Territorial claims


Historically the people of Hunza cultivated and grazed areas to the north, and the Mir claimed those areas as part of Hunza's territories. Those areas included the Taghdumbash Pamir and the RaskamValley.
According to Kanjuti traditions, as related by McMahon, the Mir’s eighth ancestor, Shah Salim Khan pursued nomadic Khirghiz thieves to Tashkurghan and defeated them. “To celebrate this victory, Shah Salim Khan erected a stone cairn at Dafdar and sent a trophy of a Khirghiz head to the Chinese with a message that Hunza territory extended as far as Dafdar”. The Kanjutis were already in effective possession of the Raskam and no question had been raised about it. The Mir’s claims went a good deal beyond a mere right of cultivation. He “asserts that forts were built by the Hunza people without any objection or interference from the Chinese at Dafdar, Qurghan, Ujadhbhai, Azar on the Yarkand River and at three or four other places in Raskam.”
McMahon was able to roughly define the territorial limits of Kanjut. “The boundaries of Taghdumbash, Khunjerab and Raskam, as claimed by the Kanjuts, are the following: the northern watershed of the Taghdumbash Pamir from the Wakhjir Pass through the Baiyik peak to Dafdar, thence across the river to the Zankan nullah; thence through Mazar and over the range to Urok, a point on the Yarkand river between Sibjaida and Itakturuk. Thence it runs along the northern watershed of the Raskam valley to the junction of the Bazar Dara River and the Yarkand River. From thence southwards over the mountains to the Mustagh River leaving the Aghil Dewan or Aghil Pass within Hunza limits."
McMahon’s information was substantially corroborated in 1898 by Captain H.P.P.Deasy who threw up a commission to devote himself to Trans Himalayan exploration. An item of special interest was Deasy’s description of the limits of Raskam. Starting from Aghil Dewan or pass, in the Karakoram range, the dividing line ran north-east to Bazar Dara, where it met the Yarkand River. He found an outpost built of earth at Bazar Dara, surmounted by a Chinese flag (by 1898 the Chinese had intruded to the area south of the Kun Lun Mountains with a few unarmed Kirghiz in occupation. This was obviously intended as a Chinese boundary marker. From there the line ran “along the northern watershed of the Raskam valley to Dafdar in the Taghdumbash Pamir, to the north of the mills at that place, and thence to the Baiyik peak. Deasy also came upon clear evidence of what could only have been Kanjuti occupation. South of Azgar “many ruins of houses, old irrigation channels and fields now no longer tilted , testify to Raskam having formerly been inhabited and cultivated”. Anyone familiar with the care with which the Kanjuts cultivate every available strip of land in their own Hunza would have no hesitation in regarding this as proof of long standing Kanjuti occupation. The remains could not have been attributed to the Kirghiz; they were unfamiliar with the state of art. "Seven locations in the Raskam were involved. Azgar and Ursur on the right bank, and five others on the left, that is on the Mustagh-Karakoram side-Kukbash, Kirajilga, Ophrang, Uroklok, and Oitughrak, extending from Sarakamish, north of Kunjerab pass to Bazar Dara, north of the Arghil pass". He said it was an area of about 3,000 acres (12 km2).
The Chinese completed the reconquest of Xinjiang in 1878. Before they lost southern parts of the province to Yakub Beg in 1863, their practical authority, as Ney Elias and Younghusband consistently maintained, had never extended south of their outposts at Sanju and Kilian along the northern foothills of the Kun Lun range. Nor did they establish a known presence to the south of the line of outposts in the twelve years immediately following their return. Ney Elias, who had been Joint Commissioner in Ladakh for several years, noted on 21 September 1889 that he had met the Chinese in 1879 and 1880 when he visited Kashgar. “They told me that they considered their line of ‘chatze’, or posts, as their frontier – viz., Kugiar, Kilian, Sanju, Kiria, etc.- and that they had no concern with what lay beyond the mountains” i.e. the Kun Lun range in northern Kashmir.
In March 1899 the British proposed, in a Note from Sir Claude MacDonald to China, a new boundary between China and British India. The Note proposed that China should relinquish its claims to suzerainty over Hunza, and in return Hunza should relinquish its claims to most of the Taghdumbash and Raskam districts. The Chinese did not respond to the Note, and the British took that as acquiescence.
In 1927, the Indian Government, according to a report in the Times, March 6, 1963 “decided that a claim of the Mir of Kashmir that his dominions were bound on the north by the northern watershed of the Kuenlun ranges was insupportable”. Until 1937 the inhabitants of the Taghdumbash Pamir paid tribute to the Mir of Hunza, who exercised control over the pastures,[ and "Mir Silum Khan III materialised his claim by erecting a stone monument in Dafdar and presenting scalps of Kirghiz to the Chinese representatives in Kashgar and Yarkand"