It's absurd to suggest that Kashmir was never a part of India or that India had no links with Kashmir through centuries of its political, cultural and civilisational history. Kashmir has always been integral to India as it existed before it became a modern nation state. Those who question this are ill-informed and poor students of history
The 'debate' on whether or not Kashmir was ever a part of India, which is periodically instigated by callous statements of separatists and their supports in the intelligentsia, is really spurious and needless. Those who claim that Kashmir was never a part of India are clearly ignorant of history.
Rakhahari Chatterjee of Kolkata has brought to notice what Alberuni has recorded. Alberuni, while accompanying Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni to India in the beginning of the 11th century, had this to say on Kashmir: "Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country and performed wonderful exploits, by which Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions. This is the reason, too, why Hindus have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us and have fled to places which our hand cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benares, and other places."
We could, however, begin with a look at the broader issue: What was, or is, India? India, as we know it today, finds a descripttion in the epics and the puranas:
"Uttaram yat samudrasya
Varsham tad Bharatam nama
Bharati yatra santatih". (Vishnu Purana)
"The country that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bharata; there dwell the descendants of Bharata."
Thus India has existed since time immemorial as a political entity if not a nation state. Hence, as luck (or bad luck) would have it, there was no single political entity before August 15, 1947, notwithstanding the existence of a huge landmass of India or Bharatvarsha with a cultural continuity and history. Thus, Kashmir or Kamrup, Pundravardhanabhukti or Takshila, Khyber or Kutch, all existed within the geographical territory of India.
In this connection, one may ask those who insist that Kashmir was never a part of India: Is the present-day Pakistan, which was born in August 1947, ever a part of India? Else, how do historians write the pre-1947 history of Pakistan, if any? Can self-declared 'historians' like Arundhati Roy bare their thoughts on an accurate and balanced interpretation based on an 'authentic' version of the history of South Asia?
It would, therefore, be useful to have a look at a brief summary of Kashmir's history as it was through the ages vis-à-vis India. The dominions of Ashoka included the secluded vales of Kashmir. The chronicles of Kashmir mention Jalauka as the son and successor of Ashoka in the Kashmir Valley in the 3rd century BC. Historian Kalhana hints at Kashmir's attempted secession during the rule of later Mauryas. Towards the close of the 3rd century BC, the Kabul Valley (the immediate neighbour of Kashmir) was ruled by Subhagasena whose title was 'King of the Indians'. Hence, two things clearly stand out. First, Kashmir showed signs of secession even in the 4th and 3rd century BC and the Kabul Valley constituted a part of Indian geography and the fractured polity thereof.
In the 1st century AD, the Kushan king Kanishka's empire (whose capital was Purushapura or Peshawar) included Kashmir, as testified by Kalhana in his Rajatarangini. In the 7th century AD, however, "Kashmir grew into a first-rate power under a local dynasty, styled as Karkota, founded by Durlabhavardhana." And the man who took the power of Kashmir to its zenith was Lalitaditya, the grandson of Durlabhavardhana, leading his troops to distant countries, including Tibet and the land inhabited by Turks along Indus and in Gaud (modern northern Bengal).
According to noted historian RC Majumdar, "The province of Kashmir in the far north of India produced in the 9th and succeeding centuries a number of teachers who are reckoned among the greatest exponents of the Saiva doctrine and philosophy". If we fast forward to 14th century, we will find that Shah Mirza, a Muslim adventurer from Swat, "entered the service" of the Hindu Prince of Kashmir in 1315 AD. After the death of the Prince, Shah Mirza usurped the throne of Kashmir in 1339 and assumed the title of Shams-ud-din Shah and issued fresh currency embossed with his emblem.
Shah Mirza's dynasty continued till 1540 when Mirza Haidar, a relative of Humayun, annexed Kashmir. The liberal rule in Kashmir, meanwhile, had badly suffered owing to some of Shah Mirza's insensitive successors who were extremely intolerant of non-Muslims and imposed jizya on Hindus. There was a brief period of benevolent and enlightened rule when Zain-ul-Abidin (described as the 'Akbar of Kashmir') was in power. Kashmir was ultimately absorbed into the Mughal Empire by Akbar in 1586, thereby becoming another subah under Delhi's direct rule.
During the war of succession between the sons of Shahjahan in the mid-17th century, Kashmir figured prominently in the scheme of things of the fighting siblings. As Aurangzeb emerged victorious, he soon came in direct confrontation with Tegh Bahadur, the 9th Sikh Guru based at Anandpur, who protested against certain measures of the Emperor and instigated the Brahmans of Kashmir to resist the Mughal Emperor.
Afghan invader Ahmad Shah Abdali conquered Kashmir in 1751 and forced the Mughal monarch Ahmad Shah to cede a huge swath of land up to Sirhind. In 1819, however, Kashmir once again came under an Indian ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. From this point onwards, the trajectory of the history is too well known to be repeated. It would suffice to say that Kashmir has been linked to the history of India for thousands of years.
Hence, when some 21st century non-Kashmiri celebrities betray a lamentable lack of basic knowledge of their own country and its civilisational and cultural history, how can one blame or criticise non-Indians who display lack of judgement and avoid an objective analysis of historical facts? Thus, the statement of Arundhati Roy, in the light of Alberuni's recorded history, along with the journey of Kashmir through the ages, makes her a poor student of history. We need not take her seriously at all.