Every year, Kashmir Martyrs’ Day (Youme Shudaha-e-Kashmir) is commemorated on July 13 in the memory of 21 Kashmiris who were martyred outside Srinagar Central Jail by the troops of Dogra Maharaja on July 13, 1931. This very day is observed on both sides of the Line of Control and all over the world by the Kashmiris to pay homage to these Kashmiris.
However, the history of Dogra rule (1846-1947) in Kashmir is replete with tyrannous treatment, meted out to the Kashmiri Muslims by Dogra forces. Under the Dogra rule, they were leading so miserable life that it was difficult to differentiate them from beasts. Slave labour, heavy taxes, capital punishment for cow slaughter, and living under constant terror was the order of the day.
On April 19, 1931, the ban of Eid Khutba (Sermon) ignited widespread demonstrations in the Jammu city for a number of days. It was followed by the desecration of the Holy Quran at the hands of Dogra forces, which resulted in outrage among the Muslims throughout the state. In Srinagar, people gathered in Jamia Masjid to denounce this blasphemy. One such get-together was held in Khankah-e-Muella Srinagar, which was addressed by prominent Kashmiris. When the meeting was concluded, a youth, Abdul Qadeer, pointing his finger to the Maharaja’s palace, raised slogans “destroy its every brick.” With the accusation of sedition, he was arrested forthwith. Abdul Qadir was to be tried in the court, but due to large public resentment, the court was shifted to Central Jail Srinagar.
On July 12, 1931, in response to the shifting of court, intense public protests were held throughout the city. The next day, on July 13, 1931, thousands of people thronged the Central Jail Srinagar to witness the in-camera trial of Abdul Qadeer. As the time for obligatory prayer approached, a young Kashmiri stood for Azan. The Dogra Governor, Ray Zada Tartilok Chand ordered soldiers to open fire at him. When he got martyred, another young man took his place and started Azan. He was also shot dead. In this way, 21 Kashmiris embraced martyrdom in their efforts to complete the Azan. The people carried the dead and paraded through the streets of Srinagar, chanting slogans against Dogra brutalities. A complete strike was observed in the city, which was followed by weeklong mourning. This incident shook the whole state and the traffic from Srinagar to Rawalpindi and Srinagar to Jammu came to halt from July 13 to 26, 1931. The 21 martyrs are buried in Martyrs’ Graveyard at Khawaja Bazar, Srinagar.
Consequent to these brutal killings, the Kashmiri leadership realized the need to form a political party, Muslim Conference (MC) with a view to waging a struggle for their freedom. Afterward, on July 19, 1947, MC passed a resolution to merge Kashmir with Pakistan, considering the geographical proximity—the majority of Muslim population (77%), language and cultural relations of Jammu and Kashmir.
Since 1989, various forms of state terrorism have been part of a deliberate campaign by the Indian army and paramilitary forces against Muslim Kashmiris. It has been manifested in brutal tactics like crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounters.
When Indian fanatic Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of the ruling party BJP, came to power, he accelerated anti-Kashmir moves. Since August 5, 2019 Modi’s government ended the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir to turn Muslim majority into a minority in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Implementing the August 5 announcement, the Indian central government issued a notorious map on October 31, 2019. In accordance with it, Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two union territories—Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Besides, Indian other malevolent acts such as the introduction of new domicile law against the majority of Kashmiris, issuance of domicile certificates to 25000 non-Kashmiris and intermittent shelling inside Pakistani side of Kashmir in relation to the Line of Control (LoC)-which has killed hundreds of innocent villagers, indicate ‘Modi’s fascist India’. Thus, New Delhi completely ended any sort of dialogue with Islamabad to settle the Kashmir issue.
Now, more than 11 months have passed. But, Indian extremist rulers continue lockdown in the IOK where Indian forces have broken all previous records of gross human rights abuses by martyring tens of thousands of the Kashmiris through brutal tactics.
Despite the deployment of 900,000 troops in the IOK and intensification of firing by the Indian forces in wake of shortage of foods, medicines for the patients and coronavirus pandemic, innocent Kashmiris are still violating the lockdown by protesting against Indian illegal actions. In order to conceal India’s state terrorism, Kashmir has been cut off from the rest of the world. But, some reports and images are appearing in the world and the social media, which show extrajudicial killings of innocent people by the ruthless Indian military and paramilitary troopers.
In this connection, the martyrdom of a 65 years old person Bashir Ahmed Khan on July 1, this year who was dragged out of his car and shot dead by Indian paramilitary troopers in front of his grandson-three-year-old toddler in Sopore, Srinagar, shocked the world. The horrifying event triggered massive outrage and protests in Indian Kashmir.
Ironically, despite a lapse of 72 years, Kashmiris are still struggling and sacrificing to achieve their alienable right under the UN resolutions for the plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir.
While, Indian forces have been also employing various draconian like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the Public Safety Act (PSA), etc. in killing the Kashmiri people, and arbitrarily arrest of any individual for an indefinite period. Besides Human Rights Watch, in its various reports, Amnesty International has also pointed out grave human rights violations in the Indian Controlled Kashmir.
Nevertheless, the Martyrs’ Day has given a new impetus to the Kashmir’s struggle for independence.
Observing the Youme Shuhada-e-Kashmir on July 13 all over the world, Kashmiris renew their pledge to continue the ongoing war of liberation for the accomplishment of their right of self-determination and for the independence of Kashmir from the despotic Indian rulers who continue state terrorism in the Indian Held Kashmir like the Dogra rulers. In these terms, Martyrs’ Day continues in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations