the world. As a great centre of learning and culture, Kashmir attracted students from India, Persia, Central-Asia and Middle- East. Trade and commerce were at their peak and all the neighbouring nations held Kashmir in great esteem. As a free patriotic nation, Kashmiris repulsed all those forces, which posed a threat to their independence. Budshah’s rule of 50 years is therefore called the ‘golden period” of Kashmir history. Before Budshah, Sultan Shahabuddin, another illustrious son of the soil had consolidated Kashmir’s independence paving the way for Budshah to make it a Welfare State. Embassies represented Kashmir in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Delhi and Gujarat.
With the death of Badshah began the gradual decline of Kashmir’s golden era. Budshah’s Khahmiri dynasty was later over thrown by Chaks who ruled the State for quite some time and in 1585 A.D. the independence of Kashmir came to an end when Akbar, the great Moghal king of India annexed Kashmir but only after facing two defeats (and perhaps the only two during his kingship) at the hands of Kashmiri patriots. Mughals ruled the State for about 167 years.
As lovers of natural beauty, they visited Kashmir quite often and took steps to add to its loveliness by raising stylish buildings and beautiful gardens. But Mughals did not bother much to improve common man’s lot. On the contrary, they forcibly introduced a typical way of living on Kashmiris. This was a very effective recipe to deprive them of their erstwhile bravery, militancy and self-confidence, in order to eliminates all chances of revolt by them
With the decline of Mughal power, Kashmir was annexed by Afghans. The Afghan rule over Kashmir, which lasted for 67 years (1752 to 1819 A.D.) was one of cruelty and loot. Most of the Afghan governors of Kashmir crushed the people ruthlessly. But there was something worse in store for Kashmiris. The Sikhs conquered the State and made it a colony of theirs. The Sikh rule, which lasted for only 27 years, was worse than that of the Afghans. Continuous slavery and ruthless suppression by foreign rulers had badly demoralized Kashmiris hence they could not put up a concerted resistance against alien domination and suppression and that subjected them to yet another slavery. In 1846 when the British conquered Kashmir as a result of a defeat which they inflicted on the Sikhs with the treacherous help of their defence minister.
Kashmir was sold to Gulab Singh for Rs7.5 Million like a commercial commodity for a sum of this most ignominious and inhuman transaction was made in March 1846 under an agreement called the Treaty of Amritsar.
Gulab Singh and his successors ruled Kashmir with an iron hand. Some patriots who resisted the inhuman suppression were flayed alive and others subjected to other similar atrocities. This wave of repression continued until 1931 when the Muslims of Kashmir realized that they would perish if they continued to let the ever-increasing suppression go unchecked and unarrested. They abruptly rose in revolt against the despotic ruler and within a couple of years compelled him to concede to them a number of political, economic and social rights.
In 1946, exactly one hundred years after their sale in 1846, Kashmiris rose in open revolt.The movement was anyhow crushed and its leaders sentenced to long imprisonments. In 1947 the indo-Pak Subcontinent was divided and freed by the British. The ruler of Kashmir was being compelled by Indian leaders to ‘accede’ to India against the wishes of the people who rose in open rebellion and freed over one third of the State territory. The liberated territory was later further divided into two parts i.e. Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.