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Kashmiris favour independence over India, Pakistan: Poll

Srinagar, May 26, 2010:

District wise map of response Poll Report (pdf)

More than 75 percent of people in Kashmir Valley, the centre of a bloody conflict against India, want an Independent Jammu and Kashmir, an opinion poll conducted by a UK based research house suggested.

The Chattam House released the report Wednesday.

The first ever poll on the issue to be conducted across both sides of Jammu and Kashmir divided by a line of control between India and Pakistan concluded that more than 43 percent of the state’s population wanted independence of the whole region, while support for the two options provided under the UN resolution i.e. joining India or Pakistan stood at 21 percent and 15 percent respectively.

The results, however, have been found highly polarised along religious lines in the Muslim dominated state.

The researcher Robert W Bradnock, senior visiting research fellow at King’s College London conducted the research for Chatham House with technical support from Ipsos MORI, in conjunction with FACTS Worldwide India and Aftab Associates in Pakistan.

A total of 3,774 respondents aged over 16 and selected on the basis of quota sampling were interviewed (face to face). Three districts of Indian administered Kashmir Doda, Pulwama and Kupwara were excluded along with Neelum Valley in Pakistan administered Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Bradnock who has also explored attitude to alternate solutions said that the results of the poll suggest that there was no single proposition for the future of Kashmir which could be put to the population of the former princely state and get majority support.

“One conclusion is clear: a plebiscite along the lines envisaged in the UN resolutions of 1948-49 is extremely unlikely to offer a solution today,” Brandock concludes.

Response

Independence: In aggregate 44 percent in AJK and 43 percent in J&K said they would vote for independence. However, while this is the most popular option overall, not only does it fail to carry an overallmajority, on the Indian side of the LoC it is heavily polarised. In the Kashmir Valley Division, commonly regarded as the core region of Kashmiri identity and of demands for its political recognition, support for independence runs at between 74 percent and 95 percent. In contrast, across JammuDivision it is under one percent. In Leh it is thirty percent and Kargil twenty percent.

Joining India: Twenty-one percent overall said they would vote to join India. However, only one percent on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control said they would vote for this, compared with 28 percent on the Indian side. In the Vale of Kashmir support for joining India was much lower, down to just two percent in Baramula. Only in Jammu and Ladakh Divisions was there majority support for joining India, rising to as high as eighty percent in Kargil.

Joining Pakistan: Fifteen percent overall said they would vote to join Pakistan. Fifty percent of the population on the Pakistani side of the LoC said they would choose to join Pakistan, comparedwith two percent in J&K, on the Indian side of the LoC. Badgam, in the Kashmir Valley Division, had the highest percentage vote for joining Pakistan at seven percent.

Poll report (pdf) Chatham House Ipsos Mori

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