For the second year in a row, Jammu and Kashmir had no official commemoration of Martyrs’ Day on July 13, a decade-old tradition that was called off in August 2019 after the erstwhile state’s special status was revoked. July 13 was removed from the list of official holidays of the government from 2020.
July 13 was officially celebrated from 1947 to 2019 to remember the 22 Kashmiris killed by the forces of the autocratic Dogra ruler after the people rose up against the Maharaja’s rule for their rights on July 13, 1931.
Mainstream political parties expressed their disapproval of what the J&K administration described as attempts to erase history and a collective memory of the atrocities of the people in Kashmir.
The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference President and Member of Parliament from Srinagar Dr. Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday led the party functionaries in offering Fateh to the Martyrs of 1931 here at party headquarters Nawa-e-Subha, Srinagar.
In his address, Dr. Farooq recalled the supreme sacrifice of the martyrs of 13 July 1931 and paid homage to each of them and many such unsung heroes who laid their lives for dignity and political rights of people of J&K. “13th July is a turning point in the history of Jammu & Kashmir. On the eventful day, the people of Kashmir unlocked themselves from the years of coyness that had snared them. The intrepid and dauntless heroism shown by our unarmed martyrs will continue to inspire forthcoming generations to eternity; no matter how many years pass the pain that was inflicted on the hearts of Kashmiri on that day will always remain the same. We will never fail to remember their supreme sacrifice for liberating the future generations from the years of bondage and despotic rule,” he said.
He said that it was Sher-e-Kashmir, who took it upon himself to carry forward the legacy of our fallen heroes. This distinctive feature of our community character, he held, was fashioned by many sacrifices and manifested in the ideology of the National Conference in the shape of appropriation of J&K’s aspirations for an environment that guarantees a suitable accommodation of our indigenous socio-political complexes within the Union of India.
“Our best tribute to our heroes will be to continue with our peaceful, democratic and constitutional struggle in getting our historical individuality back. With 13th July martyrs as our guiding stars, I’m sure we will steer Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh to safer shores,” he said.
The Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) on Tuesday paid glowing tributes to 1931 Martyr’s, hailing their vision and bravery.
The Party also said Martyr’s laid down their lives for justice equality and against barbarism, their sacrifices shall always be remembered.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday paid glowing tributes to the July 13 martyrs, stating that their role in Jammu and Kashmir’s freedom struggle can neither be undone nor can be forgotten.
Party Chief and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti while paying tributes said that on Martyrs day gates leading to their graveyards have been locked up. Attempts to distort and rewrite Kashmir`s history is being done to create a sense of defeat and helplessness amongst Kashmiris.
“Nevertheless as we pay homage to the heroes of 13th July 1931 our resolve to strive for restoration of J&K’s dignity remains firm”, she said.
Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader , said that Naya Kashmir, drafted the with the blood of July 13 martyrs, was dismantled on August 5, 2019.
In a statement issued to the press, he said: “The new narrative of the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] government is to make a ‘Naya Kashmir’ where you are not even allowed to mourn and visit the graves of the July 13 martyrs to pay homage to them. In the last two years, the silence of people, achieved by force, is being projected as acceptance of the BJP government’s unconstitutional and arbitrary decisions. But, in reality, treating silence by force as acceptance is a big mistake.
Tarigami also voiced the people’s apprehensions about the ongoing delimitation exercise. “Perception about Delimitation Commission among people is that it has been constituted to further disempower them politically. Despite repeated assurances by the government, full-fledged statehood is not being restored to Jammu and Kashmir. The Supreme Court verdict is yet awaited on pleas challenging unconstitutional scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370. The present government is relentlessly pursuing a policy to demolish the political significance of July 13 further.” The constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir was also the outcome of the ‘Naya Kashmir’ and J&K’s special status under Article 370 was the outcome of the struggle of the 1931 martyrs.
However, unfortunately on August 5, 2019, BJP government unilaterally dismantled whatever little was left. With a stroke of pen, J&K’s special status under Article 370 was abrogated and erstwhile state was downgraded and bifurcated into two union territories.
New narrative of BJP government is to make a ‘Naya Kashmir’ where even you are not allowed to mourn and visit the graves of the July 13 martyrs to pay homage to them. In the last two years silence of people, achieved by force, is being projected as acceptance of BJP government’s unconstitutional and arbitrary decisions. But in reality treating silence by force as acceptance is a biggest mistake.
On ground developmental activities have been halted in J&K and government employees are being terminated without being given a chance to defend themselves which is their constitutional and legal right. It is quite arbitrary. Similarly, people are not even allowed to protest over livelihood issues and issues pertaining to day-to-day life. On ground there is fear.
Perception about Delimitation Commission among people is that it has been constituted to further dis-empower them politically. Despite repeated assurances by the government, full-fledged statehood is not being restored to Jammu and Kashmir. The Supreme Court verdict is yet awaited on pleas challenging unconstitutional scrapping of J&K’s special status under Article 370.
The present government is relentlessly pursuing a policy to demolish the political significance of July 13 further. J&K administration’s decision that there will be no holiday on Martyrs’ Day on July 13 is an attempt to distort history. The movement of July 13 martyrs was peoples movement which reflected the aspirations of the entire population of J&K as the tyrannical regime was equally repressive for people of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. It was not the struggle of one community or one region.