- The suffering goes back at least to 1930
Kashmiris on both sides of the divide and the Kashmiri diaspora around the world observed Kashmir Martyrs Day on 13 May in commemoration of a gory incident in 1931 on the same day, when 22 Kashmiris were martyred while they were agitating against the injustices perpetrated on them and the arrest of a young man who dared to speak against the oppressive regime. The observance of the day was a stark reminder to the world community that the people of Kashmir were not only suffering at the hands of the Indian rulers after Partition of the Subcontinent but their plight also had roots in the history which needed their immediate intervention to end the inhuman treatment being meted out to them as well as granting them their right of self-determination.
The State of Kashmir, with a majority Muslim population, was ruled by the Dogra Dynasty of Hindu Rajputs from 1846 to 1947. The Dogras treated their Muslim subjects badly and even interfered in their religious affairs. There was wide-spread discontent and resentment against the oppressive governance which kept simmering underneath.
Perhaps it would be pertinent to narrate a brief background to this agitation for the benefit of the readers to enable them to understand the issue in its true perspective. The agitation occurred as a result of a sequence of incidents. In the first instance, a leading land-holder of Udhampur of Jummu converted to Islam. The Hindu registrar (Tehsildar) issued a fresh mutation of his lands, eliminated his name and mutated the same in the name of his brother. The landlord filed a suit that was dismissed with the remarks that unless he re-entered the Hindu faith, he was not entitled to any property. This was done in accordance with a decree issued by the Dogra Government on 31 December 1882. A protest rally was organized against this ban.
The crowd marched to the city’s main Masjid (mosque) where a brief meeting was held condemning the incident. The Muslims felt deeply hurt, politically suppressed and economically strangulated. The interference in their religious matters aroused deep hatred against the rulers and protest meetings became quite frequent. They also brought a complaint in the court of the Additional District Magistrate under section 296 of the Ranbir Penal Code against the Hindu inspector for disturbing a religious assembly, which was dismissed because the Hindu Magistrate held that Khutba (sermon) was not a part of the prayer. Yet another incident which further infuriated the Muslims was desecration of the Holy Quran. Reportedly some pages of the Holy Book were found in the public toilet. It badly hurt the Muslims, prompting them to hold a big protest rally.
Regrettably the world and the UN remain oblivious to the sufferings of the people of Kashmir. One really wonders for how long the people of Kashmir will have to suffer and endure the ongoing ordeal? Indian oppression in Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and its defiance of the UNSC resolutions on the subject is indeed an affront to the conscience of the global community. How long it can afford to be indifferent remains to be seen. However it is clear that the people of Kashmir are determined to win their right to self-determination, no matter how many more sacrifices they might have to render
On 13 July 1931, a sizeable Muslim crowd was agitating against arrest of Abdul Qadeer outside the Srinagar Central Jail. According to recorded evidence, the police fired 160 rounds into the crowd, killing 17 people on the spot while another five died later in the hospital. A Hindu writer, Prem Nath Bazz in his work Inside Kashmir, published in 1941, wrote, “The driving force behind the mass agitation till the 13th July was the discontent among the rank and file of the Muslims. The attack on the jail was in no way directed against the Hindus, and those who laid down their lives at the jail gate did so fighting against an unsympathetic government… It was a fight of the tyrannized against their tyrants, of the oppressed against the oppressors.”
Since 13 July 1931, the people of Kashmir observe Youme-Shuhada-Kashmir (Kashmir Martyrs Day) every year. The incident marked the beginning of the modern-era Kashmir freedom struggle which has traversed through different phases including civilian protests, political struggle and armed struggle.
Unfortunately, the plight of the people of Kashmir did not end with the Partition of the Subcontinent. The princely states under the Independence Act were allowed to accede to any of the two newly created states of India and Pakistan, keeping in view the geographical proximity and demographic realities, or remain independent. Kashmir was a fit case for accession to Pakistan due to geographical proximity, a majority-Muslim population and cultural, religious and trade links with the areas that formed parts of the latter.
But the ruler of the state, Maharaja Hari Singh, announced the accession of the state to India. His action could be better understood in the backdrop of the Dogra rule in Kashmir before Partition rather than the ground realities. The people of Kashmir revolted against this decision. Lord Mountbatten, while accepting the accession temporarily, unequivocally said that the issue would be decided through a reference to the people. The situation however became very precarious, leading to the first war between Pakistan and India which took the matter to the United Nations. After thorough deliberations on the issue, the UN Security Council passed a number of resolutions calling for holding the plebiscite under the auspices of the UN to settle the question of accession of the state.
That unfortunately remains an elusive dream so far due to Indian intransigence over granting the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir. The Partition of the Subcontinent pushed the people of Kashmir into an unending ordeal. They were forced to pick up arms in 1989 to win their freedom. India on its part has used ruthless military might to quell the uprising. Its security forces have since then killed more than 100,000 Kashmiris besides raping thousands of women. Kashmir remains a venue of oppression and persecution.
The Modi government has further aggravated the situation by ending the special status of Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, its annexation to the Indian Union in sheer violation of the UNSC resolutions and international law. Kashmir is under continuous lockdown since 5 August 2019 and the killing spree continues unabated. India has also adopted a belligerent posture towards Pakistan and the latter rightly feels that Indian disposition towards her
What it has has done in Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, inebriated by the RSS philosophy of Hindutva, constitutes a grave threat to the security of the region.
Regrettably the world and the UN remain oblivious to the sufferings of the people of Kashmir. One really wonders for how long the people of Kashmir will have to suffer and endure the ongoing ordeal? Indian oppression in Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and its defiance of the UNSC resolutions on the subject is indeed an affront to the conscience of the global community. How long it can afford to be indifferent remains to be seen. However it is clear that the people of Kashmir are determined to win their right to self-determination, no matter how many more sacrifices they might have to render.