Every year, Kashmir Martyrs’ Day (Youme Shudaha-e-Kashmir) is commemorated on July 13 in the memory of 21 Kashmiris who were martyred outside Srinagar Central Jail by the troops of Dogra Maharaja on 13 July 1931. This very day is observed on both sides of the Line of Control and all over the world by the Kashmiris, including their Pakistani brethren to pay homage to these Kashmiris.
In fact, the history of Dogra rule (1846-1947) in Kashmir is replete with tyrannous treatment, meted out to the Kashmiri Muslims by Dogra forces. Under the Dogra rule, they were leading such miserable lives that it was difficult to differentiate them from beasts. Slave labour, heavy taxes, capital punishment for cow slaughter, and living under constant terror was the order of the day.
On 19 April 1931, the ban of Eid Khutba ignited widespread demonstrations in Jammu city for a number of days. It was followed by desecration of the Holy Quran at the hands of Dogra forces, which resulted in outrage among the Muslims throughout the state.
In Srinagar, people gathered in the Jamia Masjid to denounce this blasphemy. One such get-together was held in Khanqah-e-Molla Srinagar, which was addressed by prominent Kashmiris. When the meeting was concluded, a youth, Abdul Qadeer, pointing his finger to the Maharaja’s palace, raised the slogan “destroy its every brick.” On the accusation of sedition, he was arrested forthwith. Abdul Qadir was to be tried in the court, but due to large public resentment, the court was shifted to Central Jail Srinagar.
On July 12, in response to the shifting of court, intense public protests were held throughout the city. The next day, on July 13, thousands of people thronged the Central Jail Srinagar to witness the in-camera trial of Abdul Qadeer. As the time for obligatory prayer approached, a young Kashmiri stood for Azan.
The Dogra Governor, Ray Zada Tartilok Chand ordered soldiers to open fire at him. When he got martyred, another young man took his place and started Azan. He was also shot dead. In this way, 21 Kashmiris embraced martyrdom in their efforts to complete the Azan.
The people carried the dead and paraded through the streets of Srinagar, chanting slogans against Dogra brutalities. Complete strike was observed in the city, which was followed by weeklong mourning. This incident shook the whole state and the traffic from Srinagar to Rawalpindi and Srinagar to Jammu came to a halt from July 13 to 26. The 21 martyrs are buried in Martyrs’ Graveyard at Khawaja Bazar, Srinagar.
Consequent upon these brutal killings, the Kashmiri leadership realized the need to form a political party, the Muslim Conference (MC) with a view to waging struggle for their freedom. Afterwards, on 19 July 1947, MC passed a resolution to merge Kashmir with Pakistan, considering the geographical proximity, majority Muslim population (77 percent), language and cultural relations of Jammu and Kashmir.
During the partition of the Subcontinent, the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir which comprised Muslim majority decided to join Pakistan. But, the Dogra Mararaja, Sir Hari Singh, a Hindu who was ruling over the J&K in collusion with the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Governor General Lord Mountbatten, joined India.
The Radcliffe Boundary Award gave the Gurdaspur District, a majority Muslim area, to India to provide a land route to the Indian forces to move into the J&K.
Indian forces invaded Srinagar on 27 October, 1947 and forcibly occupied the J&K in utter violation of the partition plan.
When Pakistan responded militarily, on December 31, India made an appeal to the UN Security Council to intervene and a ceasefire ultimately came into effect on 01 January 1949, following UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Kashmir.
On 5 February 1964, India backed out of its commitment of holding a plebiscite. Instead, the Indian Parliament declared Kashmir an integral part of the Indian Union.
Since 1989, various forms of state terrorism have been part of a deliberate campaign by the Indian army and paramilitary forces against Muslim Kashmiris. It has been manifested in brutal tactics like crackdowns, curfews, illegal detentions, massacre, targeted killings, sieges, burning the houses, torture, disappearances, rape, breaking the legs, molestation of Muslim women and killing of persons through fake encounters.
Now, at the global level there is growing noticeable awareness regarding India’s brutal acts and atrocities in Indian-Occupied Kashmir. Nevertheless, the Kashmir Martyrs’ Day gives a greater impetus to the Kashmiris’ freedom fighters who continue their combat, demanding their legitimate right of self-determination, as recognized by the UN resolutions.
On 5 August 2019, the Indian Prime Minister and leader of the BJP-led extremist government revoked Articles 35A and 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gave a special status to the disputed territory of Indian-Occupied Kashmir. The Indian government bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, to be ruled by the federal government. On the same day, strict military lockdown was imposed in Indian-Occupied Kashmir which continues unabated.
The deployment of more than 900,000 military troops in Indian-Occupied Kashmir, who have martyred tens of thousands of the Kashmiris, including women and children through brutal tactics including fake encounters, while closure of mosques, shortage of foods, medicines for the patients have further increased the plight of the Kashmiris.
In order to hide human rights violations, communication services have been cut off from the world and foreign journalists are not allowed to enter the Kashmir region.
While, under a well-planned hidden agenda, the Modi-led regime has intensified bringing ethno- demographic changes in Indian-Occupied Kashmir. In this context, various Indian moves such as introduction of new laws, amendment of the laws to facilitate non-Kashmiris and outsiders in order to usurp the rights of the Muslim Kashmiris; issuance of domicile certificates to more than 80,0000 non-Kashmiris, registration of almost 2.5 million new non-local voters in Indian-Occupied Kashmir, failure of fake drama to host G-20 summit on May 22 to May 24 in Indian-Occupied Kashmir might be cited as instances.
The Modi regime has also sent gangs of RSS-BJP volunteers to be permanently stationed in occupied Kashmir.
Despite the use of chemical weapons, pellet guns and phosphorus bombs, Kashmiris have accelerated the combat for liberation.
Notably, Indian forces have been also availing various draconian laws, such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the Public Safety Act (PSA),. in martyring the Kashmiri people, and for arbitrary arrest of any individual for an indefinite period.
It is mentionable that Western media, human rights groups and leaders of various countries and UNO have repeatedly condemned Indian illegal measures and human rights abuses which keep on going in Indian-Occupied Kashmir.
In this regard, a year after India abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, UN human rights experts on 4 August 2020 called on India and the international community to take urgent action to address the “alarming” human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir— “to investigate all cases of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and arbitrary detentions.”
Amnesty International also said on 29 September 2020 that it is “stopping its work in India because the government has frozen its bank accounts” on September 10 for highlighting rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir” and “the government had sought to punish it for that”.
In the recent past, the UN Security Council in its meetings has thrice reiterated that the Kashmir issue requires to be settled in accordance with the principles of the UN charter and the related Security Council resolutions, as the world has refused to believe in the Indian story that its actions regarding Indian-Occupied Kashmir are its internal matter.
However, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has become the world’s largest prison, and the most militarized zone on earth. In this respect, Pakistanis and Kashmiris living abroad also raised Indian atrocities and continued struggle for the Kashmiris’ legitimate right of self-determination on various international forums, emphasizing that the Kashmir issue should be resolved in accordance with the related resolutions of the UNO.
In this context, US House of Representatives Terry Meza participated in a recent event organized by the Kashmir Global Council (KGC) and South Asia Democracy Watch in Frisco, Texas. Ms Terry Meza was the chief guest and the symposium was attended by well-known social activist Ms Beverly Hill, and various political leaders, academics, US media, including young students.
Endorsing her voices for freedom of Kashmir, Terry Meza said that she is against any form of oppression and stressed the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute in keeping with the legitimate aspirations of the people of Kashmir.
After a full day of discussion, discourse and deliberation during the symposium, a resolution was passed which stressed the upholding the human rights of Kashmiri people and appealed to allow the UN Human Rights Commission to verify the report compiled by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in 2018-19.
Now, at the global level there is growing noticeable awareness regarding India’s brutal acts and atrocities in Indian-Occupied Kashmir.
Nevertheless, the Kashmir Martyrs’ Day gives a greater impetus to the Kashmiris’ freedom fighters who continue their combat, demanding their legitimate right of self-determination, as recognized by the UN resolutions.