Stress on united defence of Martyrs’ Day, opposition to Hindu right-wing
Srinagar: While the pro-freedom camp has decided there will be no shutdown call on July 13, observed as the day of the martyrs of the 1931 massacre, when 22 Kashmiris were killed by Dogra rulers, it has also planned to hold a joint march from Jamia Masjid to the martyr’s graveyard at Khanqah-i-Naqshband Sahab. The decision by the pro-freedom leadership to jointly observe Martyrs’ Day as Youm-e-Tajdeed (The day of Resolve) is meant to give a ‘befitting reply’ to right-wing Hindu parties who have often rallied against the observance of this day in Kashmir.
A top pro-freedom leader said the joint strategy in this regard was chalked out to send a ‘clear signal’ to right-wing Hindu parties, including the BJP, that the ‘struggle for freedom is still alive as it was in 1931’. “This day is Kashmir’s national day,” a pro-freedom leader said, “by observing it jointly, the pro-freedom leaders want to tell the communal forces that we won’t be cowed down by their threats. Kashmiris will observe Martyrs’ Day at all costs.”
Last month, a joint forum of Kashmiri Pandit Organisations had demanded that the observance of July 13 as Martyrs’ Day should be stopped in J&K and instead October 26 — ‘Accession Day’ — should be celebrated as State Day. Similarly, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has also strongly opposed the commemoration. The party, in fact, claimed that during the 1930s, people from British Intelligence started an anti-India movement along with local Muslims.
Speaking about the joint plans for the day, Hurriyat (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani said, “We (the pro-freedom camp) have decided that we would remain in contact to chalk out a strategy on issues of common concern. The programme on July 13 is part of that united strategy.” He also said the Government of India was a “colonial power” which has “waged war against the people of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region. The local government is an extension of Indian occupation in Kashmir. They are dictators who are encroaching upon the space of pro-freedom groups.” He also said that if the government attempts to foil the pro-freedom groups, the latter would form a joint strategy to deal with such a situation.
Hurriyat (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also said that July 13 marks an important day in Kashmir’s history as it was on this day that Kashmiris rose against the autocratic Dogra Maharaja. “In the given political context, the situation demands that the pro-freedom leadership puts on a united front to contest the challenges posed from different quarters,” the Mirwaiz said. He added that the pro-freedom leadership has announced a joint strategy on that day to “recommit” themselves to the freedom movement.
Mirwaiz, while detailing the programme, said he along with senior pro-freedom leaders including Hurriyat (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and JKLF Chairman Mohamamd Yasin Malik will offer noon (Zuhar) prayers at Jamia Masjid on July 13, and thereafter lead a procession towards Mazar-e-Shuhada Naqshband Sahab to observe Youm-e-Tajdeed.
“At Naqshband Sahab, the leaders along with people will offer joint prayers for the July 13 martyrs following which the pro-freedom leadership would address the gathering. The leaders along with the people will pay rich tributes to the July 13 martyrs and all the martyrs of Kashmir and reiterate their firm resolve to take the freedom struggle to its logical conclusion,” he added.
Hurriyat (M) said that in view of the holy month of Ramadan, the pro-freedom leadership decided not to call for a strike on July 13, while appealing people to turn towards Jamia Masjid before noon prayers to pay tributes to the martyrs of Kashmir.
“It is a good step. It would also help us come closer steadily in the future,” JKLF Chairman Yasin Malik said, iterating that consultation among the pro-freedom leadership to chalk out programmes concerning burning issues was a healthy sign. Malik also took a dig at right-wing Hindu parties for their opposition to July 13 Martyrs Day. “I think we have to teach Kashmir history to communal parties like Panun Kashmir once again. 13 July, 1931 movement is an important day in Kashmir’s history. This was the day when Kashmir rose against the Dogra Maharaja and started a peaceful political resistance movement to get freedom. This day will be, and is, remembered as a turning point in the history of Kashmir,” he said.
The consensus to form a joint strategy on issues began with the killings in Sopore last month. Also, on June 27, both the Hurriyats and JKLF supported a strike call to protest the ‘desecration’ of Jamia Masjid in Srinagar.