DOST KHAN / ANCHOR
With Kashmir based mainstream parties, including the Congress, remembering ‘the 1931 martyrs’ on the eve of Martyrs’ Day by way of prototype messages, their extensions in Jammu are maintaining stoic silence. Why so much of indifference here? Don’t they subscribe to what their masters back in the Valley stand for? By and large these political outfits take pride in invoking Maharaja Hari Singh while defending Article 35A related to state subject laws but they show no mercy in virtually condemning, what they call, ‘autocratic and oppressive’ rule of the Maharaja. The people of Jammu as also the old-times in the Valley cherish the Maharaja’s Rule as a golden era of this State. They still feel nostalgic about those good autocratic old days and curse the modern despots, who gave them nothing but perpetual suppression and subjugation. Traditionally, the people of Jammu take pride in their past and love their heritage more than anything else. Duggarland is known for its ethos and glorious traditions, which they may never like or allow to be delinked with the era of Maharajas. With so much of admiration for their former rulers, they have never felt comfortable with Kashmir centric masters enforcing something which they feel hitting the core of Jammu ethos. The reason why Jammu does not subscribe to Martyrs Day is that on this day in 1931, thousands of people had stormed the Central Jail surroundings where the ‘hero’ of the massive protest demonstrators at Khankah-e-Muella Srinagar, Abdul Qadeer was being tried for pointing towards the Maharaja’s Palace and raising slogans “destroy its every brick”. This incident is being termed by PoK based Syed Salah-ud-Din as the beginning of Kashmir’s freedom movement when 22 youth were killed by Dogra rulers. Of late, this day has assumed wider dimensions with the Kashmiri separatists remaining in the forefront to pay tributes to the martyrs, not only of 1931 but who have ‘sacrificed’ their lives till date for the so-called freedom struggle of Kashmir. For them the 1931 sacrifices were not against the autocratic rule or fighting for the peoples’ rule, say democracy, in Jammu and Kashmir but it was the beginning of the so-called freedom movement for seeking ‘liberation from the clutches of foreign occupation’. How they perceive the martyr’s day is reflected from the theme being disseminated by the All Party’s Hurriyat Conference, ‘Azad’ Kashmir, saying, “As many as 22 Kashmiris sacrificed their lives for the supreme cause of freedom for Kashmir from the foreign occupation on this particular day. There are different versions on what happened on 13th July in Kashmir but the central point remains generally the same as has been put in by a Kashmiri centric author in a write up, which reads: “In Srinagar, people gathered in Jamia Masjid to denounce this incident. One such get-together was held in Khankah-e-Muella Srinagar, which was addressed by prominent Kashmiris. When the meeting 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, 22 Kashmiris were killed in their efforts to complete the Azan. The people carried the dead and paraded through the streets of Srinagar, chanting slogans against Dogra brutalities”. Interestingly, 13th July is also being observed by Kashmiri Hindus (as also those belonging to Muzaffarabad, Punjab and Jammu) as Black Day because of their belief that this day in 1931 marks the beginning of the first organized genocide of Hindus in Kashmir. The survivors are on record having documented the horror tales of this day in village Kanikote in Budgam, Maharajganj and Vicharnag in Srinagar allegedly by the volunteers. It is all a question of perception and, may be, a matter of political expediency.
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