In 1947 Britain prepared to end nearly a century of rule over the Indian subcontinent and its 390 million people. Hindus were concentrated in central and southern India, Muslims in Bengal in the northwest.
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A British Commission divided the territory into majority Muslim
Pakistan and majority Hindu India. In the chaos that followed partition, 15 million people fled across the new borders and 500,000 died in rioting. Four border regions saw the worst of it: Sindh, Bengal, Punjab, and Jammu and Kashmir.
Among India's 565 princely states only Jammu and Kashmir had a
Hindu Maharajah ruling over a majority Muslim population. India claimed the Maharaja decided to join India. Pakistan disputed this.
In October Pashtuns from Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province invaded Kashmir with the support of Pakistan's government. In October of 1947 the Maharaja left Srinagar. Indian troops were airlifted in but were ill-prepared for the cold and altitude. Pakistan responded with its own campaign and India approached the United Nations to broker a ceasefire which went into effect on January 1st 1949, establishing a line of control but no final border.
In 1962 China attacked India in the Aksai Chin region of Kashmir easily defeating India's poorly equipped Himalayan troops. China retains control of the Aksai Chin today. Three years later encouraged by China's success Pakistan sent troops across the line of control dressed as Kashmiri locals - the fighting proved brief and inconclusive. On September 22nd both sides agreed to a un-backed ceasefire. Another brief war broke out over East Pakistan in 1971 - this one conclusive. East Pakistan seceded. Ten million refugees streamed into West Bengal and, with India's help, Bangladesh was born. In 1999 after both India and Pakistan had successfully tested nuclear weapons, full-scale war was barely avoided when Pakistan tried to seize the cargill region of indian-controlled Kashmir.
At one time an average of one Pakistani soldier every four days and one Indian soldier every other day died at the Siachen glacier and the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 were reportedly planned by senior members of lashkar-e-taiba, which Pakistan created to fight Indian domination of Kashmir and which India accuses of terrorist atrocities all over India.
The conflict simmers in 2007, 777 people were killed in violence in Jammu and Kashmir bringing the two decade total above 47,000 by India's official count. according to some Kashmiris the total is twice that number.
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