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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Muslim-Hindu demography of Jammu and Kashmir: What Census data show

The Census of 2011 showed that the religious make-up of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir had remained almost entirely unchanged over the previous half century.

Written by Zeeshan Shaikh , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai |
Updated: December 2, 2020 7:24:15 am
J&K permanent residents, J&K land laws, J&K land laws explained, J&K demography, J&K religious demography, Muslims in J&K, Gupkar parties, Indian ExpressMembers of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (an alliance of political parties including National Conference, PDP, CPI, CPM and People’s Conference) at a meeting on October 24, 2020. (Express Photo: Shuaib Masoodi)

The land laws that were amended and notified by the Centre for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday (October 26) have omitted the protection earlier available to its “permanent residents”. It allows the purchase of non-agricultural land by outsiders, even though the government may provide some protection through notifications.

The decision, celebrated by BJP leaders and spokespersons, has given fresh wind to fears expressed by political parties in Kashmir about attempts to fundamentally alter the demography of the Valley. On Tuesday, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah posted on Twitter that the Centre had now ended “even the tokenism of domicile”, and that “J&K is now up for sale”.

The Census of 2011 showed that the religious make-up of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir had remained almost entirely unchanged over the previous half century. The special status of Jammu and Kashmir under the Constitution was removed on August 5, 2019, and the state was split into two Union Territories.

What was the demographic make-up of the state of Jammu and Kashmir before Independence?

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The pre-Independence Census of 1941 recorded Muslims as constituting 72.41% of the population, and Hindus 25.01%. Thereafter, the proportion of Muslims in the state’s population fell gradually.

So how did the demography of Jammu and Kashmir change between Independence and now?

Jammu and Kashmir was not a part of independent India’s first Census in 1951. The 1961 Census showed that Muslims, with a population of 24.32 lakh, constituted 68.31% of the state’s population of 35.60 lakh, while Hindus, numbering 10.13 lakh, made up 28.45%.

A full 50 years later, these percentages came out identical: the Census of 2011 recorded the Muslim population at 85.67 lakh — again, 68.31% of the total population of 125.41 lakh (1.25 crore). And the Hindu population was 35.66 lakh — 28.43% of the total. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

And how did the share of population of the two communities change in the Censuses in between?

The percentage of Muslims in the (erstwhile) state started to fall after the 1961 Census when the community made up 68.3 per cent of the population. In the Census of 1971, it was 65.83 per cent and, in the Census of 1981, it fell to 64.19 per cent.

The beginning of militancy ensured no Census could be conducted in Jammu and Kashmir in 1991. But in the next Census in 2001, the proportion of Muslims in the population touched 66.97 per cent — more than the community’s share in 1971. And in 2011, it had risen further to reach exactly what it was in 1961 (68.31%).

Consequently, the share of Hindus in the population moved in the opposite direction — increasing from 28.45 per cent in 1961 to 30.42 per cent in 1971, and peaking at 32.24 per cent in 1981; before falling to 29.62 per cent in 2001 and further to 28.43 per cent in 2011.

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How has the demography changed at the level of individual districts?

Jammu and Kashmir originally had 14 districts — six each in the Kashmir and Jammu divisions, and two in Ladakh. Ten of these districts were Muslim-majority — all six in Kashmir, three in Jammu, and one in Ladakh.

The remaining three districts in Jammu had a Hindu majority, and the remaining district in Ladakh was Buddhist majority.

In 2006, eight new districts were created, taking the total number of districts in the erstwhile state to 22.

Of these, 17 are Muslim majority — 10 in Kashmir, six in Jammu, and one in Ladakh. Hindus are the majority community in four districts of the Jammu division; Buddhists are the majority in Leh.

In most districts of Kashmir, the percentage of Hindus went up in the 2011 Census as compared to 2001. The same was the case with Muslims in the districts of Jammu.

What is the share of migrants in the population of (the erstwhile state of) Jammu and Kashmir?

Only about 1.64 lakh (1.31 per cent) of the 1.25 crore population of Jammu and Kashmir (as per the 2011 Census) are people who stay there, but who were born elsewhere. In India as a whole, 4.64 per cent of the population lives in a state in which they were not born.

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