JAMMU: This Martyrs’ Day, Mehbooba Mufti wants the people of Jammu and Kashmir to take a pledge to protect and safeguard the honour and dignity of the State at all costs and not let tyranny and suppression resurface in any form. We don’t know how Maharaja Kunwar Ajatshatru Singh, MLC of the BJP and Maharaja Vikramaditya Singh, MLC of the PDP will take the compliment of their Chief Minister about their grand-father’s regime to be an era of tyranny and suppression but the people of Jammu and a segment of Kashmiris certainly take strong exception to such comments by the National Conference, Congress, PDP and other Valley centric political outfits on this day every year. They still consider the era of the Maharaja as a golden chapter of Jammu and Kashmir when the people of the State lived with a sense of pride. NC and the PDP have been gloating that the people threw out the dynasts, forgetting that they turned worse type of dynasts themselves. The fast vanishing generations 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, to the extent of obsession, for their rulers, they have never felt comfortable with Kashmir centric masters enforcing something which they feel hitting the core of their ethos.
Like other two regions of Kashmir and Ladakh, Jammu too is holidaying today, the 13th July, to commemorate Martyrs’ Day. However, unlike Kashmir, there is no voluntary initiative to organize ‘homage functions’ except in the party headquarters of the Kashmir centric ruling PDP and NC. On the contrary, Kashmir is virtually under siege, as both the mainstream and separatist outfits are in mad race to score points by remaining front runners in paying homage to the ‘martyrs’.
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 Srinagar 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 Sallah-ud-Din as the beginning of “Kashmir’s freedom movement when 22 youth were killed by Dogra rulers.” Another secessionist Shabir Ahmed Shah vows to “keep alive the spirit of freedom movement by organizing programmes in memories of martyrs.” He says July 13, 1931 was the point of inception for Kashmir’s resistance movement and the struggle is yet to reach its logical conclusion. So, he vouches for observing this day till Jammu and Kashmir is separated from Indian domain. Syed Ali Shah Geelani says the ‘mission of the 1931 martyrs’ will not be allowed to be ditched’. Mirwaiz Umar terms the July 13 as black day in the history of Kashmir, saying this day Kashmiris rose against the despotic dynastic rule of Maharaja who showered bullets and killed Kashmiris.
This being the significance of Martyrs’ Day for chronic anti-India secessionists, they have resolved to commemorate this day jointly to ‘invoke the attention of the world against subjugation’. Their threat has forced the Kashmir centric government to convert Srinagar into a fortress. The secessionists want to fulfill the mission of martyrs, which according to them is to delink Jammu and Kashmir from India. As usual, they started mobilization of support in commemoration of the Martyrs Day by demonizing Dogra Army. By condemning the autocratic rule, they are spilling venom against the Maharaja’s Rule, which still makes Duggerland proud.
Anti-India and anti-Maharaja sentiment being the importance of this day for secessionists, the case with Kashmir mainstream is no different. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah describes the martyrs of July 13, 1931 as timeless and inspirational heroes in ‘struggle against suppression, tyranny and autocracy’. This is a harsh reflection of the Maharaja’s rule, inspired by distorted facts. The Kashmir centric leaders describe 13 July 1931 ‘martyrs’ as brave heroes who laid down their lives against suppression and autocracy. This too is condemnation of the rule of Maharaja and glorification of the people, whom terror and secessionist outfits considers as the pioneers of ‘freeing Jammu and Kashmir from India’.
Ironically, the Martyrs Day is being observed as Black Day by minorities comprising displaced Kashmiri Hindus and the Hindus of Punjab and Muzaffarabad, settled in Kashmir during that period of time, as they construe this day as beginning of the first organized genocide of minority community in Kashmir. The survivors and witnesses of the 1931 massacre keep narrating the horror tales of this day in village Kanikote in Budgam, Maharajganj and Vicharnag in Srinagar.
In backdrop of the assertions being made by separatists and Kashmir mainstream, the Jammu based leaders of the Congress, National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party need to ponder whether they too subscribe to the perception of Geelani, Mirwaiz, Shabir Shah and others on Martyrs Day. By condemning autocracy (the Maharaja’s Rule), as the mainstream parties of the Valley have been doing since decades, their Jammu based leaders should think are they ridiculing their own heritage. Holding of commemorative meetings will be a sign of endorsement, unfortunately.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper