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A Minority within the Minorities

While the ethnicity question in the national census since 1991 has highlighted various aspects of the lives of different ethnic minorities across Britain and informed policy and service provision to become more relevant and affective, there are communities across Britain that remain unknown and unseen.

Researching British Kashmiris

One such community is the British Kashmiri community. Although some local authorities have responded to the specific needs and demands by the local community to include a distinct category in their local ethnic monitoring systems, data about their representation and access to and engagement with services remains scarce.

At the same time this community has increasingly been seen in local and national media as associated with certain crimes and problems.

However, without any statistical tools available to measure the scale and nature of the issues and challenges this community faces, it is difficult to develop policies and improve services.

In this context Rochdale Borough Council (RBC) and The University of Manchester have initiated a pioneering research project, funded by RBC and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to explore the social, economic and cultural needs of the Kashmiri community.

The aim of which is to develop a methodology to reach out and explore Kashmiri community in Rochdale with a view to apply the findings to other councils across Britain with a sizeable Kashmiri population.

The research involves a ward level census data collection on Kashmiris from various services and gaining qualitative data from community through focus groups and in depth one to one interviews with community representatives.

Research team

  • Dr VS Kalra, Principle Investigator
  • Shams Rehman, Research Assistant
  • Dr Martin Hyde, Q-Step Lecturer
  • Rashida Begum, PhD student
  • Cllr Daalat Ali RBC
  • Cllr J Emsley

Further reading

Books, papers and discussions related to the project.

From Textile Mills to Taxi Ranks - Dr VS Kalra

It is a study of textile workers in Oldham majority of whom originate from (azad) Kashmir, the Pakistani controlled part of the divided state of Jammu Kashmir. The book offers a detailed story and analysis of migration, settlement and work of the textile worker and what routes and strategies they adopted for survival and employment following the demise of the textile industry in Oldham.

Missing from the ‘minority mainstream’: Pahari-speaking diaspora in Britain - Dr Serena Hussain

Pahari is the mother tongue of 99% of nearly a million British Kashmiris originating from (azad) Kashmir, the Pakistani controlled area of the divided state of Jammu Kashmir. The remaining 1% speaks Koshur or Kashiri as their mother tongue. 

British Pakistani/Kashmiri Youth Visiting Kin in Pakistan and Kashmir - Gill Cressey

This book explores the relationships of thirty young people with their ancestral homeland, of Pakistan or Kashmir, and with British urban life. It does so using narratives from young people about their journeys from Birmingham in Britain to visit kin in villages in rural Pakistan and Kashmir. Its particular usefulness is the critique that its empirical data raises of 'conventional wisdom' of some governments, media, academic theorists and public bodies about Muslim Minorities.

Diasporic Communities and Identity Formation - Zafar Khan

This paper discusses Kashmiris in Britain whose political and social mobilisation provides an important basis for looking at the formation and maintenance of collective identity. The post-colonial period in particular has raised a number of questions on identity and ethnicity in relation to the Kashmiris, because, unlike most other South Asians, Kashmiris in Britain have had to forcefully assert their identity and communal persona, or, alternatively, their collective and national identity.

Views, Voices and Visibility - Nicola Davies

A very valuable case study by RAISE project which offer some insight into the issues facing Kashmiri and Pakistani pupils and parents in Slough Local Education Authority (LEA). While the existence of Kashmir community is recognised, category used for them in ethnic monitoring system is ‘Kashmiri Pakistani’ which of little use for comparative analysis to see any patterns of disparities between Pakistani and Kashmiri pupils.

Seeking and Responding - Shazia Azhar and Jo Pilling

Another useful case study by RAISE project which offer some insight into the issues facing Kashmiri and Pakistani pupils and parents in the area of education. While the existence of a Kashmir community who speak Pahari language is recognised, category used for them in ethnic monitoring system is ‘Kashmiri Pakistani’ which of little value for comparative analysis to see any patterns of disparities between Pakistani and Kashmiri pupils.

Recognising the Kashmiri Community in the UK: Implications for Education Attainment - Daalat Ali

There is ample evidence that the prevailing lack of inclusion in ethnic monitoring of Kashmiri identity and language has serious implications for provision of public services in Britain. However, the demands for recognition and inclusion evoke the political status and history of Kashmir in South Asia causing exclusion and marginalisation of a million strong Kashmiris in towns and cities across Britain. Daalat Ali discusses the implications of this situation for education attainment. 

Census (Kashmiri Ethnic Representation) in the House of Commons - Simon Danczuk MP

Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale reports on an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on 3rd March 2014.

British Kashmiris: migration and formation of a transnational diaspora - Shams Rehman

This paper explores the history and formation of Kashmiris diaspora in Britain from the earliest links of Britain with Kashmir and the subsequent migration from Kashmir to present day transnational linkages not only of Kashmiris 'here' and 'there' but also of some British institutions. 

  • British Kashmiris: migration and formation of a transnational diaspora

Unlocking Potential of the Kashmiri Diaspora in the ‘Big’ Society - Sardar Aftab Khan

This paper will identify the common bonds of identity and traditions of those people in UK whose ethnic heritage comes from the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The paper will further look at the impact of the non-recognition and non-inclusion of the Kashmiri community in British ethnic monitoring systems at the national level and ask how this will influence their social mobility.

How South Asians achieve education - Tahir Abbas

This research is an attempt to understand wider variations of difference in the educational achievement of South Asians. The research is unique as it explores differences between Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani groups, additionally distinguished along lines of social class, ethnicity and gender. Six schools, three of which were selective and three comprehensive, and three further education colleges, were used to obtain samples of South Asian pupils and students. The methods used in this study were principally qualitative. Face-to-face in-depth interviews with school pupils, parents and teachers accounted for the main part of the empirical research, which was also supplemented by a survey of college students and a survey of teachers.

The research explored the achievements, aspirations and motivations of pupils, students and parents to analyse educational life histories, interpreting and evaluating differences between South Asian groups by social class, ethnicity and gender, as well as religion and culture. 

Online Papers on South Asians in Britain - various authors

The collection of papers set out on this site provide authoritative information on the social, cultural and religious characteristics of Britain's South Asian minority populations, whether they be Indian, Pakistani or Bangladesh, or indeed Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh.

Prepared by academic specialists, the material on this site is mostly written from and 'applied' perspective. Its contents should therefore be no less relevant to a wide range of professional practitioners than they are for those with more specifically academic interests.

The UK law on terrorism and the British Muslim Kashmiri communities - Sattar-Shafiq and Kaniz Iqbal

The objective of this thesis is to analyse how, if at all terrorism and counter terrorism has affected British Muslims both according to law and according to their perceptions. The study focuses on a sample of British Kashmiri Muslims and seeks their perceptions of terrorism and the British counter terrorism policies and legislation.

Research on Kashmiri Inclusion in the National Census 2011 - Office of National Census

It has been suggested that Kashmiris are an ethnic group experiencing social exclusion and economic disadvantage, and that the difficulty of identifying Kashmiris has meant that their needs are often overlooked. In most official surveys like the census, it is believed that they largely report their ethnic group as Pakistani. The case for a Kashmiri tick-box scored highly in the prioritisation exercise1 but the group did not score as highly as other ethnic groups and when initial recommendations were made. 

Dear Birmingham, A conversation with my Home Town - Karamat Iqbal

Note by the author

'Pakistani'-Birmingham - a question of definition In Birmingham, it has been stated (Abbas 2005) that some three-quarters of the 'Pakistani' community are actually from Kashmir, from the District Mirpur. However, when recording and reporting the community, the label 'Pakistani' is (wrongly) utilised by policy makers, social scientists and others (writers).

This was how I came to speak of the 'Pakistani' community when writing my book, 'Dear Birmingham', which is about their exclusion from centres of power and opportunities. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, it is due to the reliance on the UK census categories which do not include the 'Kashmiri'. Secondly, it is due to the administrative and political control of this part of Kashmir by Pakistan, one significant demonstration of which is the citizens concerned are required to travel on Pakistani passports.

Therefore, given this (mis) definition of the largest of Birmingham's ethnic minorities, misunderstandings continuously arise as to who is being spoken of. It is necessary to acknowledge that when one is speaking of social exclusion, educational under achievement or an array of other issues and problems within the 'Pakistani' community of Birmingham, one is in reality referring to the Kashmiri community. 

Manchester City Council Resolution for Kashmiri Inclusion - Manchester City Council

Text of the resolution on Kashmiri Inclusion Carried by the Manchester City Council on 1st April 2015 (Item CC/15/28).