Every year “Kashmir Martyrs’ Day” is commemorated on July 13, in the memory of 21 Kashmiris, who were killed outside Srinagar Central Jail by the troops of Dogra Maharaja. This heinous incident took place on that fateful day when people had gathered to witness the court proceedings against, Abdul Qadeer, who was charged for instigating Kashmiris to defy Dogra rule.

On 19th April 1931, Dogra DIG Chowdry Ram Chand barred the main Munshi, Muhammad Ishaq, from delivering Eid Khutba (Sermon) in the Municipal Park of Jammu. It sparked off widespread protest demonstrations in Jammu city. Ban on Eid Sermon in Jammu was followed by desecration of the Holy Quran by Dogra troops, which further enraged the populace throughout the state. In Srinagar, people gathered in Jamia Masjid and demanded severe punishment to the culprits. While listening to speeches of Kashmiri leaders, a young man Abdul Qadeer pointed his finger to Maharaja’s palace and raised full-throated slogans “destroy its every brick”. He was immediately arrested on the charges of sedition. Later, his trial was shifted to Central Jail Srinagar due to possible public reaction. On 12th July, violent public demonstrations were held throughout the city against shifting of the court.

On 13th July 1931, thousands of people gathered outside Central Jail to witness the trial. At noon, a young man rose for Azan (call of prayer) but was shot and killed by Dogra soldiers. Hence, another person rose to continue the call but was also killed. The mayhem continued and 21 persons were killed in their attempt to complete the call for prayer. Protesters carried the dead and the injured with them, in a procession and paraded the roads and streets of Srinagar, chanting slogans against Dogra’s rule. Complete strike was observed in the city, which was followed by weeklong mourning.

The incident shook the whole state and the traffic from Srinagar to Rawalpindi and to Jammu was halted from 13th to 26th July. Since then, the day is observed as “Kashmir Martyr’s Day”.

Consequent upon these brutal killings, the Kashmiri leadership realised the need to form a political party, i.e., Muslim Conference (MC) with a view to wage struggle for their freedom. Later in 1934, state’s first elections were held and the Muslim Conference won 16 out of 21 seats and after two years in 1936, it succeeded in getting 19 out of 21 seats. The Indian Congress was upset with this situation and tried to create division in the ranks of Kashmiri leadership. Later on 19 July 1947, the MC passed a resolution to merge Kashmir with Pakistan considering the geographical proximity, majority of Muslim population (77 per cent), language and cultural relations of Jammu and Kashmir.

Ironically, despite a lapse of 66 years, Kashmiris are still struggling and sacrificing to achieve their alienable right under UN resolutions for the plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmir Valley is one of the most heavily militarised regions in the world with 0.7 million armed security forces, who indulge in indiscriminate killings, forced disappearances, rapes and maiming innocent youth and women.–The writer can be reached at trust@helplinetrust.org.pk

The data held on atrocities by Indian security forces from

January 1989 to 2013 and for the current year is as under:

a.    From January 1989 to December 2013

(1)    Total killings            93,984

(2)    Custodial killings            7,014

(3)    Arrests                1,22,771

(4)    Structures destroyed/damaged    1,05,996

(5)    Women widowed            22,776

(6)    Children orphaned            1,07,466

(7)    Women gang-raped/molested    10,086

b.    From January 1 to June 15, 2014

(1)    Total killings            54

(2)    Custodial killings            09

(3)    Arrests                3,438

(4)    Structures destroyed/damaged    08

(5)    Women widowed            02

(6)    Children orphaned            03

(7)    Women gang-raped/molested    34