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Challenging Martyr’s Day

3 mins read

Asem Mohiuddin

On 13 July, the Jammu and Kashmir administration denied the permission to all the regional political parties to pay their visit at the martyr’s graveyard.  The decision of the Manoj Sinha administration left the region’s political parties, especially Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference furious who related the BJP regime with Pharoan.

Reacting to the ban on Kashmir Martyr’s Day, Dr Farooq Abdullah said that Pahoran has been one of the most tyrant kings in Human history. He inflicted unbearable pain and tyranny on his own people. But Allah was there ultimately and we all know what happened at last,” he told reporters and said that we are living in slavery and things could get worse for slaves in future.

As if it was not enough, the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti also echoed the strong voice against the ban on Marty’s day by the BJP regime. She said that the cruel rule of Pharoan neither lived in the past nor is going to lie now. “We will fight it and win against the tyrant and atrocious BJP regime though we have been facing the worst ever time since Independence in 1947,” she told her party workers.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the Martyr’s Day was observed every year on July 13 from 1931 when 21 Muslims fell to the bullets of Dogra rulers at Central Jail Srinagar. In the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, it was officially declared a holiday and the serving chief minister and other politicians would visit the graveyard to pay their respect. The official custom continued till 2018 when the then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti paid obeisance at the graveyard but its main coalition partner BJP refused to join.

 Hence, the controversy was born. In 2019 when the Union Government scrapped provisions of Article 370 and bifurcated the erstwhile state into two union territories, Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, the custom was also officially made in-operational. Later the UT government scrapped the holiday on 13 July from the official gazette.

On the other hand, the Dogra community in Jammu province pitched their demand for the holiday on the birth anniversary of Maharaja Hari Singh. They believe in Kashmir some politicians forced him to flee to topple his rule and he deserves all the respect for running the affairs of erstwhile princely state.

The UT administration has already set up a commission to find out whether the holiday on his birth anniversary shall be declared in the Jammu Kashmir official gazette.

Let’s briefly discuss what happened on 13 July 1931 and how the BJP is challenging the dominant narrative that survived for 90 years in Jammu Kashmir.

The historians write that Abdul Qadeer who was an employee of an English army officer in Peshawar and was spending his summer vacations in Kashmir once made a fiery speech against the Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh in historic Jamia masjid Srinagar.  Following his speech, the dogra police arrested him and he was charged with severe offences of provoking people against the ruler and anti national activities.

On 13, July, the hearing on his case was scheduled at the central jail Srinagar where over 5000 people are said to have stormed and tried to enter the jail premises. However, the police tried to stop the angry protesters but failed to manage the massive crowds.

The judge who was hearing the case of Abdul Qadeer eventually sought the help of his lawyer and the crowd dispersed off peacefully.

 In the afternoon, the crowd again reached the spot and tried to offer the congregational afternoon prayers. As one of the protesters began to recite the Adhan, he was shot dead followed by yet another person who tried to replace the first one. It is written that following the killing of two persons, the Dogra police fired upon people indiscriminately which resulted into the killing of 21 Kashmiris. From then till 2018 the day was observed as Kashmir Marty’s Day.

BJP Narrative

The first time controversy erupted over the day was in 2018 when BJP, main ally of PDP government refused to join the Martyr’s day and pay obeisance at graveyard.  In 2019, the BJP government scrapped the provisions of Article 370 and also scrapped the holiday from the official gazette on 13 July.

Though the move triggered sharp criticism but BJP led government believed that the decision had been taken in the larger interests of people and to rectify all the false narratives.

The BJP believes that the narrative was set in Kashmir by the political leaders to topple the Dogra rule and pave the way for their own political careers. According to the BJP, the hearing over the case of Abdul Qadeer was set at central jail, so people rumoured outside that Abdul Qadeer is being hanged. This triggered massive protests and thousands of people tried to storm inside the jail premises. The Dogra police fired in self defense which resulted in the killing of protesting civilians. They believe that it was for the first time when the stone pelting in Kashmir politics began.

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