BJP, Sajad Lone skip customary visit

SRINAGAR: After questioning whether the 22 Kashmiris massacred by the last Dogra Maharaja’s army on July 13, 1931 were martyrs, Bharatiya Janata Party ministers and members skipped the customary visit to the Martyrs Graveyard at Naqashband Sahib shrine.
Peoples Conference chief and minister of Science and Technology and Animal Husbandry Sajad Lone, who is affiliated with the saffron party, also did not visit the place.
Traditionally, the chief minister and his ministers pay floral tributes to the martyrs on the day, a rare occasion when pro-freedom and pro-India groups are on the same page. It is a public holiday in the state.
According to a BJP leader, the entire team of BJP ministers and legislators were in New Delhi for a daylong party and didn’t attend the official event at the graveyard.
A cabinet minister from the BJP Sukhnandan Kumar said he was not aware of any “Martyrs Day because I have taken birth in independent India”.
“Kashmiris know about it. We know nothing about it. What do we have to do with it (day). Kal kisi ki shaadi hogi ya janamdin hoga, kya muje wahan bhi jana hain,” Kumar said.
The PDP, however, took a dig at its alliance partner for skipping the official event, saying the martyrs belonged to the state and their sacrifices should not be forgotten.
“It was an obligation to attend the official function and the ministers ought to have fulfilled it and any deviation from such a precedent was inappropriate,” said PDP spokesman Dr Mehboob Beg.
He said, “We salute these martyrs because we feel indebted and grateful to them.”