Srinagar: Government authorities imposed restrictions and detained resistance leaders while the people of Kashmir observed a complete shutdown to mark Martyrs’ Day, the date when 22 Kashmiri Muslims were killed by forces of the Hindu Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir in 1931.
Strict restrictions on public movement were imposed across Kashmir and particularly around the Naqshband Sahib shrine in downtown Srinagar where the 22 martyrs of 1931 are buried. The restrictions were also imposed to foil the march to Naqshband Sahib graveyard called by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Yasin Malik.
Congregational Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar were disallowed and Kashmir’s chief priest Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who delivers the Friday sermon at the historic mosque, was arrested after he tried to defy detention orders and march towards the martyrs’ graveyard at Naqshband Sahib.
Speaking to reporters, the Mirwaiz called the 1931 martyrs as the “torch bearers of our struggle for self-determination who set the precedent to stand up to repression and fight for our fundamental right, the right to be masters of our destiny.”
The Mirwaiz said that “tremendous sacrifices of life have been made since July 13, 1931, and lakhs of Kashmiris have been martyred and continue to be killed for the fulfilment of their quest for freedom. Undoubtedly, it is an uphill task that the brave people of the nation have undertaken but to break the yoke of subjugation and achieve freedom is the dream of every nation which is worth all the struggle and sacrifice being offered.”
Reports of a complete shutdown were received from both northern and southern parts of Kashmir. Reports said that all shops and business establishments including tuition centres and private offices remained shut in Baramulla, Sopore, Pattan, Handwara, Kupwara, Trehgam, Bandipora and Hajin areas of north Kashmir while public and private transport was off the roads.
Similar reports were received from the southern districts of Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag, and Pulwama.
In the absence of any elected government in Jammu and Kashmir, Governor NN Vohra was expected to pay homage to the martyrs at Naqshaband Sahib but he skipped the official function organised there. Former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, Director General of Police SP Vaid, and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan were among those who went to put floral wreaths at the martyrs’ graveyard.
The BJP, which was until recently part of the Jammu and Kashmir government, skipped the official martyrs’ day function at Mazar-e-Shoudha, as it has done since 2015, the year it formed the government in alliance with the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP.
Last week, the Jammu High Court Bar Association (JHCBA) also opposed the official holiday declared on Martyrs’ Day. The JHCBA in a statement on July 11 said that observing Martyrs’ Day was tantamount to “rubbing salt on the wounds of the minority community (Hindus) of Kashmir.”
“The observance of July 13 as the so-called Martyrs’ Day by the political structures of the state is tantamount to rubbing salt on the festering wounds of the minority community of Kashmir,” said Prem Sadotra, general secretary of JHCBA.
National Conference (NC) leaders in Jammu paid glowing tributes to the 1931 martyrs at a function held today at Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan Jammu. They pledged to work for strengthening democracy and promoting the spirit of unity and communal amity in Jammu and Kashmir.
NC State Secretary Rattan Lal Gupta said the day symbolises peoples’ urge for democracy and a society based on justice, harmony and equality.
Gupta said that the best way of paying tributes to the 1931 martyrs was to strengthen democracy and secularism in Jammu and Kashmir.