Resolution asking govt to make Hari Singh’s birthday holiday passed in Upper House; they have no idea of what they are doing, says Sagar
Jammu/Srinagar: The legislative council on Tuesday passed a resolution asking the government to declare the birthday of Jammu and Kashmir’s last Dogra ruler, Hari Singh as state holiday.
The resolution moved by BJP member and Hari Singh’s grandson Ajat Shatru Singh, sought acknowledgement of contributions of his grandfather.
The resolution was passed with a voice vote. Although, government spokesperson and education minister Naeem Akhtar opposed the resolution and requested Ajat to withdraw it, the resolution was passed.
BJP supported the move while PDP’s two members Khursheed Alam and Saifudin Bhat opposed it.
The resolution was seconded by Vikramaditya Singh, another grandson of Hari Singh.
National Conference and Congress members were not present in the House.
“This House resolves September 23 the birthday of Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Maharaja of the state, be declared as state holiday as a mark of respect for him,” Singh said.
Ajatshatru and BJP member Ashok Khajuria declared the Dogra ruler as an “unbiased ruler” who always “accorded value to the justice system and eradicated discrimination from the society.”
PDP member Firdous Tak termed Hari Singh as a “visionary” and lauded him for his contribution in health, education, social sector. He credited him for setting up of Jammu’s SMGS Hospital and construction of Srinagar-Jammu highway.
Dogra rule is perceived by the majority Muslim community, especially in the valley, as the most brutal and exploitative in history. In fact, 13 July 1931, the day Hari Singh’s soldiers killed 21 Kashmiris outside Srinagar Central Jail, is a state holiday in the state and observed as Martyrs’ Day.
Masks are being unmasked, says Mirwaiz
In yet another indication that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is calling the shots in the coalition with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), members of the Legislative Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution to mark the birth anniversary of Maharaja Hari Singh, the last Dogra king of Jammu and Kashmir who signed the Instrument of Accession with India, as an official holiday.
The resolution received support from all BJP and PDP legislators, except two PDP legislators, Khursheed Alam and Saifudin Bhat, who abstained.
PDP chief spokesman Mehboob Beg refused to talk on the subject while the opposition National Conference (NC) made a guarded statement that the government “has no idea what it was doing.”
National Conference general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said the resolution indicates “divergent ideologies of the government.”
“They are celebrating the birthday of an autocrat, and also observing the martyrdom anniversary of the July 13, 1931 victims,” he said, adding, “This shows the contradiction.”
He said the Legislative Council may have adopted the resolution but the NC does not agree with it. “We never announced a holiday to celebrate Maharaja Hari Singh’s birthday,” he said.
Though Sagar neither condemned nor endorsed the resolution, he said Maharaja was responsible for “sufferings of Kashmiris.”
As many as 22 persons were killed by the forces of Maharaja Hari Singh on July 13, 1931, when they held a protest outside Srinagar Central Jail. Regarded as the first public protest to end the rule of the Dogra kings, July 13 is commemorated by both the pro-Indian and pro-freedom parties as Martyrs’ Day. It is an official holiday. The BJP has all along observed July 13 as black day, while also eulogising the glory of Dogra rule in Kashmir.
Chairman of Awami Itehad Party, Engineer Rashid said that the government should decide who was correct, Maharaja Hari Singh or Sheikh Abdullah. “There is a contradiction. I condemn the adoption of the resolution in the Legislative Council. It is a conspiracy against Kashmiris who fought against the Maharaja in 1931 and sacrificed their lives,” Rashid said.
“By adopting this resolution, the government is demonising Kashmiris and giving a communal colour to their regime,” he added.
He said that if the government believes that the Maharaja was good, “then Shekih sahib was a traitor.”
“They should remove his (Sheikh’s) name from Kashmir’s history,” Rashid added.
Ashok Kaul, state general secretary of BJP, said that the adoption of the resolution will add one more holiday to the calendar. “What is the problem in observing a holiday on Maharaja’s birthday?” Koul asked. When asked why the state will also observe July 13 as martyrs’ day, since the perpetrator of their killings was the Maharaja, he said, “It is good that the state should observe both the occasions.”
APHC chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that the PDP has given in to the BJP on sensitive issues. “This resolution by the upper house is indication that the PDP has surrendered before the BJP,” Mirwaiz said.
“Kashmiris fought against the autocratic Maharaja. Now either the autocratic ruler is right or the much eulogised fight of Sheikh Abdullah against him. But then, after 1947, even Sheikh did the same that the Maharaja was doing before 1947: subjecting Kashmiris to injustices and sufferings,” Mirwaiz said.
“The pro-Indian parties always honoured July 13 as Martyrs’ Day to cover up their deeds. But now they are getting exposed. They used to sell democracy and bright future within the Indian framework, but such actions only reveal that they were lying all along. The masks are being unmasked,” Mirwaiz said.
(With inputs from Nouman Shah)