According to the mid-12th century text Rajatarangini the Kashmir Valley was formerly a lake. Hindu mythology relates that the lake was drained by the sage Kashyapa, by cutting a gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varaha-mula), and invited Brahmans to settle there. This remains the local tradition and Kashyapa is connected with the draining of the lake in traditional histories. The chief town or collection of dwellings in the valley is called Kashyapa-pura, which has been identified as Kaspapyros in Hecataeus (Apud Stephanus of Byzantium) and the Kaspatyros of Herodotus.

During the early 1300s local leaders embraced Islam and due to the arrival of proselytizing Central Asian ulama, most Kashmiris accepted Islam by the late 1400s. Kashmir remained under Muslim rule for five centuries.The Pashtun Durrani Empire ruled Kashmir in the 18th century until its 1819 conquest by the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh. The Raja of Jammu Gulab Singh, who was a vassal of the Sikh Empire and an influential noble in the Sikh court, sent expeditions to various border kingdoms and ended up encircling Kashmir by 1840. Following the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–1846), Kashmir was ceded under the Treaty of Lahore to the East India Company, which transferred it to Gulab Singh through the Treaty of Amritsar, in return for the payment of indemnity owed by the Sikh empire. Gulab Singh took the title of the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. From then until the 1947 Partition of India, Kashmir was ruled by the Maharajas of the princely state of Kashmir and Jammu. According to the 1941 census, the state’s population was 77 percent Muslim, 20 percent Hindu and 3 percent others (Sikhs and Buddhists).

According to the census reports of 1911, 1921 and 1931, the administration was organised as follows:

Jammu province: Districts of Jammu, Jasrota (Kathua), Udhampur, Reasi and Mirpur.
Kashmir province: Districts of Kashmir South (Anantnag), Kashmir North (Baramulla) and Muzaffarabad.
Frontier districts: Wazarats of Ladakh and Gilgit.
Internal jagirs: Poonch, Bhaderwah and Chenani.

In the 1941 census, further details of the frontier districts were given:

Ladakh wazarat: Tehsils of Leh, Skardu and Kargil.
Gilgit wazarat: Tehsils of Gilgit and Astore
Frontier illaqas: Punial, Ishkoman, Yasin, Kuh-Ghizer, Hunza, Nagar, Chilas.

 

In 1947, Britain gave up its rule of India each of the princely states was now free to join India or Pakistan or to remain independent. Most of the princes acceded to one or the other of the two nations. Maharaja Hari Singh decided to stay independent because he expected that the State’s Muslims would be unhappy with accession to India, and the Hindus and Sikhs would become vulnerable if he joined Pakistan. Faced with the Maharaja’s indecision on accession, the Muslim League agents clandestinely worked in Poonch to encourage the local Muslims to an armed revolt,  The authorities in Pakistani Punjab waged a ‘private war’ by obstructing supplies of fuel and essential commodities to the Jammu and Kashmir State. The Gilgit Scouts staged a rebellion in the Northern Areas under British command. As a result, this region became effectively a part of Pakistan (and has since been administered by Pakistan). Subsequently Kabaili tribesmen (Mehsuds and Afridis) from the Northwest Frontier Province invaded Kashmir proper. The Pakistan Army’s British chiefs, Sir Frank Messervy and Douglas Gracey, refused to involve the armed forces. Later in September, Muslim League officials in the Northwest Frontier Province, including the Chief Minister Abdul Qayyum Khan, assisted and possibly organized a large-scale invasion of Kashmir by Pathan tribesmen. On 22 October 1947, Pakistan’s Pashtun tribal militias crossed the border of the state. These local tribal militias and irregular Pakistani forces moved to take Srinagar, but on reaching Baramulla, they took to plunder and stalled. Hari Singh made a plea to India for assistance, and help was offered, but it was subject to his signing an Instrument of Accession to India.

With independence no longer an option, the Maharaja turned to India, requesting troops to safeguard Kashmir. Although Nehru was ready to send troops, Governor-General Mountbatten advised the Maharaja to accede to India before India would send its troops. The Kabaili tribesmen spread into Kashmir. So the Maharaja signed the Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India on 26 October 1947.

The Instrument was accepted by the Governor-General the next day, 27 October. With the signature of the Maharaja and the acceptance by the Governor-General, the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir became a part of the Dominion of India. After the accession, India airlifted troops and equipment to Srinagar under the command of Lt. col. Dewan Ranjit Rai

On 1 November 1947, Mountbatten flew to Lahore for a conference with Jinnah, proposing that, in all the princely States where the ruler did not accede to a Dominion corresponding to the majority population (which would have included Junagadh, Hyderabad as well as Kashmir), the accession should be decided by an ‘impartial reference to the will of the people’. Jinnah rejected the offer.

The Pakistan army made available arms, ammunition and supplies to the rebel forces who were dubbed the ‘Azad Army’. Pakistani army officers ‘conveniently’ on leave and the former officers of the Indian National Army were recruited to command the forces. The British commanding officers initially refused the entry of Pakistani troops into the conflict, citing the accession of the state to India. In May 1948, the Pakistani army officially entered the conflict, in theory to defend the Pakistan borders, but it made plans to push towards Jammu and cut the lines of communications of the Indian forces in the Mendhar valley. The fronts solidified gradually along what came to be known as the Line of Control. A formal cease-fire was declared at 23:59 on the night of 31 December 1948

Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was the Prime Minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir after its accession to India in 1947 .He was later jailed and exiled. In May 1953, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, a prominent Indian leader of the time and the founder of Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Jana Sangh (later evolved as BJP), made a bid to enter Jammu and Kashmir after denying to take a permit, citing his rights as an Indian citizen to visit any part of the country. Abdullah prohibited his entry and promptly arrested him when he attempted. An estimated 10,000 activists were imprisoned in Jammu, Punjab and Delhi, including Members of Parliament. Unfortunately, Mukherjee died in detention on 23 June 1953, leading to an uproar in whole India . Abdullah was dismissed from the position of Prime Ministership on 8 August 1953 and Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was appointed as the new Prime Minister. The expressions ‘Sadar-i-Riyasat’ and ‘Prime Minister’ were replaced with the terms ‘Governor’ and ‘Chief Minister’ in 1965.

After Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Amanullah Khan and Maqbool Bhat, along with Hashim Qureshi, in 1966, formed another Plebiscite Front in Azad Kashmir with an armed wing called the National Liberation Front (NLF), with the objective of freeing Kashmir from Indian occupation and then liberating the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. Later in 1976, Maqbool Bhat is arrested on his return to the Valley. Amanullah Khan moved to England and there NLF was renamed Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

Sheikh Abdullah again became the Chief Minister of the state following the 1974 Indira-Sheikh accord and remained in the top slot till his death on 8 September 1982. Later his eldest son Farooq Abdullah succeeded him as the Chief Minister of the state. During the 1983 Assembly elections, Indira Gandhi campaigned aggressively, raising the bogey of a ‘Muslim invasion’ in the Jammu region because of the Resettlement Bill, passed by the then NC government, which gave Kashmiris who left for Pakistan between 1947 and 1954 the right to return, reclaim their properties and resettle. On the other hand, Farooq Abdullah allied with the Mirwaiz Maulvi Mohammed Farooq for the elections and charged that the state’s autonomy had been eroded by successive Congress Party governments. The strategies yielded dividends and the Congress won 26 seats, while the NC secured 46.  On July 2, 1984, Ghulam Mohammad Shah, who had support from Indira Gandhi, replaced his brother-in-law Farooq Abdullah and became the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, after Abdullah was dismissed, in what was termed as a political “coup”.In 1986, Shah decided to construct a mosque within the premises of an ancient Hindu temple inside the New Civil Secretariat area in Jammu to be made available to the Muslim employees for ‘Namaz’. People of Jammu took to streets to protest against this decision, which led to a Hindu-Muslim clash. On his return to Kashmir valley in February 1986, Gul Shah retaliated and incited the Kashmiri Muslims by saying Islam khatrey mein hey (trans. Islam is in danger). As a result, communal violence gripped the region, in which Hindus were targeted, especially the Kashmiri pandits, who later in the year 1990, fled the valley in large numbers. After the 1987 state legislative assembly election, some of the results were disputed. This resulted in the formation of militant wings and marked the beginning of the Mujahadeen insurgency, which continues to this day.

In July 1988, the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front began a separatist insurgency for independence of Kashmir from India. The group targeted a Kashmiri Hindu for the first time on September 14, 1989, when they killed Pandit Tika Lal Taploo, an advocate and a prominent leader of Bharatiya Janata Party in Jammu & Kashmir in front of several eyewitnesses.

Syed Mohammed Yusuf Shah, popularly known as Syed Salahudeen, the future head of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen,in 1987, contested the J&K assembly election on the ticket of the Muslim United Front, a coalition of political parties in Srinagar’s Amira Kadal constituency. Mohammad Yusuf Shah who stood for the Legislative Assembly elections in 1987 from Amira Kadal, Srinagar. He came second after Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah of the moderate National Conference won the seat. Mohammed Yusuf Shah was arrested and put in jail for his violent agitations.After his arrest for violent protests and release in 1989, he then joined Hizbul Mujahideen founded by Muhammad Ahsan Dar alias “Master” who later parted from Hizbul Mujahideen. He soon took over as the chief of Hizbul Mujahideen and then adopted nom de guerre “Sayeed Salahudeen