Amid clampdown in Srinagar’s old city that abodes bodies of July 13, 1931 Martyrs, state chief minister along with other mainstream leaders arrived on the Mazar-i-Shuhdah (Martyrs’ Graveyard) in wee hours of Saturday morning to pay homage to those who fell to the bullets of Dogra Army 82 years ago. Kashmir Life’s PhotoJournalist, Bilal Bahadur captured scenes through his lens.
Trumpeting Homage: The heavy security apparatus in place had already ensured lull over the area. The silence was though broken when musical homages began.
Grounded Arsenals: As trumpets were blowing in honour of those whose mission moderates believe is yet to accomplish, all heads bowed in respect.
Bowing Head: It wasn’t first time, when the 11th and youngest chief minister of J&K, was paying homage to martyrs. But lately, he saying, ‘The best way to pay homage to the martyrs is to help create equitable and palatable environment for everyone to grow and nurture in a democratic atmosphere.’ But siege around the area where he was paying homage only sneers his claim.
Window Watches: When all heads were lined up in homage, some curious kids appeared on window to have a glimpse of state honour. For the day, restrictions over area meant ‘caging’ in homes.
Pumped Personnel: Meanwhile, boisterous and vociferous commands were shot, which in a jiffy set adrenalin rush in armed guards.
Saluting Scion: He was feeling it too. Pitched commands made him lift his head instantly and for the moment, state executive head was saluting in honour of 21 souls who started struggle in state to fight against Dogra oppression.
Feminine Force: Cutting across gender lines, the anniversary ensured space for women in uniform too, who were standing tall rubbing shoulders with women in civvies.
Soulless Streets: While state honour was on inside the vicinity of Naqeshband Sahib Shrine, the streets at the same time wore desolated facade. Siege over area compelled people to stay indoors as long as homage was in vogue.
Garlanding Graves: The other day people heard him saying: ‘Martyrs of July 13 laid their lives to uphold this principle of natural justice and democracy.’ Will Omar Abdullah’s floral tribute invoke the spirit of his words in strife-stifle place? Many have crossed their fingers, your Highness!
Omar’s Opponent: He spoke too previous day: ‘The best tribute to these martyrs would be to create circumstances for resolution of Kashmir.’ Those who read between the lines question PDP patron’s assertion lately. “Sir,” they say, “please uphold the same spirit in case you sweep the polls in 2014 elections.”
Locked Looks: It wasn’t one of those stringent manning on streets, when frequent reprimand from cops would send people packed in their homes. Restriction worn-out souls did come on thresholds of their homes only to watch occupied streets.
Inked Immortal: 82 years have passed since Martyrs of Kashmir laid their lives. It was the desecration of Quran in Jammu that had triggered widespread protests across Kashmir. People assembled at Khankah-e-Moula where Abdul Qadeer Khan made a fierce speech against Dogra rule. He was arrested by the Dogra forces on the charges of sedition and lodged in Central Jail for trial. Then on July 13, 1931, people assembled at the Central Jail to witness Qadeer’s trial. In the afternoon of that fateful day, one of the protesting Kashmiris stood up to give a prayer call (Azaan). But Dogra forces opened indiscriminate fire on them killing 21 people.
Hushed Hub: Restrictions were not placed in Srinagar’s business hub Lal Chowk. But still, collective tribute was on display.
Reckoned Resistance: The day witnessed some resistance too. In an empty roads leading to Srinagar’s Press Enclave, JKLF leader Javeed Mir walked with handful of supporters protesting against curbs on separatist movement to Martyrs’ graveyard in old city. But the protesting lot were soon bundled into police vehicle and detained in nearby police station
Subjecting Surveillance: Keeping vigil on desolated streets in Srinagar’s old city, huge contingents of government forces were called to thwart any untoward incident on the day when ‘first among the equals’, were on prowl.
Witnessing Wreath: Apparently cut from crowd, this kid is curiously witnessing Who’s is Who in state of affairs of J&K. He made many unsuccessful attempts to cross that other side of divide, but barrier proved too robust for frail child.
Captioned by: Bilal Handoo