Kargil district

Kargil district

Kargil (Hindi: कारगील ; IPA2|kərɡɪl) is a district of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Kargil lies on the line of control facing Pakistan-administered Kashmir's Baltistan to the west, and Kashmir valley to the south. Zanskar is part of Kargil district along with Suru, Wakha and Dras valleys. Kargil is a part of the Kashmir dispute and was at the center of a conflict between India and Pakistan in 1999.


Kargil district is nestled in the Himalayas, giving it a cool, temperate climate. Summers are warm with cool nights, while winters are long and cold with temperatures often dropping to −40 °C with recorded temperatures of −60°C in Drass, especially in the tiny town of Drass which is situated 56 km from the Kargil town. The Zanskar plateau is even colder, thus making it a near-uninhabitable place for humans to stay, except for the hardy Khampas. The entire Kargil district is spread over 14,086 km². The Suru River flows through the district.

A national highway that includes the Zojila pass connecting Srinagar to Leh, cuts through Kargil. This highway is open for traffic only from June to mid November every year due to heavy snowfall at the Zoji La. Kargil is located 120 miles (204 km) from the capital city of Srinagar. There is a partially paved road ( the first 40 km or so) leading from Kargil south to Zanskar which is a distance of nearly 220 km, which is only open from June to September each year. The region has recently been thrown open to tourists with steps being taken to promote the area as a tourist hub by the Indian Government. [http://www.financialexpress.com/latest_full_story.php?content_id=142719] Recently both India and Pakistan have considered linking the Pakistan town of Skardu with Kargil via a bus route to facilitate free movement of Kashmiris in the area. [ [http://www.ndtv.com/template/template.asp?fromtimeline=true&id=102160&callid=1&template=indopakfaceoff Pak considers Kargil-Skardu bus] March 15, 2007 NDTV]


With a population of 140,000 Kargil is the only Muslim majority district in Ladakh. Of total population, 85% are Muslim, of which 73% follow Shia Islam. Most of the district's Muslims are found in Kargil town, Drass, Wakha and the lower Suru valley. The remainder 14% are followers of Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, mostly found in Zanskar with small populations in the upper Suru valley (Rangdum) and around Shergol and Mulbekh. Another 1% of the population follow Hinduism and Sikhism.

Much of Kargil population is inhabited by the Burig and Balti people of Tibetan origin (converting from Buddhism to Islam in the 16th Century) and have intermingled with the Dard, Mon and other Aryan people. The mainly Muslim Dards inhabit the valley of Drass and speak Shina, a small number of Buddhist Dard, known as Brokpa, inhabit the Dha-Hanu region near the Lamayuru monastery. Some Arghons are also settled in Kargil Town.


Though earlier Tibetan contact has left a profound influence upon the people of both Kargil and Leh, still the people of Kargil after the spread of Shia Islam came under heavy influence of Persian culture as is evidenced by the rigorous use of Persian words and phrases in the popular religious as well as other songs called "marsias" and "qasidas".

Social ceremonies such as marriages still carries many customs and rituals which are common to both the Muslims and Buddhists. Among the two districts of Ladakh, Kargil has a more mixed ethnic population and thus there are more regional dialects spoken in Kargil as compared to Leh. Local folk songs which are called "rgyaglu" and "balti ghazals" are still quite popular and are performed enthusiastically at social gatherings. The J&K tourism ministry annually organises festivals in which various programmes are organised to highlight the culture so as to boost the tourism industry in the district. However, the tourism industry is still undeveloped despite attractive natural as well as rich cultural resources due to bad infrastructure and severe accommodation problems.


The name Kargil is said to be derived from the words Khar and rKil. Khar means castle and rKil means center thus a place between castles as the place lay between many kingdoms. The competing theory is that Kargil has been derived from the words "Gar" and "Khil". Gar in local language mean ‘Any where’ and Khil means a central place where people could stay.

Kargil remained relatively obscure right until the Partition of India when the issue of Kashmir became the focal point and resulted in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. There were pitched battles fought around Kargil which saw the entire area including Drass and Zoji La Pass initially coming under Pakistan control before most of it being reclaimed by Indian troops by November 1948. [http://www.dawn.com/2006/10/21/ed.htm Kargil: what might have happened By Javed Hussain] October 21, 2006, Dawn] It remained with India after the ceasefire. It again saw some action in the Second Kashmir War with India managing to wrest back the reminder of the Kargil area twice. The first capture was on May 17, 1965, when skirmishes broke out in Rann of Kutch, and India retaliated in the Kashmir sector. However, this had to be returned as per UNMOGIP treatise. On August 15, the same year Kargil fell to Indian forces, though it was once again returned as part of the Tashkent Agreement. However in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 the entire Kargil region including key posts was captured for good by Indian troops. [ [http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/1971/Dec08/Art01.htm Assault on Enemy OPs in Kargil Posts that were returned in 1965 twice occupied again] - A dramatized account of India's assault on Kargil during the 71 war hosted on "The Liberation Times" (A commemorative online newspaper)] In order to straighten out the line of control in the area, the Indian Army launched night attacks when the ground temperatures sank to below -17º and about 15 enemy posts located at height of 16,000 feet and more were captured. [ [http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/History/1971War/Palit.html The Lightning Concept by Major General D.K. Palit (Retd.)] ] After Pakistan forces lost the war and agreed to the Shimla Agreement, Kargil and other strategic areas nearby remained with India. [The Armed Forces of Pakistan By Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, Pg 4 ] Kargil became a separate district in the Ladakh region during the year 1979 when it was bifurcated from the Leh ditrict.

The area shot into the spotlight in spring of 1999, when under a covert plan hatched by the then Army Chief Pervez Musharraf, armed infiltrators from Pakistan, aided by the Pakistani army, occupied vacant high posts belonging to India in the Kargil and Drass regions. The result was a limited scale conflict (Kargil War) between both nuclear equipped nations that ended with India regaining the Kargil region through military power and diplomatic pressure.


Kargil district consists of 9 blocks: Gund Mangalpur Trespone, Sankoo, Shaker Chiktan, Shargole, Taisroo, Zanskar, Lungnuk, Drass and Kargil. [ [http://jkrd.nic.in/listAllDistricts.pdf Statement showing the number of blocks in respect of 22 Districts of Jammu and Kashmir State including newly Created Districts] dated 2008-03-13, accessed 2008-08-30] Each block consists of a number of panchayats.


Kargil District has 2 assembly constituencies: Zanskar and Kargil. [cite web| url=http://ceojammukashmir.nic.in/ERos_AERos.html | title=ERO's and AERO's | publisher=Chief Electoral Officer, Jammu and Kashmir | accessdate=2008-08-28]


Further reading

* Ghulam Mohiuddin Dar. "Kargil: Its social, culture, and economic history".
* [http://www.t2india.com/place-info.php?place=164-Kargil] , [http://www.journeymart.com/Dexplorer/AsiaIS/India/Jammu&Kashmir/?SubLink=DExplorer%2FAsiaIS%2FIndia%2FJammu%26Kashmir%2FciPeople_Inc.htm]

External links

* [http://kargil.nic.in/ "District Kargil", Official Kargil Site]
* [http://vkashmir.com/ "Virtual Tour of Jammau & Kashmir"]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1491179.stm "Pakistan's Northern Areas dilemma", "BBC"]
* [http://www.jktourism.org/cities/ladakh/kargil/ "Ladakh....Kargil"]


*Shireen M. Mazari, "The Kargil Conflict, 1999: Separating Fact from Fiction", The Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (2003) ISBN 9698772006

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