By Fida Hussain Sodagar
On 13 July 1931, twenty two innocent Kashmiri’s fell victim to the bullets of Dogra soldiers under Maharaja Hari Singh’s rule outside the Central jail in Srinagar. The bullets pierced not only pierced the bodies of Kashmiri’s, but the day sowed the seeds of resistance and struggle against the autocratic Dogra rule. It was an open challenge to the system of tyranny and subjugation. The 22 martyrs were laid to rest in the premises of the revered shrine of Hazrat Khawja Naqshband Sahab (RA) at Khajwabazar in downtown. The graveyard is popularly known as Martyrs’ Graveyard.
Maharaja Hari Singh occupied the throne of Jammu and Kashmir in the year 1925. He was an autocratic ruler who subjected Kashmiri Muslims to forced labor. The history of Dogra rule in Kashmir issuffused with brutal treatment, meted out to the Kashmiri Muslims by Dogra forces. Under this atrocious rule, Kashmiri Muslim’s were living a wretched life. Slave labour, heavy taxes, capital punishment for cow slaughter were some of the orders enforced on Kashmiri Muslims. Yousaf Saraf in his book, “Kashmiri’s Fight for Freedom” calls it “free forced labour” and “instead of donkeys and horses, Kashmiri Muslims were used for transportation of goods across the far-flung areas”.
It is now 13 July 2018. Kashmiri’s continued to fell prey to bullets. The number of Martyr’s blossoms and flourishes every year. Graveyards are being incessantly filled with the shattered bodies of these Martyr’s. All this has torn apart the souls of Kashmiri’s. The blood of Kashmiri’s is being spilled everyday in the streets and lanes. Everyday there is a Martyr’s Day in Kashmir. Nevertheless, the remembrance of Martyrs’ Day, every year is testimony to the fact of Kashmiris’ resilience.
The Martyr’s day generated a strong wave of the Kashmir’s struggle for independence against Dogra rule. July 13, 1931 is not simply a day of observance but a day which marks the design of freedom from subjugation, enslavement and tyranny with the hope and aspiration that a dawn of peace will shine to relieve the bruised souls of Kashmir.
The author holds a P.G in Mass Communication and Journalism and writes on various issues. He can be reached at: [email protected]