Govt Prevented July 13 Memorial Functions In Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Authorities blocked all roads leading the Martyrs Graveyard in the Old Srinagar City and prevented people from offering ceremonial prayers. Politicians alleged that they were denied permission to visit the historic spot for homage leading them have in-house memorial functions on the landmark day of Kashmir history.

All roads leading to the martyrs’ graveyard at Khawaja Naqashband Sahib shrine in downtown Srinagar were closed with barbed wire to prevent assemble of people on Martyrs’ Day on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

“The main gate is locked,” one resident said. “While a drop gate has emerged on the main road overnight, all the lanes around the locality have a massive deployment of the police and the CRPF.” The resident, who wished to stay anonymous, said the street is no-go zone.

July 13 is being observed as a landmark day in Kashmir history in memory of 22 civilians who were mowed down by Maharaja’s troops in 1931 as a huge crowd had assembled to witness the trial of Abdul Qadeer. A butler from Indian plains, Qadeer had delivered a fierce anti-Maharaja speech that led to his arrest and made him instantly famous. The killings triggered a chain of massacres across Kashmir involving troops and eventually forced the despot to make corrections in governance and peoples’ participation in decision-making.

In 2020, a year after the reading down of Article 370 and Article 35A, the Martyrs Day was dropped as a public holiday for the first time after 1947. Politicians see it an attempt to rewrite Kashmir history.  Kashmir rulers had stopped official ceremonial functions within and outside the cemetery since 2018.

“Today on the occasion of Martyr’s day, gates leading to their graveyards have been locked up. Attempts to distort & rewrite Kashmir’s history is being done only to create a sense of defeat & helplessness amongst Kashmiris,” Mehbooba Mufti, tweeted. “Nevertheless as we pay homage to the heroes of 13th July 1931 our resolve to strive for the restoration of J&Ks dignity remains firm.”

Omar Abdullah tweeted: “July 13, 1931, marks the assertion of JK’s IDENTITY and RIGHTS of it’s people. The Martyrs of July 13 will continue to be a beacon of LIGHT for us and for the coming generations. Heroes forever!”

NC spokesman Imran Nabi Dar said the party arranged a function at the party headquarters. “In view of the government-imposed restrictions, NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah led party functionaries in paying glowing tributes and offering fateh (prayers) to the July 13 martyrs at the party office,” Dar was quoted saying.

Most of the business establishments in Srinagar remained closed though a skeletal public transport service operated.

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