Background

svg%3EKashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control and across the world observe 13th July as Kashmir Martyrs’ Day, every year. The day is commemorated to pay rich tributes to the 22 Kashmiris who were shot dead, one after the other, outside the Srinagar Central Jail by the troops of Dogra Maharaja. The victims had gathered in the jail premises to attend the court proceedings against one, Abdul Qadeer, who had asked the Kashmiri people to defy Dogra rule.

The tension was brewing in the territory since 19th April 1931 when Imam Munshi Muhammad Ishaq was stopped by Dogra police chief, Chowdry Ram Chand, from delivering Eid Khutba (sermon) in the Municipal Park of Jammu. The incident triggered massive demonstrations in Jammu city that continued for many days. Ban on Eid Khutba was followed by the desecration of the Holy Quran at the hands of Dogra troops in Jammu. This outrageous act led to widespread resentment throughout the State.

In Srinagar, people held massive gatherings at historic Jamia Masjid and other mosques, shrines and Imamabargahs to denounce this blasphemy and demanded punishment to the culprits. A youth, Abdul Qadeer, was also part of a crowd, which was listening to the speeches delivered by prominent Kashmiri leaders at one such gathering held in Khanqah-e-Mualla. When the meeting concluded, Abdul Qadeer pointing his finger to the Maharaja’s palace raised full-throated slogans “destroy its every brick”. He was accused of sedition and arrested instantly. Abdul Qadeer was to be tried in the court but due to a large public resentment the court was shifted to the Srinagar Central Jail.

On 12th July, intense public demonstrations were held throughout the city against the shifting of the court to the Central Jail. On 13th July, thousands of people thronged the Central Jail to witness the trial of Abdul Qadeer. As the time for obligatory Zuhar prayers approached, one of the youth stood up and started reciting “Azan”. He was shot dead by the Dogra soldiers and next youth started the ‘Azan’ where it was left by the martyred youth. He was also killed and in the process of completing the ‘Azan’ a total of 22 Kashmiris were martyred, one after the other. This massacre is the blackest chapter in the history of Dogra regime.

Before this wholesale slaughter, the Kashmiris had been facing the worst brutalities of their rulers since the selling of Jammu and Kashmir – with predominantly Muslim population – by the Britain to Dogra dynasty for Rs 75 lac under the Treaty of Amritsar in 1846. The Dogra period is considered to be the worst phase of the Kashmir history on account of cruelties meted out to the Muslims.

13th July 1931 is a significant day due to the fact that it was the first occasion when the Kashmiris rose en masse against the oppression of the Dogra Maharaja.

Indian occupation

The new saga of Kashmiris’ sufferings started after the announcement of the understanding behind the Partition Plan of the Indian subcontinent by the British Government in 1947. Under the Plan, the British India Colony was to be divided into two sovereign states – Pakistan and India. The understanding behind the Partition Plan had given the right to the then Princely States to accede to either of the two countries on the basis of their geography and demography. The Kashmiris had a great feeling to join Pakistan due to their strong geographical, religious and cultural bonds with the country. However, their dream of becoming part of Pakistan was shattered by the landing of Indian Army in Srinagar on October 27, 1947 in total disregard to the Partition Plan that sowed the seeds of the Kashmir dispute. This shows that Kashmir is the unfinished part of the partition of South Asian subcontinent.

The Indian invasion faced stiff resistance from the people of Jammu and Kashmir. They launched a freedom struggle and succeeded in liberating a large part of the State, which is now known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The resilience and determination of the Kashmiris pushed India on the verge of defeat, forcing it to approach the UN Security Council on January 01, 1948 and seeking its help to settle the issue. The UNSC through its several successive resolutions called for settlement of the Kashmir dispute through holding of a free and impartial plebiscite to be conducted by the UN. It is a historical fact that India itself had taken Kashmir to the UN accepting it as a disputed territory and promising before the world community to give the Kashmiris their right to self-determination, but these commitments are yet to be honoured.

Mass uprisings

The continued denial of their rights by India compelled the people of the occupied territory to start a massive uprising in 1989. It picked up pace with the passage of time and gave sleepless nights to the Indian rulers. The people rose against the illegal occupation and vowed to continue their struggle till Kashmir’s liberation from Indian bondage.

The Kashmiris’ liberation movement took a new turn in 2008. For the next three consecutive years, thousands of people hit the streets of Srinagar and other major towns on a daily basis. At times, one million protesters were seen on the streets of Srinagar demanding their right to self-determination. The extrajudicial killing of a popular youth leader, Burhan Wani, on July 08, 2016, triggered another mass uprising in the territory. Unfortunately, instead of taking these mammoth anti-India demonstrations in all these years as Kashmiris’ referendum against its illegal occupation of their soil, India responded with brute force, resulting in the killing of hundreds of protesters and injuring of thousands. Since the killing of Burhan Wani, 1,231 Kashmiris had been martyred and 28,066 injured by Indian forces’ personnel till June 30, 2020. As many as 11,050 persons had received pellet injuries and 385 of them had lost their eyesight in one or both eyes.

Modi regime’s assaults

On 5th August 2019, the Narendra Modi-led fascist government repealed the special status of occupied Kashmir and placed the territory under military siege and communications lockdown. After this illegal move, Indian troops have stepped up the killing spree across occupied Kashmir to suppress the uprising and intimidate the Kashmiris into submission. The killing of a 65-year-old civilian, Bashir Ahmed Khan, by Indian troops in front of his 3-year-old grandson in Sopore town in early July 2020 is the glaring example of Indian state terrorism in the occupied territory. Since 5th August, last year, Indian troops had martyred 192 Kashmiris and injured at least 1,326 others by using brute force on peaceful demonstrators till July 05, 2020. The troops had damaged over 935 houses and structures and molested 77 women. Thousands of Hurriyat leaders, political and human rights activists, religious heads, journalists, businessmen, lawyers and civil society members, who were arrested after or before the 5th August 2019, continue to remain in different jails of India and occupied Kashmir.

The Modi regime has also introduced new domicile rules in occupied Kashmir, paving way for the Indian Hindus to get permanently settled in the territory. The basic aim of the move is to convert the Muslim majority into a minority. It has so far issued domicile certificates to over 300,000 Indian Hindus including an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, Navin Kumar Choudhary.

However, the fact remains that the worst kind of Indian brutalities have failed to force the Kashmiris to surrender their just cause and they are determined to carrying forward their freedom movement.

Conclusion

The unparalleled sacrifices rendered by the people of occupied Kashmir in their just struggle during the past several decades have shaken the conscience of the world community, which has started to raise its voice in favour of their rights. The holding of discussion in the UN Security Council on the situation in occupied Kashmir twice within few months in the last over 50 years, the debates in the UK Parliament, the issuance of documents on Kashmir by the European Parliament and two reports by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighting the grave human rights abuses by Indian troops in Kashmir are some glaring examples of this fact. These developments show that the day is not far when India will have no option but to respect the Kashmiris’ aspirations and give them their right to self-determination it had promised several decades ago.
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Compiled by: Muhammad Raza Malik,Senior Editor, Kashmir Media Service


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